- SHOW BY ROCK!! OFFICIAL ART BOOK
- Anime “Kyousougiga” Visual Book
- Ken Sugimori Works
- Kamigami no Asobi Official Fan Book
- Cardcaptor Sakura 20th Anniversary Illustrations Collection
A collection of illustrations featuring the card art and game assets from the Show by Rock!! mobile game (along with some other promotional illustrations). 184 pages, glossy softcover.
This book was published in 2015, so the illustrations included in it are from before then. The bands featured are from Plasmagica to Shirorakurosuka?. There’s typically a brief introduction to each band accompanied by their myumon evolutions. Full illustrations usually take up a page by themselves, with some having fold-out posters (the third image above).
The book makes a really bizarre design choice by placing one of the fold-out posters (the image above) in the middle of a two page illustration. It’s not really that big of a deal, but considering that they could have put it in any page that wasn’t this, it baffles me.
Other than the inconsistent way the book displays the illustrations (the amount of page space allocated to each band’s cards varies), I think this is a decent coverage of the art in the SHOW BY ROCK mobile game. It’s somewhat all over the place, but I really liked going through this book! The game shut down last year (to make way for Fes A Live), so I guess this is pretty much the one place where you can still see art from it.
However, the book doesn’t include everything in the game – most of the band features have their myumon forms, their initial “human form” card (characters that didn’t have a gijinka before this book was out were skipped over), and a smattering of event illustrations (if they had any). It’s a bit of a shame that this seems to be the only art book released through official channels. Sanrio seems to have taken to releasing a bunch of smaller illustration books that you can only get through Comiket events…looks to distance.
- Anime “Kyousougiga” Visual Book (アニメ「京騒戯画」ビジュアルブック)
A book documenting visuals and such from the Kyousougiga series. 160 pages, matte softcover. Disclaimer: I am no authority on sakuga, so this is me just looking at it as I would with any art book.
First up, promotional illustrations for the anime along with cover art from the song albums and such. I am still in absolute love with the first image. The composition is very sexy. Thank you, Kyousougiga.
The book showcases drafts for the character designs. Please look at Koto’s expression in the second image. I love how expressive she is.
There’s also a feature on the backgrounds used in the anime, along with some key frames for certain scenes. One nice thing about the book is how with a lot of the sketches, they’ll give some insight about it rather than just showing it without any context. There are interviews with the production staff in regards to the series, as well.
…Kyousougiga has a much more complicated history than I know of besides the anime (web series and whatnot that I’ve yet to see), but anyway, I like this book a lot! Kyousougiga has a lot of lovely visuals and it’s a treat to be able to see some behind-the-scenes commentary in regards to how it was shaped up. If you like bright, colourful visuals and flowy animation, you should check out the Kyousougiga anime. Otherwise, there’s this book you can get, though it’s more heavy on the sketches side.
- Ken Sugimori Works (杉森建の仕事 『クインティ』から『ジェリーボーイ』『ポケットモンスター』 25年間の作品集 (一般書))
A book showcasing Sugimori Ken’s illustrations. 359 pages, glossy softcover.
I remember getting this because I wanted to see coverage of Sugimori Ken’s works on Pokemon, but the book is very sparse in that aspect. Honestly, I feel that I was misled into buying this because I was expecting more Pokemon coverage than this book gave, heh.
The main features of this book are Mendel Palace (known in Japan as Quinty) and Smart Ball (otherwise known as Jerry Boy). It’s mostly a compilation of the Mendel Palace and Smart Ball manga serialisations all the way from 1990, so there’s quite a bit of reproduced content if you keep up closely with Ken Sugimori’s work. There’s some brief coverage of games that Ken Sugimori worked on either as the director or character designer as well.
There are a couple of character drafts scattered around the book, along with some short interviews with Ken Sugimori. As for Pokemon, it’s a bunch of character designs that you’d probably have seen everywhere as promotional art. There is, at the very least, developer commentary (albeit short) on how some of the Pokemon designs were shaped up.
As for whether I’d recommend this…I remember that I was really dissatisfied with this book because it wasn’t what I was expecting in terms of Pokemon content with how boldly the obi stated the series. There’s roughly 16 pages in relation to Pokemon (out of 359 pages). I’ve mellowed out flipping through it now, though. It’s apparently been around 6 years since I bought this and I’m just “huh…Pokemon…that exists, huh”.
To sum it up: if you’re getting this for Pokemon (as I think most people would), don’t, but if you like Ken Sugimori’s art style and want to see his works beyond Pokemon, sure, why not. There’s a very nostalgic feel to it.
- Kamigami no Asobi Official Fan Book (神々の悪戯 オフィシャルファンブック)
A book of illustrations from Kamigami no Asobi, by Kazuki Yone. 128 pages, matte softcover. Disclaimer: I have never played Kamigami no Asobi, but I did watch the anime and read the manga (by Sumida Moto). I really like the manga for Sumida Moto’s art style.
As with most otome art books, this book features promotional illustrations and CGs from the game. Character profiles are included, along with some showcasing of sprite and expression variants. There’s a few rough drafts scattered about for the art and character design. There’s a two page interview each with the director (Konno Sayaka) and the illustrator (Kazuki Yone). A walkthrough guide is also included at the very end of the book.
This book contains a bulk of art you would already have seen if you played the game, but as with otome art books, I will buy it anyway to have a physical version of the art. I think it’s a good art book if you know what you’re expecting from it. It is pretty worthwhile for me since I’ve never played the game but I get to see all the art I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.
This book does not contain any art from the second game, INFINITE. However, it is the only art book Kamigami no Asobi has, so you’ll have to make do with it.
- Cardcaptor Sakura 20th Anniversary Illustrations Collection (カードキャプターさくら 連載開始20周年記念 イラスト集)
A book of Cardcaptor Sakura illustrations, by CLAMP. 136 pages, matte hardcover. The book comes with a plastic slipcover which includes a big poster showing the timeline of the series.
Disclaimer: I have not really engaged with Cardcaptor Sakura. I briefly read through the Mandarin volumes of the manga, but it’s basically a series where I’m aware of it and sort of know what’s happening but I don’t really care enough to want to dive deeper. (The only CLAMP work I have properly read is Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, but not to completion.) CLAMP’s art is nice to look at, though, so I went ahead with getting this.
The book dives straight into displaying illustrations of the series, be it from goods or volume covers spanning 1996 to 2016. Most illustrations get a full page feature, though there are a few that are displayed in smaller sizes. CLAMP provides short comments on each illustration at the end of the book, giving some insight as to why they drew them the way they did.
I personally love how much CLAMP incorporates ribbons into their illustrations. Very flowy. If you like CLAMP’s art, this is a decent book to get! I’m not sure how someone who is more familiar with Cardcaptor Sakura’s art would feel about this, but you get to look at all the pretty art in one place, so that’s good enough for me.
If you’re interested in getting any of the art books above, I’ve linked to where you can buy them in their titles. CD Japan is another alternative!