He originally became noticed in 1985 when he took a prize in the Tezuka Award for his one shot 500 Kōnen no Kaiwa. Joining the Weekly Shonen Jump staff, he mentored under Makoto Niwano before starting his first major series, writing and drawing Cyborg Jii-chan G in 1989. Having difficulty for several years in finding a hit, Obata began collaborating with other writers on their stories. He finally began the series that established his name when he teamed with Yumi Hotta on Hikaru no Go starting in 1998.
He is most well known as the artist of Hikaru no Go, for which he received the Shogakukan Manga Award in 2000 and the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize in 2003, and Death Note. Obata is rare among shōnen artists not only for the detail of his drawings, but in his penchant for fashion; the characters he draws often wear stylish clothes and trendy items like the latest fashionable scarf, tie or handbag.
He has served as the artist of Blue Dragon Ral Grad, a manga adaptation of the fantasy video game, Blue Dragon from December 2006 to July 2007.
In the fall of 2007, he drew a short story, Hello Baby, with writer Masanori Morita, which appeared in Jump Square. This was followed by a one-shot manga with Nisio Isin. He is currently working on a new series with Tsugumi Ohba, Bakuman, which began in August, 2008.
In addition to his manga work, he has also done character design work for the video game Castlevania Judgment, as well as illustrating several light novels.
- Cyborg Jii-chan G (CYBORGじいちゃんG（サイボーグじいちゃんジー）?) (story & art)
- Arabian Majin Bokentan Lamp Lamp with Susumu Sendo (writer)
- Rikito Densetsu -Oni wo Tsugu Mono- with Masaru Miyazaki (writer)
- Karakurizoshi Ayatsuri Sakon with Sharaku Marou (writer)
- Hikaru no Go with Yumi Hotta (writer) - supervised by Yukari Yoshihara (5-dan)
- Death Note with Tsugumi Ohba (writer)
- Blue Dragon Ral Grad with Tsuneo Takano (writer)
- Hajime with Otsuichi (writer)
- Hello Baby with Masanori Morita (writer)
- Uro-oboe Ouroboros with Nisio Isin (writer)
- Castlevania Judgment (character design)
- Bakuman with Tsugumi Ohba (writer)
Awards and NominationsEdit
Nominated-Eisner Awards 2008 Best Artist for his work on Death Note and Hikaru no Go.