Manga: The Art of Yasushi Suzuki
Mangaka: Yasushi Suzuki (Art)
Publisher: DrMaster/DGN Production Inc. (USA)
Price: 21,50€
Additional Information: Not a licensed product, but an own production. Includes a foreword and two interviews in Japanese and English.

Hehe, I never thought I’ll ever review, let alone buy, an artbook. “Never say never.” –what a fitting proverb… to mostly everything. First of all I want to mention that it’s all ballzy’s fault for pulling me down to the abyss of art books. Visit his blog (link dead) if you enjoy art books, are into figures, or just like the sound of rarely encountered words chained together in epic pieces of randomness. I recommend it! Not for your sanity though!

Now, reviewing manga is not new for me, but reviewing an art book surely is. There’s no story in an artbook, so what exactly am I suppose to review? To find out more about the release click on “Read more”, as I’ll start by outlining the overall design of the DrMaster’s release:

As this was my first artbook I was surprised that it had such a firm, yet flexible lactic-see through sleeve. It is then contemplated by two nice engravings, one big version on the back, while a smaller one decorates the front. Entwined around the smaller one is the title of the book held in an opal grey, so that it does not interfere with either –the engraving or the cover page beneath it.

The inner side of the front protective cover has a comment from the artist, in both, English and Japanese. What I was surprised that he personally handpicked art from over ten years, I always thought that art books are more about recent work or at least within a time span of two or three years, but I guess I was wrong.

When I was first looking through the available artbooks on several online stores, the cover of Yasushi Suzuki’s immediately struck my attention. It was left simple, very non-artificial; just how I like it. It shows a somewhat malicious-looking woman in a classic Japanese spring-coloured dress, holding or unfolding, what seems to be a parasol. She’s standing in front of a pillar and if you let your imagination loose, in a garden or near a field.

The book continues with a foreword by Dave Halverson, editor-in-chief of the American magazine Play. The foreword has been, like the comment, translated from Japanese. With no further adieu, the display of huge talent begins. Some of the few first pages I already knew from the preview which can be found here. These also convinced me to buy this artbook, even if the latter pictures possibly didn’t fit my taste. However my slight fear was totally rendered obsolete. The artbook was able to entertain me through its 65 or 84 pages, if you count the interviews, the foreword and the other pages. The different art, the variety of objects, scenes, characters, and colours was able to fully engulf my consciousness and really made me want to draw again, something I haven’t been doing lately at all.

Suzuki Page 6

A piece that was really stunning and I just have to show you, was one on page fourteen: A Storm of Swords Book 1, by George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire”). I loved the lady’s dress and the green night background with the starry sky and the blossoming flowers gave off a pastoral feeling. I really like how the background slowly fades into the foreground and how they intertwine each other.

The next illustration I want to describe is from the book “Meitou Densetu: The Legend of the Japanese Sword Katana” by Hidehiko Maki, where an old, poorly dressed samurai fights a younger and more prosperous man in a fierce battle. In front of them rises a beautiful katana that slowly tarnishes, when reaching to the paper border.

There are many more illustrations I would love to talk about, but that would clearly go beyond my scope and time here. Before concluding this review, however, I want to mention the one-shot previews from “Phantoms: The Soul in a Cage”, a full-coloured and full size comic by Sazuki, will be released by DrMaster in 2008 and they added as sneak peeks here. It showed excellent illustrations and I’m looking forward to the release. There’s also a double page with some character designs for this fall coming manga (though the current release date is set to 27th December), Purgatory Kabuki, Suzuki’s first attempt in a full-length manga and they look very promising.

Overall, I was quite impressed, though that may be due to the fact that I never bought an artbook before. The overall design, the nice paper quality ( –guess I’ll have to donate some money to Greenpeace, so they plant some new rain forest trees), and the snippets of his future projects satiated my need for beautiful art. Furthermore I liked the additional information written down in the Interviews, I found some of the questions very interesting, even though I’m not into Asian-style games at all (Starcraft: Broodwar and Warcraft III all the way!). Yet, and this may very well be my only negative remark, they didn’t talk much about his thoughts on his own works, like how and why he drew them like that and etc.

Final Comment: So by buying this art book I took one more step into the slump of addiction to art, manga and anime. Once again, I want to blame thank ballzy for eagerly manipulating me. Jokes aside, this will not be the last art book I’ll be buying or reviewing, I currently just can’t decide which one to buy next: “WATER”/”Sumi” by Takehiko Inoue , Shutter Kill by Yusuke Kozaki, responsible for the character design in Speed Grapher and mangaka of Kyoko Karasuma, or Korean Illustrations. You’ll see… I guess.

Extra Information: If you want to read an interview with the artist go here. Although it dates back to the 12th of January it still might be interesting for you to read.
For a different review and more pretty pictures go here. They are more experienced in reviewing art books, but nonetheless the reviewer agrees on its overall loveliness.