[Guest Post] Artbook Review: BRAVELY DEFAULT Design Works ~ The Art of Bravely 2010 – 2013

15 Mar

Hello everyone! This is Anne from Chic Pixel, and Lady Riven has graciously invited me to come share one of my recent pickups here on Plastic Pleasures. I don’t have nearly as many swoon-worthy doujinshi and artbooks as Plastic Pleasures’ lovely hostess, so that makes my recent acquisition of the BRAVELY DEFAULT Design Works THE ART OF BRAVELY 2010-2013 book all the more exciting!

The Art of Bravely Default

At a whopping 255 pages, this book is practically a phonebook of gorgeous illustrations, sketches, and other Bravely Default-related content. Part of me wishes it had a hard cover, but the soft cover does keep the weight down, making it more portable and, ultimately, less expensive to import.

Before I go inside the book, be warned that everything hereafter can and probably will contain spoilers. Enemies, environments, job costumes… if you want to discover all of that for yourself, please bookmark this article and come back after you’ve finished the game! I’ve tried to leave out stuff that goes into major spoiler territory, but what I consider no big deal may be something you’d prefer not to see, so don’t say I didn’t warn you! Also, it should probably go without saying since this is a massive book, I will not be sharing pictures of everything. Instead, I’ve decided to show of some of the previously unreleased and lesser-known illustrations in the book since you can see the official promo art anywhere!

The Art of Bravely Default

Rather than being dedicated to a specific game, the book features content from the whole Bravely Default series, including the browser game Praying Brage and the very thematically and visually similar Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light. Continue reading

Doujinshi News: Introducing Sekai Project

28 Feb

Sekai Project is run by a small team of dedicated fans whose goal is to bring independent Japanese publications to a wider audience. This includes doujinshi, visual novels, music and more. As someone who is passionate about all of the above, I find their project really exciting. Getting ahold of doujinshi items can be a real challenge. Many shops, such as Toranoana, do not cater to overseas customers, and have gone so far as to block well-known deputy services from ordering products from them on your behalf.


Sekai Project had a lot of success with their first Kickstarter, which aimed to localize doujinshi artist Lunatic Joker’s “Moe Headphones Design Guidebook 2013”. The book features information about many types of popular headphones, along with illustrations of anime girls wearing them to coincide with their descriptions. The Kickstarter bonuses included a range of shikishi (or “sketch boards”), postcards, digital downloads, an omake book and even a B1 sized tapestry that will feature a variation of one of the book’s illustrations (voted upon by backers!) Even if you missed out on the Kickstarter, you can still pre-order a copy of the book and the tapestry via their backerkit website. They’ve also raffled off some awesome goods like a pair of aëdle’s VK-1 Classic Edition headphones featured in “Moe Headphones”, and a copy of the Narcissu Visual Fanbook. If you want to find out when a new contest is starting up, make sure you follow Sekai Project on twitter, Facebook or G+!

Moe Headphones by Lunatic Joker

In addition to the Moe Headphones Kickstarter, Sekai Project has put 3 different visual novels up on Steam Greenlight. Despite some backlash from Western gamers (who’ve made no attempt to understand the appeal of visual novels), the Greenlight campaigns have been successful thus far. These games include WORLD END ECONOMiCA, Narcissu 1st & 2nd, and most recently, Koenchu! -The Tale of the Voice Actress-.


I had a talk with Raymond Qian of Sekai Project to find out a little bit more about what they’ve been working on and what we can look forward to from them in the future. Read on! Continue reading

Artbook Review: Nitro+ CHiRAL Official Works DRAMAtical Murder

9 Feb

DRAMAtical Murder (aka – DMMd or ドラマダ) is a gritty cyberpunk visual novel by Nitro+ CHiRAL, the BL division of Nitro+. Even before playing, I found myself intrigued by the artwork and story that I’d seen and read about. Nitro+ are masters of visual storytelling, and once I’d started playing, I wasn’t disappointed one bit.

“Nitro+  CHiRAL Official Works – DRAMAtical Murder” is an artbook that was originally released in a special set for Comic Market 82, and can’t be purchased from a normal book retailer like the visual fan book published by Cool-B. It took me awhile to track down a copy, but it was worth the hunt!


While not technically a doujinshi, it has traits of a doujinshi art book. It’s exclusively sold through Nitro+, and is fairly slim. It’s a shame that it’s difficult to get, because the content is outstanding.


For what it’s worth, I tend to shy away from buying visual fan books. They consist primarily of a game’s event CGs and character profiles. That’s not to say I wouldn’t buy DRAMAtical Murder’s VFB, but this book is generally more of what I’m looking for; text-free aside from captions, and strict focus on the art.


ほにゃらら (Honya Lala) drew all of the illustrations and event CGs for DRAMAtical Murder. Here’s some of her work for the official game package and a few different promotional images done for Comiket 80 and 81.


