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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!

dmmd_artworks-00

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.

dmmd_artworks-01

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.

dmmd_artworks-02

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.

dmmd_artworks-03

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

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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!

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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.

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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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Artbook Review: Jewel – CARNELIAN ARTWORKS

9 Aug

Carnelian was the very first eroge/doujin artist I fell in love with, so I’m beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to review this new book. If you follow Carnelian’s work, you’ll know that until now, she never really had a real commercial artbook release. There’s been a fair share of visual books, along with Carnelian Collection and Carnelian Museum – Orbit Works, but the vast majority of the content has been event CGs from the various games she’s worked on. I’m very glad to say that Jewel is the book Carnelian fans have been waiting for.

Jewel follows the trend of having both a limited edition and regular edition. As far as Amazon.co.jp is concerned, I seem to remember the limited edition having actually sold out during the preorder period. I have not seen the regular edition in person, so I cannot say how similar they are. The limited edition, however, comes with a monochrome bonus book  of sketches and rough work called “Ore”. (Get it? Jewel and Ore? Yeah. Ok.) This is the edition I will be presenting.

Cover

Limited Edition Cover

The book jacket is printed on thick paper with a rough sort of texture, and the title, “Jewel” has a holographic foil embossing treatment.

Black & White Alice

There are tons of newer illustrations within, as well as older ones. Remember Carnelian’s hand-drawn color doujinshi “The Sanctuary Knocker”? The entire thing is actually inside of “Jewel”, along with some her full color BENIGYOKUZUI books from the past few years.

Kao no nai Tsuki

There is actually a refreshingly small amount of the same old game artwork we see from Carnelian in this book. Some of her best Kao no nai Tsuki illustrations are highlighted, and they’re well deserving of being presented alongside the other promotional pieces of art.

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Pimp out your Starbucks Travel Mug with an 痛ンブラー

30 Mar

Many of you are familiar with 痛車 (itasha), the cars that are decked out with anime decals. While most folks aren’t quite “hardcore” enough to turn their car into an itasha, most any anime fan can easily get away with pimping out their travel mug. Thus we have the 痛ンブラー (itanburaa) which is a combination of 痛 (ita) and タンブラー (tumbler). There’s lots of doujin tumblers and even officially licensed tumblers that you can get ahold of, but you can actually just bypass all that and get yourself a really great custom artwork insert for your clear tumbler by checking out the 痛ンブラー and タンブラー tags on pixiv. (The former will yield more results, but it’s worth it to check out both!)

Starbucks Girl by Easycrew

Just in case you needed a reason to love Starbucks... (art by Easycrew)

I’ll get you started with some great designs I found while perusing the aforementioned tags!

Amazon.co.jp Box Design

12oz insert by King Kazuma

This faux Amazon.co.jp box design insert is by King Kazuma, who has quite a few really awesome tumbler designs, so you should check out his entire gallery. Among them are a fake Canon DSLR lens, some classy Starbucks designs, Burberry check pattern and a few really great Summer Wars inserts, to boot!

Summer Wars

12oz insert by King Kazuma

Looks pretty sweet, right?

NERV

by fallthing

I have to admit I’m pretty fond of this clever NERV design by fallthing. “M-2 Portable Drink Temperature Retainer”? Yes, please.

Starchild Coffee

by Marimo

Here’s one for the Ghost in the Shell fans; illustrated by Marimo.

Penguin's Coffee

12oz insert by Hiropon

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m a little bit obsessed with Mawaru Penguindrum right now. It probably helps that I’ve always loved penguins!

Starbucks Template

by Hazuki

Want to just design your own Starbucks logo? I’ll let you do that, too! This blank is by Hazuki.

If you can’t find what you want, it’s actually pretty easy to create your own insert. All you have to do is Google “Starbucks Tumbler Template” and you should be able to find a PSD or JPG file of whatever tumbler size you’re looking for. If you’re feeling lazy (and who can blame you if you haven’t had any coffee yet?), here’s an 8oz template, a 12oz template and a 16oz template that you can play around with. Doujin circle Chocolate Shop also has a tutorial on creating your tumbler here, and it includes a PSD template. (Psst, you can even get Choco’s own awesome tumbler designs here!)

Now that you’re armed and ready to go, whip up your own custom tumbler! When you’re done, I’d love to see photos of it, so feel free to post a comment with an image link or tweet me at @ladyriven! Have fun!

Doujinshi Review: “The Contract” by Lavender-Ice

3 Sep

“The Contract” is another Madoka themed doujinshi, this time by Lavender-Ice and a group of other English speaking artists on deviant Art. I don’t normally purchase doujinshi through people on deviant art and it is usually because they sell out long before I even discover they’re available. In this case, I discovered “The Contract” during its pre-order period and was thus able to get myself a copy.

Book and Stickers

Book and Stickers

All pre-orders of “The Contract” came with the buyer’s choice of 3 stickers. I chose my favorite 3 characters from the series; Kyuubey, Mami and Homura.

Madoka & Mami

Madoka & Mami

The majority of the illustrations in this book are by Lavender-Ice. She’s started the book off with a number of pages dedicated to each individual character.

