We've all delighted in his artistry. We've debated long and hard over the decisions that he made visually. But until you glanced at that photograph, did you even know what Takeshi Obata looked like?
It's perhaps the mark of a true artist that his life is judged by its creativity, rather than his biography.
Nevertheless, as soon as it occurred to me that I knew nothing about him, I had to go on a voyage of discovery. Coming with me?
Biography of Takeshi Obata - Mangaka of Death Note
Takeshi Obata was born on February 11th 1969, in the city of Niigata, on the eponymously named Niigata Perfecture, in Japan. (For those of you with as dodgy a grasp of geography as myself, that's a port on the north-west coast of Japan's largest island.)
In 1985, he entered his one shot 500 Kōnen no Shinwaa into a competition run by Weekly Shonen Jump. The Tezuka Award was established to discover and showcase new artists. Takeshi certainly fit the bill. He walked away with the top prize AND a job at the magazine.
By 1989, the executives at Shonen Jump felt that Takeshi's art had matured enough to give him his big break. That came with Takeshi Obata's debut series Cyborg Jii-chan G, which he both wrote and illustrated.
That was followed by Arabian Majin Boukentan Lamp (1991), Rikijin Densetsu (1993) and Ayatsuri Sakon (1995). Each of those had their own writer, Takeshi supplied only the artwork.
The coming of age tale earned Takeshi and Yumi a joint Shogakukan Manga Award in 1999 - one of the genre's most prestigious accolades.
Takeshi Obata's fame, whilst working Hikaru no Go, was such that he was one of the artists chosen to contribute to Adidas Manga Fever - an anthology of stories created to mark the FIFA World Cup 2002.
In addition Shueisha asked him to contribute the artwork for its manga Hajime.
In 2003, Obata and Hotta took home the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize's Creative Award for their manga series. It must have seemed that nothing in Takeshi Obata's career could ever top thatmoment.
And that was when he was approached to illustrate Death Note.
I think it's pretty safe to assume that this has been the highest point of an already soaring career to date. It assured world wide celebrity for the artist and, amongst other things, spawned this blog. It also saw Takeshi nominated for the 2008 Eisner Award for Best Artist (comic/manga industry's equivalent to the Oscars), but he unfortunately lost out to Chris Ware for Acme Novelty Library #18. (Who?)
In addition to the main manga serialization of Death Note, Takeshi Obata also provided the cover artwork for its spin-off novels: Another Note and L Save the World. But we won't hold that against him.
Since Death Note, he's never been out of work. There was
Blue Dragon: Ral Ω Grado (2006), Hello Baby (2007), Urooboe Uroboros! (2008), Otter No 11 (2010) and now All You Need Is Kill (2014).
In the middle of all that, he teamed up again with his Death Note co-creator Tsugumi Ohba to produced their how-to-be-a-manga-writer-and-artist guidebook disguised as a manga story - Bakuman. It debuted in 2008 and, though its never received anything like the attention of Death Note, it's been fairly well read.
And that's about it! It turns out that there wasn't much to learn behind the art after all, unless anyone else here has any facts or gossip that they want to share. In the meantime, here is Takeshi Obata doing what he does best.