Art books! Art books! Today’s feature, mostly of the “I did not play this but was enticed to buy it either through the cover or seeing it around” variety:
- Battle Heroine Drawing & Design Technique
- Art Book – Shoukoku no Altair
- The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince Official Art Book
- Yunohana SpRING! Official Art Book
- BOYS (BOYS 神技画集)
As per the title, it’s an art book that features varying illustrations of guys spanning 27 artists, though the illustrations inside very loosely follow the theme (basically “there’s a dude in it”). The book is more or less an anthology, featuring several illustrations per artist. There is also a feature with three artists (Ebimo, Kazari Tayu, Daken) in regards to their digital drawing process. 144 pages, glossy softcover.
If you dabble in joseimuke (female-targeted) media, some of the artists might be familiar to you. Quite a few featured did character designs for Touken Ranbu (such as Kinako and Kunimitsu, who are the main reasons I bought this). Some artists showcased character designs (third image above) rather than full illustrations.
I guess this book’s a decent overview of art and artists (the book even provides profiles and links to their social media along with what software they use), but it’s mostly a compilation of old illustrations the artists have posted before on their feeds or promotional art they did for work. They’re likely be new to you if they’re not an artist you’ve come across before, though! It’s okay in terms of illustrations and discovering new artists, but not something I’d recommend going out of your way to get.
As an addendum, one of the featured artists, Kazari Tayu (風李たゆ), has some infamy surrounding them in regards to being a tracer (all the way from 2013 that’s still being talked about in that these sites are literally on the first page when you look up Kazari Tayu on the Japanese side), so make of that what you will.
- Battle Heroine Drawing & Design Technique (香川 久×馬越嘉彦 バトルヒロイン作画＆デザインテクニック)
A book featuring works by Kagawa Hisashi and Umakoshi Yoshihiko, documenting their processes working on Pretty Cure and how to go about designing a battle heroine for an original series. 180 pages, matte softcover.
The book is divided into two parts. The first part has Kagawa and Umakoshi discuss design and animation aspects of Pretty Cure series they headed as animation directors (Fresh and Heartcatch respectively). There’s a two page interview with the both of them talking more about their work.
The second part has Kagawa and Umakoshi show their process of how they design characters and such when given a similar premise. It’s pretty neat seeing how they bring life to the concepts! This book isn’t so much of “how to draw”, but more of “watch and maybe learn along”. I personally really like seeing all the roughs and dynamic poses, so it’s good for me as an art book, not so much as a drawing guide. I think that it would be useful as a loose study.
- Art Book – Shoukoku no Altair (画集 将国のアルタイル)
Disclaimer: I have never read Shoukoku no Altair. However, I was struck with an overwhelming urge to get this art book upon seeing the cover and all its rich, glittering detail. A book of illustrations featuring Shoukoku no Altair (of course), by Katou Kotono. 120 pages, glossy hardcover.
According to the index, most of the featured art are volume covers (1 to 19) and colour illustrations featured in magazine serialisations from 2007 to 2017. There’s a few manga pages scattered about in monochrome. Some of them seem a little random to me, but they don’t take away from the book being a treat to look at. The colours are lovely. Exclusive illustrations that I’m presuming are store bonuses are shown as well, though not in very large sizes.
Some illustrations have a separate page where the clothing detail or an aspect of the art is enlarged. It’s really neat to see the patterns up close! I think that this is a nice book to get if the art style is up your alley. I feel like you could spend quite a while admiring each page with how intricate Katou Katono’s linework is.
Again, I am saying this as someone who has no prior contact with Shoukoku no Altair, so I’m not sure how someone who might own all the manga volumes or is more familiar with the art might feel about it. You do get to see everything at a nice, large resolution in one place and in (mostly) full colour, so that might be an added bonus even if you do own the manga volumes?
- The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince Official Art Book (嘘つき姫と盲目王子 公式アートブック)
Disclaimer: I have never played The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince. However, I was struck with the urge to buy this when I saw it in a bookstore and figured I might as well get it to admire the art if I’m dragging my feet in regards to getting the actual game. 179 pages, matte softcover.
The book has an art gallery that features the promotional art and art posted on other official channels. There is a section where each artist made comments in regards to their illustrations, Oda Sayaka (the lead artist for the game) being the main one. There’s a section for in game art assets, such as the character sprites and the backgrounds.
There’s quite a bunch of rough designs for the characters and the game’s settings! Illustrator and designer comments are scattered throughout talking about why they chose certain design elements. It’s pretty cool leafing through all the concept art and seeing how they evolved into the final designs.
I am saying this as someone who has never played the game, but I think this is a pretty good buy! I feel quite satisfied going through this book and there is a refreshing amount of rough sketches along with developer commentary that I think most art books tend to skimp out on. I really like the pencil feel of the art style.
…However, it seems that the price for a physical copy has jacked up way above what it was originally sold for. Fortunately, if you’re interested in getting this book, eBookJapan has you covered by offering a digital edition. As far as I know, they allow foreign credit cards, so that shouldn’t be an issue.
- Yunohana SpRING! Official Art Book (ゆのはなSpRING! 公式アートブック)
Disclaimer: I have never played Yunohana SpRING! However, I figured that I might as well get this if only to have some physical form of RiRi’s art because Binary Star will likely never get an art book. 159 pages, glossy softcover.
- An illustration gallery chronicling promotional art and art posted on official channels
- Game CGs
- Character profiles
- Rough designs
There’s also a small feature with the game’s backgrounds and the user interface. There’s quite a bit of commentary from RiRi in regards to the character design and the promotional art, which is nice. I probably won’t ever get the game, but I’m quite impressed at the range of clothing Yunoha seems to wear throughout it (going by the CGs).
Anyway, if you like the art, I guess this book is fine? It mostly features stuff you can already see in the game, but I’m pretty sure I would buy this book even if I had played the game just to have a physical version of the art. You get some insight from RiRi in regards to the art design, so that’s a bonus. (Also, I find RiRi’s art cute, but Yunoha looks really out of it in most of the CGs to me.)
One very important note: this book does not contain any CGs from the fandisc, as it was published in 2015 (the fandisc was released in 2016). However, it is the only art book Yunohana SpRING! has, so you’ll have to make do with it.
It was surreal pulling up the shopping pages for The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince art book and finding out that it’s now being sold at at least 4 times the price I bought it for. I’M GRIPPING MY FIST GOING THROUGH ALL THE OLD GOODS BECAUSE DAMN…I WANT THEM…WHY DIDN’T I KEEP AN EYE ON THE SERIES WHEN I VAGUELY KNEW IT EXISTED. At least I have the art book…looks to distance. This is how it is when I get an art book…I admire it, I put it in a shelf, I take it out again and fall down a hole looking up everything related to it.
Anyway, if you’re interested in getting any of the above books, I’ve linked to where you can buy them in the titles! You can also try CD Japan. The exception here is The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince, where unless you’re okay with paying 14,000 yen for a physical copy (or waiting for official channels to restock it), your best bet is to go digital with eBookJapan. It’s not the same as a physical art book, but on the upside, you get to view all the illustrations in their original resolution without a book gutter getting in your way!