For those that do not know, Code:Realize is one of my favorite visual novels and easily the best otome game I have played to this day. There has been only around 4 otome games that I have been hyped for and, admittedly, the art is one of my main reasons. It wasn’t different for this game. While the plot seemed interesting enough, I have adored the art for it ever since a friend linked me to it. Then Code:Realize has been finally licensed and I have gotten it as a Christmas gift in 2015 (bless the UK eBay seller who sold imported copies). However, there is only so much you achieve with gorgeous art, if the game is bad not even the art will save it.
Code:Realize ended up being so much more than I could’ve ever hoped for and my love for the art and the game left me wishing I had any merchandise of the game at all. For a year I have been wishing to own this artbook when I finally found it in a reasonable price and decided to just go for it. All I have to say is: no regrets.
- Title: Code:Realize ~Sousei no Himegimi~ Artbook
- Origin: Code:Realize ~Sousei no Himegimi~
- Artist: Miko
- Language(s): Japanese
- Publisher: — (EN), Hifumi Shobou (JP)
- Size: A4, 208 pages
This book is incredibly gorgeous and with a really classy design. Each page, instead of white background, is covered in these elegant subtle patterns and I love it. Why? I am not a huge fan of the white spaces often left if an image isn’t big enough but the way Code:Realize artbook handles it doesn’t make it stand out as much. Of course it’s a shame if a mid-size art takes up a whole page but it looks much more pleasant when in the background we don’t get the distracting white space but instead something that makes everything blend together nicely.
The artist responsible for the art of Code:Realize is Miko, one that I knew nothing about prior to the game. Afterwards I checked out some of her other works and I wouldn’t mind buying her other artbooks but due to having no emotional attachment to the games (having never played them) they are on low priority list. Her work for Code is my favorite though, I love the steampunk settings and designs, as well as the character designs being just so much more appealing to me in general. Needless to say, Miko’s art generally is just stunning and if you haven’t checked out any of her works before, I recommend you give it a try.
Let’s get onto the cover section of this review. Very often there isn’t much to say and show but what I like about Japanese artbooks is that they have dust sleeves and sometimes the cover underneath may actually differ. It’s usually far more simplistic but nevertheless, I really quite like that aspect of them. In this instance, the actual cover of the book is the same illustration as the one used on the dust sleeve. The only difference is that it’s black & white, same with the back of the book. The dust sleeve portrays one of the cutest works that Cardia has with Lupin. It’s dynamic yet elegant and I love it to bits. Part of the reason might be because I have stared at this artbook for so long online it just makes me so happy to own it. The back of the book is, on the other hand, rather boring although I suppose it’s a nice touch from the game.
Code:Realize artbook has 4 categories and 6 sub-categories in total and, like in my previous review, I will review them as we go on. Being a 200-page book, it is about the average size for most Japanese artbooks out there so not too heavy and won’t take too much space on your shelf either. For the comparison image, I have used the very same artbook as in my previous review but keep in mind that The Art of Fire Emblem: Awakening is quite the beast so this thing might look small in comparison but it’s about as thick as most artbooks ten to be.
- Gallery | pages 3-62
- Event Graphics | pages 63-160
- Arsene Lupin | pages 63-80
- Abraham Van Helsing | pages 81-98
- Victor Frankenstein | pages 99-114
- Impey Barbicane | pages 115-128
- Saint-Germain | pages 129-142
- Others | pages 143-160
- Character Design | pages 161-198
- Rough Design | pages 199-207
The first section of the artbook, Gallery, is easily my favorite one. All the glorious Code:Realize art in such high quality just in front of me for my eyes to admire. The point of collecting artbooks is basically the preference of owning the art and having it in your hand rather than just looking at it online but holy, this art looks so much better in hand. There is also the fact that details are much easier to notice when you look at the art in a book or print over looking at it online and it’s no different here. I can’t believe I haven’t noticed some of the patterns and decorations on the images before.
We also have a couple of small-size images, some crossovers with Trigger Kiss, as well as illustrations of Code:Realize characters drawn by other artists. I can’t really recognize most of them but Hanamura Mai, another artist I rather like. This section honestly has a mix of gorgeous, cute and humorous pieces in it and I adore it. Also, again, due to the size of most of these I cannot emphasize how happy I am that they decided not to go with the white background, the images blend in nicely and everything looks perfect.