Printing Close-Up

Printing Close-Up

One of my main concerns with doujinshi printed outside of Asia is the quality of printing. I don’t expect it to be on par as self-publishing seems to be a much bigger deal in other countries. The printing in this book isn’t the greatest (something to consider should you choose to use the printing service that I will mention later) in that is has that “this was printed by an inkjet” look to it, with a bit of screening and fuzziness. I would say it’s about the same quality as if it were printed in a magazine.

Sayaka & Kyouko

Sayaka & Kyouko

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Doujinshi Review: “if ~ to the world which is kind to all ~” by Yuugen

1 Sep

A c80 release from Yuugen (of the doujinshi circle Caslton), “if” is exclusively a Madoka Magica themed full-color illustration doujinshi of the utmost quality. My decision to purchase this book was based solely on the fact that it includes my absolute favorite piece of Madoka fanart thus far. To my delight, the rest of the content is on par with the beauty of this illustration.

"if" cover - Homura and Madoka

The cover image, which wraps around to the back, can also be viewed at Yuugen’s pixiv as a photoset. Clearly, Homura is giving Madoka a good talking to on the matter of whether or not she should become a magical girl.

Intro Page

Page 1 is a colorful collage which previews all of Yuugen’s artwork therein. I’m actually pretty impressed by the graphic design here.

Homura

We are greeted reluctantly by an angry Homura with guns. Of course she is presented in a way which allows easy pantsu viewing access.

Sayaka and Kyouko

Next is a sweeping image of Sayaka and Kyouko flying over the city. Notice that Kyouko can’t even put her Pocky down long enough to go into battle. I suppose it’s a good thing anime girls can’t get fat.

Pillow Talk

It seems as though Homura and Madoka are having a girl’s slumber party here. Oh, if only their lives were so quaint.

My personal favorite...

This is the illustration that drove me to purchase this doujinshi. The tears flying out of Madoka’s eyes as she reaches for Homura’s hand, Kyouko using Kyuubey as a hang-glider and Mami worrying about flashing her pantsu all contribute to an image that brings out the more adorable side of the series. (Of course, if this was all the show consisted of, it wouldn’t be the brilliant series that it is!) I strongly encourage you to check out the digital version of this illustration here, as my photo clearly does not do it the justice it deserves.

Cover Illustration

Once again we’re presented with the cover illustration; this time without any text. Make sure you check out the digital version of this one as well.

Sexy Mami

No Madoka doujinshi would be complete without some busty Mami fanservice. The illustration is actually done so that her foot in the foreground appears out of focus, so that’s not part of my camera trickery. Those blue popsicles that are so popular in Japan are actually flavored like ramune soda. They’ve become a Japanese trademark of scenes depicting hot summer days!

Guest Illustrations

There’s a filler page or two (not pictured) and then two guest illustrations. The bad-ass Homura is by Shirabi (digital version) and the bundle of chibi characters is by Noro (digital version). Shirabi’s Homura is probably my 2nd favorite illustration in the whole book!

4-Koma

Throw in a couple more filler pages and there’s a few more pages full of 4-Koma (4 panel comic strips) before the end of the book. I only photographed these pages for example. There’s more of ’em!

Credits

There’s another collage type page where Yuugen mashed all of his drawings together into one image, and at last we’re presented with this credit page which I sort of feel obligated to photograph just because.

Once in awhile I spend a lot of money on a doujinshi that ends up being mediocre and I’m kicking myself for a long time afterwards. I like to think that by reviewing the books I buy that I can help others to avoid the same dilemma and also discover awesome new artists. This particular book is one I am so pleased with that it makes up for some of my lesser quality purchases and reminds me just why I buy doujinshi in the first place. If you love Madoka and are a doujin collector, I certainly consider “if” a must-get.

p.s. – The actual title on the book cover is “if ~ to a world whitch is kind to all ~”, but I’ve corrected the spelling error in my review title. If you’re doing a search for the book, it may be to your benefit to consider typing in the misspelling.

Magazine Review: Animedia Deluxe

18 Apr

Have you ever wished that there was a Megami Deluxe type of magazine aimed at a female audience, with great artworks of male characters? Well, your wish has sort of come true. Animedia Deluxe not only focuses on male characters, it’s also a magazine consisting of 100% full color artworks which are unhindered by text. It is worth noting that none of the illustrations span two-page spreads, thus making them crease free and suitable for framing if you wish to remove them. All of the landscape format illustrations are positioned sideways inside of the book. In addition too all of the ‘mini-posters’ that this magazine consists of, there’s also a double-sided B3 sized poster which is folded and included in the center of the magazine.

Cover Image from "Hakuoki"

The magazine is separated into 8 sections; each section features a different anime series with a varying amount of pages, which seems to be somewhat dependent on how popular that particular anime has been so far.

Image index for "Hakouki" section

The only pages in the book that are not full color illustrations are the index pages for each series. The index page contains page numbers and thumbnails for each illustration!

Hakouki Shinsengumi Kitan

The first section has 8 illustrations from Hakuouki Shinsengumi Kitan, which based on a very successful otome game series in Japan. I’m a big fan of the artwork of Kazuki Yone, who does the artwork for all of the Hakuouki games.

