Nier creator Yoko Taro lost his freaky mask and replaced it with something even worse

Yoko Taro in a scary leprechaun mask.
(Image credit: Yoko Taro)

Nier creator and famously quirky game developer Yoko Taro has, as part of his personal brand, a giant grinning skeletal headpiece which he wears during public appearances. Or he had such a headpiece. 

Taro is currently in Los Angeles attending the 2023 Anime Expo, and promoting his newest project Kamierabi. When it came time for his panel, he wasn't dressed as fans have come to expect. This came about, per Taro, thanks to a bunch of drinking sessions between him and other creatives, which resulted in a drunk television producer losing the Emil head—an oversized recreation of the perpetually grinning spherical skull of one of Nier's beloved characters—in a bar (thanks, GamesRadar+).

Despite the loss, Taro was not about to go on stage at Anime Expo and show his face. Appearing on a panel, Taro drew audience applause with his replacement disguise, which is kind of even more creepy than the Emil mask. It looks like a leprechaun, but one that's been on a two-year bender and just woken up to the worst hangover on the planet. Taro's appearance was accompanied by a slideshow of his adventures around LA

Hopefully this is not a long-term replacement. Emil was scary enough, but this is uglier than sin. And presumably this means there's someone prancing around LA with a giant moon head on.

Taro's other recent projects include the Nier: Automata anime, which released a few episodes before a delay blamed on covid. The remaining episodes are due in July. As for the Nier games, Square Enix announced this year that Automata had sold 7.5 million copies, pretty incredible for such an unusual game. Doesn't mean there's going to be a sequel anytime soon though.

If there ever is, hopefully the Square Enix marketing department just sort Taro out with a new head. After the panel at the Anime Expo, Taro himself ended by thanking people for coming, adding: "Please let me know if you find a mask." Please.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."