Title: Shining Tears – Collection of Visual Materials
Artist: Tony Taka
Format: Softcover, 8.5 x 11.25 inches
First Published: March 2005
Purchase Price: $28 US
Purchased From: Animebooks
If you can recall, March 2005 had the release of Shining Tears. If you can’t, I don’t fault you; it was an action RPG that has the dubious honor being X-Play’s “3rd Worst PS2 Game Ever”. Perhaps the reason was because of the game’s lineage: the Shining series was beloved for its tactical titles and reviled for its drastic changes in genre. Regardless, the artwork was pleasant enough to catch my eye and I would learn that Tony Taka, or just plain ‘Tony’ was responsible for it. Then I would later learn that he was also responsible for the art of several of Japan’s infamous ‘adult’ games. Yes, that kind of game. Not surprising, considering how many artists dabble in the erotic: Ghost in the Shell’s Masamune Shirow or Growlanser’s Satoshi Urushihara. Even Akira Toriyama of Dragon Quest and Dragonball fame ended up in the adult artbook Bitch’s Life Illustration File.
Tony’s Shining Tears – Collection of Visual Materials is as its name suggests: an artbook containing all things visually related to Shining Tears. His art may have struck a chord with fans of Shining Tears, what with the sequel Shining Wind bearing his touch.
It opens with a gallery of 24 full color images, all illustrations of the Shining Tears cast; the females take up most of those pages. The fact that they seem to have more love invested into them should be expected, given Tony’s background. Following that is a four page interview with the man himself, which then segues into the individual character illustrations. Thirteen pages of character graphics, since there are thirteen principle characters. Then 24 pages of their profiles, containing early sketches and portraits.
At this point, we’re then treated to about 27 pages describing the Shining Force world; not a good thing if you’ve bought this for the art. In this “World” section, there’s also artwork for the landscapes, NPCs, and enemies. This artwork appears to have been done by another artist, as the style varies too greatly and Tony appears to have been billed only for character design.
There’s a second interview with Tony and the storyboards for the opening cinematic, side-by-side with the finished product for comparison. To end the book, we’re provided fifteen pages of linework selected from the gallery section.
I know Visual Materials sounds like it holds a great deal but it’s only 127 pages. Out of that 127, I’d believe 76 are pure art; taking out the fifteen pages of linework, as they’re reiterations of gallery work, brings us down to 61 pages. So if it is quantity you’d like in your artbooks, this one’s lacking. This is not something unexpected; “visual collection” artbooks tend to be a way to make money off fans of the respective games, compared to artbooks that span an artist’s career. Still, there’s a lot of background information of Shining Tears, plus the interviews, so this could be absorbing if you can read Japanese.
Personally, I’m not that big of a Tony fan. His characters edge too close to the cliché for my tastes and the female-to-male ratio is rather unbalanced. However, I can see how his style can be appealing to the senses, given his aesthetically pleasing females. With that said, I find it hard to recommend Shining Tears – Collection of Visual Materials. If you’re a fan of the Shining Force series, chances are you won’t take a liking to Shining Tears and Tony’s art, as charming as it is, probably won’t sway you to buy the artbook. The same applies to anyone who’s simply looking for some fine art; Visual Materials isn’t worth the bother. Now, if you already are a fan of Tony, then by all means, get this. A glossy gallery, interviews, sketches; all wonderful. Just keep in mind that only half of it is actual art, which can be a sore spot for those wanting more.
Lavie Rhap is a freelance writer who contributes to a number of sites and zines using multiple pseudonyms. When not undertaking research, she enjoys reading classical texts and being the moral compass of the Thousand Rabbits.
Kawaii Pattycakes is a self-admitted otaku with interest only in Asiatic culture. Every cent she earns is put into funding her hobby; it is only through intense efforts of prettyprophet does she experience the rest of the world.
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