Hetalia

Section 2 is 9 pages of the wacky series Hetalia. This is a really popular show and one I’ve been meaning to watch for awhile now.

Fullmetal Alchemist

The newer Fullmetal Alchemist series (aka “Brotherhood”) gets royal treatment at 19 pages of illustrations!

Kuroshitsuji II

Like FMA, Kuroshitsuji (the second series, to be specific) gets another meaty section of the magazine at 18 pages.

Sengoku BASARA

I know virtually nothing about Sengoku BASARA, other than that it exists and it has some dudes in it. This series gets 10 pages of illustrations in the magazine.

Durarara!!

I was quite pleased that the incredible “Durarara!!” made it into the book, as it was one of my favorite series of the past year. I only wish it had more seasons because I’m dying to know what happens next. It is less represented at only 5 illustrations, however.

Tegami Bachi

Tegami Bachi (aka “Letter Bee”) is a unique show that I’ve seen just a bit of. It has a kind of fantasy mixed with Steampunk feel to it. The character designs are also really interesting. It gets another humble 5 images in the book.

Kaichou wa Maid sama!

The final section is a typical but cute looking shoujo series called “Kaichou wa Maid sama!” This series sort of skipped over my radar as I tend to be a sucker for high school romance shoujo but I might check it out sometime.

Back Cover

The back cover has some thumbnails that preview the contents, which was useful for me at least because the magazine came shrink-wrapped. This is probably to keep people from swiping the loose poster inside.

Hakouki (Side 1)

Fullmetal Alchemist (Side 2)

The double-sided B3 poster is quite lovely. The front features the Hakuouki illustration which is also on the front of the magazine, and the back is a Fullmetal Alchemist image with Ed and Al looking very much all-growed-up. :D

Magazine purchases can be a huge gamble as they cost a lot to import and the contents vary greatly. Animedia Deluxe turned out to be a stellar purchase that really delivered to what some would consider to be a ‘niche market’. It’s hard to find anime magazines aimed at women that aren’t strictly yaoi-centric, so this one was a great find that I highly recommend even if you don’t care for magazines.

Doujinshi Review: Ura-Benigyokuzui VOL.2 Full Color by Carnelian

18 Jan

Carnelian’s “Ura-Benigyokuzui” doujinshi contain Carnelian’s illustrations of male characters. There are 3 volumes of Ura-Benigyokuzui that I know of, one of which is this one, that is in full color. You may find it somewhat confusing that “Vol. 2 full color” is a completely different doujinshi than “Vol. 2“. I’ve no idea of the reasoning behind it. If there exists a full color volume 1, I do not know anything about it. In case you’ve ever wondered, “BENIGYOKUZUI” or 紅玉髓 is the Chinese writing for “Carnelian”. The use of “Ura” in front of it denotes that is the opposite or underside of something. In this case, it refers to the illustrations being of boys rather than of girls.

This was one of my most sought after doujinshi for 3 reasons:
1. It’s Carnelian’s work.
2. It is in color.
3. It’s GUYS!

Not that I don’t love Carnelian’s gorgeous girl illustrations. It’s just that I’m a girl and I like boys. It happens, okay?

Onto the photographs!

Ura-Benigyokuzui

The cover is a shounen ai illustration of Gundam SEED characters, and is my favorite image in the book.

Inside the front cover.

The first page is monochrome. I’m guessing this is also Gundam SEED fanart.

With a ZOOM LAYER!

The cover image is so hot, it’s also the first color image in the book… and the second. Gratuitous zoom layer: ON!

Are those Jelly Bellies?!

The next page is some guys with jelly beans. It reminds me of Kyou Kara Maoh!

Cloud and Zack

If nothing else, I would have purchased this book for the opportunity to see a drawing of Cloud by Carnelian. I’ve always been a Cloud fan. I don’t particularly care either way for the Cloud x Zack pairing though. I liked him with Aerith. ;p

REBORN!

The next page is Katekyo Hitman Reborn! fanart. If you really like this one, the premier self-titled doujinshi “Chrysoprase” is full of these guys. (Chrysoprase is a doujinshi circle consisting of Carnelian and Amamiya Polan.)

BL Novel Illustration

The next page’s illustration (and character design sketches) were done for the cover of a BL novel entitled 社交界艶戯. It seems to be out of print, but you can still get it used.

Devil May Cry

Fanart for “Devil May Cry”, which I’ve never played. Hey, there’s that zoom layer again!

Messiah

Takuto from “Messiah”, looking beautiful as ever, and forlorn because his face is stuck in the book binding. Poor Takuto.

Trick or Treat

The last page is a Halloween themed sketch. I think that these are original characters.

URA-Ura-Benigyokuzui

The End!

This book was particularly difficult to photograph. I had to hold the book open with one hand and photograph it with the other. ^^; I ended up taking the photos so that you don’t see any of my hand that is holding the book open, but you also don’t see any of the page margins which have writing on them. Each page says “CARNELIAN” on it somewhere as well as an image description. At least you know what’s inside now, right?

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