Well… nearly everything. There is only one thing that really bothered me and it was the fact that a few images were repeated. Not many, around 4 illustrations, but I can’t help but find it a little irritating. They tried to make it different by re-arranging the characters, removing some of the background details and putting them in different resolutions but I really don’t understand the point and think is looks simply awkward. I was thinking that perhaps they wanted to fill up the 208 pages but at the same time, because it was only 4 illustrations, it wouldn’t be hard to do it by re-arranging the layout of 2 pages. Sometimes it also looks really weird on the full page illustrations when one of the characters happens to be in the middle and his face nearly gets cut in half but I suppose it’s not as bad as I’ve seen before and it looks better in hand compared to the pictures.
- Event Graphics
I am not going to go over every sub-category given how it’s mostly CGs and I don’t want to spoil anyone but, in general, this section is split into 6 sub-categories. 5 for individual characters and 1 left for the rest of the cast. Each section starts with a title page, with images of the characters, pattern and game backgrounds behind them, as well as the names of the characters featured in each sub-category. I have only included Lupin’s one due to spoilers but every other title page looks just as fantastic. Inside we have all the CG illustrations from the game, each in the corresponding category. You also get small annotations saying which chapter the CG is from, as well as the name of the chapter. Under most of the CGs you get some text which I am assuming are quotes related to the scene it shows, don’t quote me on that though since I can’t read Japanese. Lastly, a neat little detail I have noticed is in one of the patterns appearing throughout the category. It has a symbol at the end of it and it changes in each sub-category to represent the character. For example; in Lupin’s section it has a hat, in Fran’s it has flasks (as showcased in one of the images). It’s in those details like this one where you can see how much attention was put into making this artbook.
- Character Design
There really isn’t much to say here, yet again. Code:Realize it’s always beautiful so even the sketches and concept art looks really pretty to me. It’s really nice to see how the characters could’ve looked and I am so glad they went with the Van’s design as final one. They also showcase the details on some of their accessories when I haven’t even noticed some of them while playing the game.
Most of the text is in Japanese, including Illustrator’s commentary, but the profiles for the characters are actually in English which is pretty neat for those of us who have to import.
Also, Fran without glasses.
- Rough Design
Very short section, as it only consists of 8 pages of content with 1 page as the title page. Mainly includes sketches for the CG illustrations. These contain spoilers so open on your own accord.
If you have made it throughout the whole post, you are probably already tired of my gushing over how happy I am to own it and how beautiful it is but it is perfect for any fan of the Code:Realize who likes not only the story but the characters and their design. It might not be the thickest artbook out there but it has enough content to make any fan happy, I think. If that book is not enough for you, there are a few BLog books out there that you could purchase. Me? I will probably purchase the newest one and likely skip on the older ones for now while concentrating on high priority artbooks instead. This book completely satisfies me and, to me, it feels like the ultimate artbook out of the 3 but that’s just my opinion.
How do the 3 books compare? I cannot say. I do not own them and it’s very hard to find enough images out them to be able to outright compare. Both of them were also published by a different company that took care of the Code:Realize Official Artbook.
The 1st book from the BLog Collection seems more similar to the book I have just reviewed but with far more text and information in it. From what I have gathered, it includes illustrations, character pages with a lot of text as well as concept art pages that are much more cluttered than this one. The CGs scenes are also showcased and, while not looking quite as visually appealing as in this artbook due to the page layouts, they seem to provide quite a bit of information. There is also that it has a dark background. Safe to say, it’s pretty much a mix of an artbook and a fan book.
Table of content (translated from Japanese): Illustration Gallery, Introduction of Characters, CG Events & Stories, Special Public (?), Capture Information
The 2nd book from the BLog Collection seems to concentrate more on the settings and character pages with their expressions displayed. The backgrounds is actually something that I think could’ve been easily added to this book but alas! I would love to own it but I think it might not be worth importing fees for me at this point, giving how many artbooks I have on my wishlist.
Table of content: Characters, Background Art Works, Background History, Mechanics Art Works.