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[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

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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

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!

Crescens

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: Chromatic Gate – Xenoseries Full-color Illustration Anthology

27 Jan
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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.

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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

Artbook Review: The Legend of Zelda – Hyrule Historia

21 Aug

When it was announced that a 25th anniversary art book for The Legend of Zelda was being released, I was dead set on getting it. From the start, this book was highly sought after and it was sold out on Amazon.co.jp very quickly. I had a certain price limit in mind and I managed to acquire a copy from an eBay seller for a great price and free shipping.

I was on the fence about whether or not to review this because the book is incredibly text heavy. However, it was just recently announced that Dark Horse Comics would be translating this rare gem into English. I consequently decided that reviewing the Japanese version right now would be a great idea. Now you can all see what you have to look forward to!

Hyrule Historia dust jacket and obi strip.

ハイラル・ヒストリア ゼルダの伝説 大全: 任天堂公式ガイドブック or um, Hyrule Historia for short, is a hardcover 240 page Legend of Zelda guidebook released in December of 2011.

The book sans dust jacket.

The dust jacket itself is quite lovely, but the book itself is even more gorgeous underneath!

Continue reading

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