This was another artbook my friends recommended to me, and it’s quite an unusual one. It’s difficult to describe, but to me… this artbook managed to be elegant, haunting, beautiful and macabre at the same time. …not sure how.
Format: Hardcover with paper jacket, A4
Publisher: ???, August 2010
64 pages, full color, 3780yen (without tax)
Japanese text with English translation
When you see the price, and think about how it’s 200 pages less compared to Kazuaki Artworks… yea, this is a pricey artbook. Also, photos are rather dark… I tried a different approach, but then I got glares from the light reflecting off the page, and decided to use the darker photos instead.
The first thing I noticed was that each illustration in the book was given an English title, written on the illustration itself. I think the artbook was designed with international market in mind… there’s the illustration names in English, plus there were 2 essays at the back to accompany 2 illustrations which had been used as novel covers. Both of these essays were in Japanese, placed side by side with its English translation. And in case you’re wondering, the English translation was well written. Also, all the pages are coloured; no sketch or B&W illustrations. I think there’s only one 2-page illustration, and majority of the illustrations have white borders.
Throughout the illustrations, it felt like there’s a fascination with bones and death… the fascination with bones, there was one design of a high-heeled shoes incorporating a skull, or illustrations where bones were visible on (and sometimes out of) the body. The one with death… felt like the concept itself is incorporated into the idea of the illustration itself. …difficult to explain. A factor is probably the fact that all the characters were coloured using pale tones, giving it a feeling of someone close to death (to me anyway).
Speaking of characters, though… the anatomy was drawn in a very peculiar style. The photos I took don’t quite show what I mean, but the body proportions seemed to be rather elongated… my friend’s review can probably show that better.
One thing that made me really happy when I flipped through the pages was that there was a number of illustrations for faery tales. Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, Thumbelina, Red Shoes, Snow White… I’ve always liked re-interpretations of faery tales, and Kashima-sensei’s take on them was impeccable. I admit the one I picked as an example was actually the one that’s not really impressive (compared to the Sleeping Beauty); I just happened to like the overall composition.
Colouring and shading, as you can see, is very soft… but combined with the characters’ pale look, it gave them a ghostly feel, and everything just fit well together. There were intricate details scattered within the illustrations itself, but I like the way it’s done… the intricate details were used sparingly, so that they stood out. Again, I don’t think that’s the best explanation, but it’s really hard to describe these things in words…
Majority of the illustrations were girls, but near the end of the books there were guys too, and probably not for people who can’t stand hints of shounen-ai. Background was almost non-existent, but then again, it let the main focus stay on the subject, so… I thought having a detailed background would actually take away from the illustration itself.
While at the start I wasn’t even sure if I’d like this artbook, in the end it’s the faery tale illustrations that made me decide to keep the book… but it doesn’t rank among my favourite artbooks. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll put this up here for sale .__.;