Since people seemed to enjoy the first rundown, here’s another look at many interesting books released by individual staff members and creative teams during the last edition of Comiket. It’s not just a very direct way for them to reach fans, it also allows us access to production materials and original art that wouldn’t have been shared otherwise. Enjoy!
The Works of Mitsuo Iso for Animation 2 & exclusive flipbook – available on Amazon JP
Since last time we started off with the first book compiling the animation of living legend Mitsuo Iso, it only feels appropriate to do so again with its second volume. Not much point in reintroducing him, but considering how great of a release this is, there was no way I’d be skipping a recommendation. Not only does it include does it include about 50% more material, it also happens to cover many more of Iso’s iconic sequences – his unforgettable work on the likes of Evangelion, BLOOD THE LAST VAMPIRE, and his episode of RahXephon, lesser known contributions like those of Hashire Melos and the handful of layouts he drew for Perfect Blue, as well as some modern output in the form of Hirune Hime. I would highlight the emblematic Evangelion cuts, masterful in their craft and also interesting as a chance to look at his uncorrected output, as well as the extensive coverage of BLOOD. The book can’t fully capture the latter’s excellence since, much like his RahXephon work, it’s renowned because of his unbelievable mastery of digital effects for the time, but the animation on display is damn good nonetheless. The book is now available internationally on Amazon JP, but much like last time, if you were lucky enough to grab it at Comiket you also got a fantastic flipbook.
— 磯光雄IsoMitsuo 「磯光雄 ANIMATION WORKS vol.2」 (@IsoMitsuo) December 27, 2017
Takafumi Hori Key Animation Note 2017
If I had to recommend a single recent key animation book though, I might go with the latest compilation of Takafumi Hori’s work. Trigger’s de facto ace animator carried the fate of Little Witch Academia on his back, so fans of the series definitely shouldn’t miss a book that’s all about his output there. It’s particularly nice since he offers commentary on all these sequences in Japanese and perfectly translated into English, providing much more insight than barebones animation books do. That means you get to learn a bit about how he approaches animation… and hear a lot lamentations about the schedule, because you know how anime is. He explicitly asks not to reprint the material so I’ll hold back on that, but just look at his enchanting effects in motion. Hori really embodied LWA’s magic.
39★memories – The [email protected] Million Live’s roughly 5th anniversary celebration book
Another very special release, captained by Million Live’s character designer Futoshi Suzuki. This branch of imas is about to celebrate its 5th anniversary, which was good enough of an excuse to gather many of the talented artists who regularly contribute to it. Toshifumi Akai, Isao Hayashi, and Megumi Kouno are only a few of the many names involved, all of whom left heartfelt messages for the fans and the crew itself. To make things even better, they also made sure to include a compilation of key animation and corrections from its fancy animated PV, truly making it a worthwhile anniversary gift.
One common practice I didn’t really talk about last time was the release of staff books with varying degrees of officiality. Contributions from all sorts of creators involved in a production are often compiled as a fancy way to thank fans for their support once it’s over. Now this doesn’t mean they’re done with the series forever, since one of the most noteworthy ones this time around was the Made in Abyss book full of nice illustrations, but it’s a nice gesture to bid a particular title goodbye. Perhaps as a sign that late 2017 was loaded with noteworthy titles, Comiket 93 saw the release of a multitude of such releases. Princess Ancillary, the Princess Principal one, stands out as one of the most complete books of this kind I’ve ever seen. An incredibly thorough lineup of contributors, spanning every directorial, design, art, and animation roles. Plenty of beautiful drawings by the main character designer Yukie Akiya, and lots of insight by series director Masaki Tachibana, which makes it encapsulate the production as a whole quite well.
Meanwhile, the Blend-S book stood out for how well organized it was: the contributions of all artists involved, many of them talented animators like the always saucy Taiki Konno and Kengo Matsumoto, was accompanied by a simple questionnaire where they’d detail their role and then answer a couple of questions regarding the show. And of course, its inclusion of a bunch of key animation as an extra is an easy way into the heart of sakuga nerds as well. It’s not that there isn’t value in straightforward staff books, but I’ve got to appreciate the teams that put this much effort in something for fans.
But if you think all that fancy stuff isn’t for you, let me note that Fantasista Doll, a long forgotten pseudo-kids show that inexplicably aired latenight back in 2013, also just put together its staff book. It’s as austere as its gets, with only about a dozen of illustrations by some of its animators, but its existence is so endearing I couldn’t not buy it. If you want something more serious though, it’s worth noting that series with notable hype behind them have the custom of releasing a Starter Book – an official guide covering its main points, information about the first few episodes, and usually a bit of production materials too. Shows like DARLING in the FRANXX and Violet Evergarden received this treatment this time around, so you might still be able to grab their starter books.
Other notable animation and illustration books
Business as usual when it comes to the animation, with Yutaka Nakamura releasing yet another of his Incompleteness books, this time featuring some of his roughs for Blood Blockade Battlefront & Beyond – as you can tell, he was experimenting with perspective. Another animator with excellent spatial awareness who never misses an event is Shingo Fujii, who put out Anime Fuuraibou’s Animation Works 09. Since he hasn’t been all that active, the contents were easy to guess: his magical idol Anemone sequence serving as the preview for the next Eureka Seven film, which he storyboarded himself too.
When it comes to illustration work by industry members or those who aspire to be, the choices are plentiful. Rakugakies Vol.3 includes doodles by the mysterious young animation star soty, so I’m glad to have gotten my hands on it. Reliable animator Masaya Sekizaki also published a collection of drawings that showcase his preferences, while Twinlens take1 is a neat collaboration between up-and-coming animators with photography as the overarching theme. If you’re looking at these smaller, often more personal publications though, there’s one franchise that’s as inescapable as it name indicates: Fate. Mieko Hosoi is back with more F/GO on Servant #2, Hidekazu Ebina and Toshiya Kouno paid tribute to Apocrypha, and Kazuhiro Miwa even sort of leaked his role on Fate/Extra before it was officially confirmed by making it the theme of his new book.
As usual, there were more interesting releases I couldn’t manage to get – the new volume in Sejoon Kim‘s ongoing series of animation collections, the Recovery of an MMO Junkie production materials, Hiroyuki Imaishi‘s TTGL anniversary book, the studio PineJam key animation books and kappe‘s personal releases, Hakuyu Go‘s elusive book-for-Apocrypha-#22’s-staff-except-not-really, and so on. All things considered though, this was a plentiful bounty, which hopefully will give you a better idea about the publications by anime creators. See you next big event!