These detailed illustrations of four of the major characters were done for B’s-LOG, a popular Japanese magazine that focuses exclusively on Boy’s Love games. Continue reading

Artbook News: “Xenogears Perfect Works ~the Real thing~” to be re-released in March 2014

15 Jan

While I don’t ordinarily consider Plastic Pleasures a “news” blog, occasionally I get a little piece of info that is just too exciting to not spread all over the known internet. Bearing that in mind, when my twitter buddy Elliot Gay discovered that one of the greatest game artbooks of all time would be getting a re-print  this year, I nearly flipped my lid.

Xenogears - Perfect Works

It’s so rare I feel like I even have to handle this jpg with extreme care.

“Xenogears Perfect Works” by and large towers over the rest of my not-too-shabby collection of my most valued artbooks. It is not necessarily because this book is full of incredible art that it is so magnificent, but because it is basically the illustrated bible of my favorite video game of all time. It’s kind of like Hyrule Historia, except that it covers a single game rather than every game in an entire franchise. The attention to every single minute detail of this sometimes convoluted but always impressive JRPG story that resides in this book is a real wonder to behold for even the most hardcore Xenogears fanatic.

“But it’s all in Japanese!” you might say. I know, and I wish a company like UDON could localize this book more than anything, but the age of the game and the amount of non-existent scientific jargon it contains would likely make the localization of Perfect Works an enormous undertaking and a huge monetary risk. It’s not a total loss, however, because there’s a guy out there on the internet who woke up one day and said “Man, Xenogears Perfect Works is so awesome, I’m going to become fluent in Japanese just so I can read it and THEN I’m going to edit all 300+ pages of the book and release them for free.” His Flickr gallery of the entire book, in English, is right here. Up until this moment, I would not have linked you that and expected you to go buy the book itself, because it has been going for around $200 on eBay and through other secondhand means for years… but now that it’s getting a re-print, you’ll have no excuse not to pick one up!


Deus bless the man behind UltimateGraphics, who translated this entire book into English.

Ready to order a copy? Hop on over to the listing on Fukkan. If you’re outside of Japan, you’re going to need to use a deputy or proxy service to order this one, such as White Rabbit Express. The price is 5,250 yen — which is about 50 USD at the time of my writing.

UPDATE: You can now pre-order Perfect Works from Amazon JP, which eliminates the need for a proxy service!

If you’re like me and you can never get enough of Xenogears, here’s a few links to some great tributes that have cropped up within the past few years or so:

Project  NOAH – The talented Diego Cabrera’s stunning effort to re-create Xenogears in 3D. You’ve gotta see it to believe it.
Xenogears 15th Anniversary Anthology – A free, digitally released collection of artwork from people all over the world. Started by rin-uzuki on dA.
Chromatic Gate – Xenoseries Full Color illustration anthology – A doujinshi released for the 10th anniversary of Xenosaga. Links to my review on this blog.
MYTH the Xenogears Orchestral Album – A CD released in 2011 to celebrate the 13th anniversary of Xenogears.
Humans + Gears – An impressive fan-made OC Remix album for Xenogears. Free download.

Doujinshi Review: “16billions” by Happy Xpec Friends

29 Jun

“16 Billions” is a beautifully presented Fate/Zero fan book by a group of Chinese artists who go by “Happy Xpec Friends” or “HXF” for short.

16billions by Happy Xpec Friends

Cover Illustration by STARshadowmagician

16billions is printed in a B5-sized horizontal format and consists of 44  full color pages.

16billions by Happy Xpec Friends

Sewn Binding

Most interestingly, the booklet has a sewn binding rather than a stapled one. +10 for presentation! While I didn’t photograph it, the cover of the book also has flaps with shiny red metallic embossing. It’s kind of like an imitation dust jacket. The paper that the whole book is printed on is also quite thick!

16billions by Happy Xpec Friends

Illustration by STARshadowmagician

This is the full wrap-around illustration used on the cover, which I found on STARshadowmagician’s pixiv. (Original Post)

16billions by Happy Xpec Friends

Cover Art, up close!

The first piece of artwork in the book is the same art used on the cover itself. It spans two pages and shows all of the main characters. I think I prefer it with the red sky, don’t you?

16billions by Happy Xpec Friends

Red Saber by STARshadowmagician

Even though it is specifically listed as a Fate/Zero fanbook, there’s some cameos by the popular video game versions of Saber in it as well. Here’s a pretty sweet Red/Nero Saber from the PSP game Fate/Extra. I love the chibi Caster on the right!

Continue reading

Doujinshi Review: “Ruellia Tea Garden” by phanky berry beats

27 Jun

“Ruellia Tea Garden” is a B5-sized, 20 page full-color doujinshi by 斉藤アキ (Saitoh Aki) of the doujinshi circle “phanky berry beats“. A popular theme among Japanese artists is to create 擬人化 ( gijinka ) or anthropomorphized incarnations of popular objects, creatures or themes. Oftentimes, these anthropomorphizations are in the form of 萌え ( moe ) girls. This particular doujinshi does just that with tea, and presents each girl alongside facts about that particular type of tea.

