Tag Archives: kunihiko tanaka

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.

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Artbook Review: Tanaka Kunihiko’s “RYU-KOTSU”

3 Sep

I’ve owned a copy of 田中久仁彦画集【龍骨】 (Tanaka Kunihiko’s “RYU-KOTSU”) for quite awhile, but it’s never too late to a review a book that has remained fairly elusive while being highly deserving of recognition. I first became a fan of Tanaka’s after playing (and becoming completely infatuated with) Squaresoft’s hit Playstation RPG Xenogears. He is perhaps best known as the character designer for both Xenogears and Xenosaga, as well as the mangaka of Ruin Explorers and Ichigeku Sacchu Hoihoi-san.

RYU-KOTSU is a 12″x12″ 192 page hardcover that comes cased in a foil-printed custom fit plastic sleeve.

A number of extras come along with the book, including a couple of postcards, an advertisement leaflet and a 32 page “Memoir of RYU-KOTSU” monochrome booklet. It’s all housed in specially made cardboard packaging.

Outside of the plastic sleeve, the book’s cover features a girl in front of a prehistoric skeleton. The inside of the front and back cover are lined with a beautifully textured faux red leather.

Inside RYU-KOTSU, you’ll see a fair bit of illustrations from this little story about a girl drawing dinosaur skeletons at a museum. There are color illustrations and then a manga at the back of the book, respectively. In between them, however, is a chronicle of Tanaka’s work from oldest to newest.

Excuse me, ma’am, but there is a pteradactyl flying overhead.

The book starts with the real old stuff. The art style is quite notably different!

Is this romance? I think so.

Further in past the stuff I don’t really recognize is a true classic. Fam and Ihrie of Ruin Explorers!

You can see his more recent style beginning to develop here.

This particular illustration is quite stunning in person. His style is really crisp and refined here!

Some more nice, dynamic Ruin Explorers illustrations.

There’s also a fair bit of monochromatic manga art in the book, for Ruin Explorers as well as some older stuff.

Tanaka Kunihiko was also the character designer for the “Key the Metal Idol” series, which many of you will recognize.

I wonder why I have never watched this series…

My favorite section, just because I love Xenogears so much. All of these illustrations will be familiar to you if you’re a fan, and they’re all included in the Xenogears Perfect Works artbook as well.

Many of the original character designs that are used over and over.

It comes as no shock that the next section features Xenosaga: Episode 1 artwork.

Xenosaga character designs, with a double dose of MOMO!

More recently, Tanaka has been surfing the oh-so-popular moe wave. Aren’t these two cute?

Hoihoi-san is pretty darn moe. I recommend this manga if you’re looking for something cute and silly. You can get it in English by Infinity Studios from Amazon. There’s also little snap-together plastic kits available of Hoihoi-san and Combat-san that you’ll see around the hobby shops. They’re relatively inexpensive for figures because you put them together yourself!

Following these pages are some more chibi/moe type paintings by Tanaka, but they’re in a style that I’m not particularly a fan of because they’re excessively simplistic. An example of these works is in his year 2000 calendar. They’re cute, but far from demonstrating his artistic abilities!

Near the end of the book is the manga I mentioned about the girl in the museum who is checking out dinosaur skeletons. There’s also lots of progress sketches for this manga in the “Memory of RYU-KOTSU” booklet.

The 32 page bonus booklet contains lots of sketches and linework for illustrations in RYU-KOTSU. There’s some absolutely EXQUISITE drawings in this book, so it is wonderful to see them included.

Various phases of one of the first illustrations in RYU-KOTSU.

I don’t know the origin of this particular image, but it was impressive enough for me to include it in the review!

I really liked seeing the original inked images for this manga. There’s something wonderful about being able to see those ink lines.

This leaflet appears to be advertising “RYU-KOTSU Benikohaku”, a small hardcover publication that my friend Anonymous Scanner has blessed us by scanning! You can see his post and download the scans here at his website.

The other side of the leaflet has Hoihoi-san and some other various characters. This is an ad for some ASCII Media Works / Dengeki Maoh publication.

RYU-KOTSU been out of print for awhile, so you can only get it from third party sellers on Amazon.jp. It’s generally very expensive to buy in new condition from Japan, so in this particular instance I recommend buying it from AnimeBooks.  You’d be hard pressed to find the same deal at any Japanese shop, as the book is apparently quite a bit more popular there.

Related Links:
Official RYU-KOTSU page on Fumishobo.co.jp
Day visions – Kunihiko Tanaka’s Blog
NETONEVISIONS – Kunihiko Tanaka’s Official Website

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