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Title:
  The Art of Laputa

Distributor:  Animage

Artist:  Hayao Miyazaki

Suggested Retail Price (SRP):  2650 (approx. 16)

Number of Pages:  196

ISBN:  4-1981-6610-2

Reviewed:  21st September 2006

Reviewer:  Rich (Webmaster)

 

Pretty much every anime these days has an artbook or three dedicated to it, and quality often varies.  However, if there's one studio that always turns out high quality merchandise it's Studio Ghibli, and this artbook certainly lives up to their reputation.


At just over A4 size and weighing in at a hefty 196 pages, you certainly know you are getting your money's worth!  One of the universally stunning Studio Ghibli 'The Art of' series, The Art of Laputa is packed with production sketches, watercolour storyboards, film stills and beautiful background art.  The images are presented chronologically with sequences of film stills augmented by the production art and storyboards that inspired them.  Early character designs and surprisingly detailed watercolour sketches are scattered liberally

throughout, and there are many large pictures of the truly stunning backgrounds to pore over as well.  As artbooks go it's got a huge amount of images in it, and it looks special too - especially the classy slipcover and glossy pages.

The printing quality and the quality of the paper is simply exceptional, and all but the final 26 pages are presented in beautiful full colour.  There are hundreds of images in this book and it is so intriguing to see the comparison between Miyazaki's sketches and the finished article.  You get a sense of how his ideas developed through the pictures, and the influence of his visit to rural Wales shines through in the stunning landscapes and labyrinth of mine workings the the film plays out against.  Miyazaki's films have always been masterworks of imagination and experience and this is superbly highlighted in this book.  The text that peppers the space between the images no doubt tells you more about them, so it is a shame that it's in Japanese, although I can hardly expect anything else from a Japanese book!
 

The Japanese test is a bit of a shame from a Western point of view as it feels like you aren't getting the whole book.  The text would have made interesting reading, as small illustrations within it suggest that it focused on how images were constructed and techniques used.  Without it the images sometimes lack a little context and it is a bit of a let down that many of them are pretty small.  Because of the size of the images they rarely fill an entire page and although the blank space does frame them nicely I would have preferred to see some of the art given the space it deserves.  I would

especially like to have seen more of the stunning background art presented as full page spreads, the ones that are look amazing and not using more seems like a missed opportunity.

This said, the sheer volume of art more than outweighs these annoyances and it is clear how much care and effort went not only into the film but also into this artbook.  The quality is near unrivalled and the size of it gives great value for money.  What the book does brilliantly is provide a background to the design of the film, giving signs of what might of been and showing the development of the characters and settings.  You buy these books for the artwork and whilst the lack of an English release (at the time of writing) is an annoyance, it is a bearable one.  The Art of Laputa is a great book and a superb addition to anyone's collection.

Extras:

A beautiful, textured slipcover hides a rather plain, uninspiring real cover and the images are joined by a lengthy introduction in Japanese.  Also included is a shorter, badly translated intro in English - 'THIS IS A GRAND SKALE ADVENTURE FANTASY FULL OF SUSPENSE AND EXCITMENT' and, presumably, no proof readers.  Numerous bits of text (in Japanese, thankfully, if the intro is anything to go by) pop up on nearly every page and the final 26 pages, which are printed on low quality paper, appear to contain the script, film credits and ending theme lyrics.  Again, all of this is in Japanese, so the extras in this book would be superb - if you could read them.  When an English translation comes out, bump the Extras mark up to 5.

Ratings

Product:   Extras:
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