Ruellia Tea Garden - Cover


I’m not certain which tea the cover girl represents, but I am going to go with Rose.

Ruellia Tea Garden - Menu

Le Menu

The index page is very appropriately labeled as the “menu.”

Ruellia Tea Garden - Darjeeling


The first tea presented is Darjeeling. In addition to the illustration of the tea personified, there are facts about the tea itself (such as color and flavor) followed by which months of the year the 1st, 2nd and Autumnal flushes of Darjeeling take place.

Continue reading

Merchandise Review: Ascii Media Works 20th Anniversary Dengeki Heroines Figure Collection

18 Apr

Exclusive to Dengekiya’s online shop, The Ascii Media Works 20th Anniversary Dengeki Heroines Figure Collection is a set of 20 miniature figurines, manufactured by Toy’s Works to celebrate 20 years of Ascii Media Works with 20 of anime’s most beloved heroines.

Promotional Image of all 20 Heroines

Promotional Image of all 20 Heroines!

The set’s contents are an impressive line-up of chibi beauties who have spawned massive fan followings  over the past two decades.  Holo, Osaka,  Hoi-Hoi, Taiga and Kirino were enough to convince me I just couldn’t  live without it!

Box in a box...

Box in a box…

The set arrived very well packaged… this was what was inside of the initial shipping box.

...in a box...

…in a box…

Inside of the heavy cardboard box was a thin white and red cardboard box.

...in a box!

…in a box!

…and inside of that box was the final box, which houses the figures.

AmiBlog Preview

This is another promotional image that was posted to AmiBlog. See the orange and gold Chiyochichi on top of the box? Both were event exclusives, so if you ordered from Dengekiya’s online shop like I did, you didn’t receive them with your set.

Continue reading

Doujinshi Review: Chromatic Gate – Xenoseries Full-color Illustration Anthology

27 Jan

Front Cover

“Chromatic Gate” is an A4-sized, 94 page full-color collection of illustrations released in May of 2012 to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of Xenosaga episode 1. The book features art of characters from all of the “Xeno” titles, including Xenogears, Xenosaga and Xenoblade, by 44 different artists.


Xenosaga cast by Otonagi

The book’s first illustration of course features Xenosaga, and is by Otonagi, whose pixiv you can see here.

Continue reading

Doujinshi Review: 白羽奈尾 1巻 Shirahane Nao vol. 1

22 Jan

Shirahane Nao (formerly known as Dmyo, which I still like to call her because it’s shorter) has been a favorite artist of mine since Icie first posted one of her doujinshi in his late “Hunting the Elusive” blog. She hails from Korea, but now lives in Japan and her Japanese language ability is pretty darn good. I’ve talked with her a few times on Twitter (in Japanese; I don’t know a lick of Korean!), and she’s an incredibly sweet person who shows overwhelming gratitude for her fans’ support.

白羽奈尾 1巻 (Shirahane Nao volume 1) is the first compilation of artworks completed under her new pen name. It’s also one of my personal favorites in my doujinshi collection.

Cover Art

Cover Art

When I purchased this doujinshi, it also came with a heavy cardstock poster of the artwork on the front cover. The contents are an assortment of illustrations from her past “Dmyotic” volumes with a few newer pieces added in.

Touhou, Oreimo and Ranma 1/2

Touhou, Oreimo and Ranma 1/2

I love seeing new art of classic characters, and this depiction of Ran-chan from Ranma 1/2 is just that! Another of my favorite characters is featured on the opposite page; Kousaka Kirono from Oreimo, and Flandre Scarlet from the wildly popular Touhou game series.

Suenaga Mirai

Suenaga Mirai

There’s no doubt in my mind that Shirahane Nao gained new fans and followers when internet otaku sensation and general animu-ambassador Danny Choo asked her to illustrate his mascot Suenaga Mirai. I was both shocked and excited at the reveal of her Mirai designs, and loved them enough to buy one of the giant banners of her illustrations to hang up in my room.

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Doujinshi Review: 猫の本 “Neko no Hon” by Various Artists

20 Jan

猫の本 (Neko no Hon) simply translates to “Book of Cats”. Being a cat lover, I couldn’t resist this purchase. A collaborative illustration book that was released for Comitia 95, it is beautifully designed by Maniji, a group consisting of SHINN and 今井 虹太郎 (Imai Kotaro).


Book design by SHINN

The cover design is simple and gorgeous. Matte black paper is complemented by a gold embossed title and best of all, a red ribbon with a delicate gold bell.


by Itou Hiroyuki (left) and Eihi (right)

This book showcases both cat-eared persons… and persons with cats.


by Kubota (left) and Juunigou (right)

If you’re like me, then you’ll be happy to know that for once, the characters aren’t exclusively female.


by Sakamoto Himemi (left) and Shiwasu Takashi (right)

Shiwasu Takashi’s piece of art on the right is one of my personal favorites.

Continue reading

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