In the span of last 3 months I have treated myself a bit with the rest of the money after Christmas left me almost broke. However, I did not expect for my life to take yet another turn and I was not able to go back home, meaning all the stuff I’ve ordered in December and January did not arrive to me directly and had to wait for awhile to get them. I have only received them 2 weeks ago and this artbook was among one of them. I’ve been following the release of this book ever since it was announced but then life got busy and only mid-December I have managed to purchase it for a discounted price and I must say, this book is worth so much more.
Usually I post these reviews only to help people find more images and content as I often have trouble deciding whether an artbook is worth it but this time I just want to post to try and convince people to get it because I love this thing so much… aaaand I might just want to ramble a bit about it.
- Title: The Art of Fire Emblem: Awakening
- Origin: Fire Emblem: Awakening
- Artist: Kozaki Yusuke
- Language(s): English, Japanese
- Publisher: Dark Horse (EN), Ascii Media Works (JP)
- Size: Hardcover A4, 320 pages
I am sure most of you are familiar with Dark Horse but for those that aren’t, Dark Horse has already released their fair share of artbooks and, from my experience, all of them are hardcover, thick, full of content and quality. The only issue for me is that they usually focus on action games that I either haven’t played or have no interest in. That is to say, I do own a few for the games I adored but that’s about it. With all that in mind, you can imagine my surprise when I found out Dark Horse actually decided to pick this one up and I must say, I’m so glad they did. Everything about this book screams quality, from start to finish. If that wasn’t enough, Kozaki Yusuke, who did most of the artwork for this game is actually one of my favorite artists. I absolutely adore his style, not only in Fire Emblem games but in general. There is something about the way he draws features and the shading in his art that makes me appreciate it so much. While his artbooks are all high on my wish list, importing can cost quite a bit so I am so very happy I can have one of his artbooks in such a decent price. Why am I going on about the artist? because it’s him that was my main reason for purchasing The Art of Fire Emblem: Awakening. While I like the game, I haven’t checked out the japanese counterpart, it was a no-brainier precisely because of Kozaki but this book has so much more to offer than gorgeous art so let’s take a look at everything this beast hides! I apologize if the images aren’t the best quality, the pictures turned out much darker than I had hoped and the apartment is so dark and small, it’s rather challenging to photograph anything here.
First things first, let’s look at the book’s cover which features this stunning artwork of Lucina. It’s probably my favorite piece when it comes to the game’s artwork, it’s just so elegant and clean, I think it makes for an amazing cover making the book really stand out. As mentioned above, it is also hardcover and considering the amount of pages it has, the thing is huge. The quality of the paper is also top-notch, very thick to the point where at times I thought I skipped a page.
This book is categorized into 6 sections, all of which I will cover in this review as we go on. Despite being a 300+ pages book, you can hardly find any white, wasted space. Whenever the content is not taking up the whole page, you will get some content in it’s place. Usually it’s something called “character dialogue” which is pretty much what it sounds like. I admit I am not a huge fan of the idea but I think it’s impressive they at least bothered to fill up all of the free space.
The categories are:
- Official Illustration Gallery | pages 5-76
- Concept Art | pages 77-136
- Story Event Illustrations | pages 139-175
- Players’ Voices | pages 177-184
- Character Profiles | pages 185-215
- Support Conversations | pages 217-320
- Official Illustration Gallery
In this section we have most of the official illustration works that was drawn for Fire Emblem: Awakening. First few pages showcase illustrations from music collection cover, game cover, the artbook’s cover and an illustration from pre-paid Nintendo card, all in superb quality. Next, we have all of the playable characters’ artwork. Each character takes up 1 page, resulting in big, high quality art of each of the characters (aside from maybe Olivia, whose portrait seems to have worse quality). I really love the layout for these pages. I adore the colors in the background mixed in with the part where you see the outline of each character’s in-game portrait. I feel like it makes the pages a bit more lively, visually pleasing and there is generally more going on as opposed to how most artbooks handle character pages. The only issue I have is that on a very few pages the colors feel a little mismatched but the rest looks fantastic. You can also find the character’s name, in-game title, as well as one of their quotes.
After going through all of the Awakening’s characters, we have last few pages dedicated to FE heroes that made a cameo in the 2012 FE installment. The illustrations here are drawn by various artists and while I personally do not appreciate the mix and match of different artists all put so closely together, I am sure some old school Fire Emblem fans will appreciate it. Throughout the section we have a few story event illustrations here and there, which seems a little weird considering there is a whole other section dedicated for them but at least we get to admire them in such high resolution.
- Concept Art
For those who enjoy looking through character designs and concept art this section has a lot to offer. There isn’t much to say about this section in all honestly, it’s the same as in any other artbook. I love noticing the details in designs and outfits so these are always interesting to me, however I do get bitter when I see some early design concept art that I prefer over original. I think I only wish it had a little bit more content since I feel like there was definitely more to show but it’s still quite thick. Aside from character concept art, we have some pages dedicated to costume concept art as well as weapon designs.
- Story Event Illustrations
As the title suggests, the first thing we get in this section are all 20 story event illustrations in high quality, followed by proposal event illustrations which are adorable. Next up are cutscene storyboards, showcasing how the cutscenes came to be. Not much to say and describe here so onto the pictures!
- Players’ Voices
I think this section is something some might find useless and some interesting. I don’t have much of an opinion, I guess given the price I paid for this book was pretty decent and I did not overpay so I can’t complain about anything. In here we get some humorous comics/manga panels as well as some poll results for fan favorites. With the results, the book provides fan’s opinions and reasoning for their choices, as well as a page dedicated to fan’s most favorite thing about the game itself.
- Character Profiles
This section includes character profiles not only of all the playable character, side characters and different versions of Robin but also enemy classes. The profiles include some basic information about each character, such as name, English VA, DOB, original class, official profile, information taken from historical records but also corresponding character sprites showcasing different expressions which I love. All of the additional space is filled up with character epilogues (“married life as recorded in historical records”). Following up we have website background illustrations which are higher quality than what I saw online awhile ago, and tons of character cards from Einherjar Cards. They are small but (mostly) quite pretty. Fans of older games could certainly appreciate this section more than I can. Lastly, there are 2 pages dedicated to glossary which is quite handy if you’re confused regarding some terms or simply don’t remember the game as well as you’d like.
- Support Conversations
This was a big surprises. I have not expected to see of the support conversations between the characters included. I can’t let you know whether they missed anyone or not as I can’t imagine reading through all of this at once but I think it was such a great idea to include this. Instead of replaying the game and grinding, you can check for certain support conversations here and read through them. I suppose YouTube is always easy to access but for those that prefer the reading format, this is a fantastic option. I will definitely take advantage of this at some point. It’s also worth noting that the whole section is printed on a different paper and I kind of love the idea. Looks classy.
As I have said before, this book is filled with content and it’s more like a combination of an artbook and encyclopaedia in one book. I simply cannot emphasize enough how quality this book is and how it’s worth much more than the current retail price especially considering the price drops.
The Art of Fire Emblem: Awakening is a fantastic item for any fan of the game, as well as an beautiful book to add to your collection if you want to mass up a quality collection. If you have been on the edge about this book, I hope this post helped you decide whether it’s a book for you or not since this was kind of the idea. I can’t get enough of it and it’ been fun reviewing it, although I am once again sorry for the quality of everything. Right now it’s being discounted at £23 (UK) and $23 (US).