The Groundwork of FLCL

Distributor:  Gainax

Artist:  Gainax / Yoshiyuki Sadamoto

Suggested Retail Price (SRP):  3000 (approx. 15)

Number of Pages:  224

ISBN-10:  N/A

SKU:  4-984841-016603

Reviewer:  Rich (Webmaster)


With the anime of FLCL currently being released by MVM, it seems like a good time to check out one of the art books available for the series!

Groundwork of FLCL is another entry in Gainax's 'Groundwork' art book series, and like the previous ones the focus is very much on the creative process behind the anime.  The book is A4 sized, and like most Japanese books is read from right to left. 

This book really is a bit of a mix.  To start with it's the full-on glossy colour art book you hope for.  The first nine pages are full-page colour promotional art from designer Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, and the following fourteen pages feature anime art, with one side of each double page spread showing the original pencil sketch and the other the finished colour image.  The quality of the images is great and the artwork - particularly on the promo images - is superb.  It's also interesting to see how the anime art is constructed, with various sketches drawn separately and brought together for the final image.  If the rest of the art book was like this it would be the easiest book to recommend, but unfortunately it isn't.  After these first 20-odd pages the colour artwork is ejected in favour of the monochrome sketched storyboards for the anime.

 Books like this are always hard to review, as whether you want to flick through reams of sketches of varying detail and quality depends on how interested you are in the actual animation process.  It also depends on if you have seen the entire anime, as the sketches show the entire story from start to finish and, although there's no dialogue and not all of the storyboard is shown, it does give away some of the major plot twists.  As mentioned the sketches vary in quality and complexity, with some showing just a vague outline whilst others show detailed characters.  The backgrounds are rarely drawn in and most of the images are quite small, with about 15 to a page in places.  However, on the plus side it does have some larger sketches scattered throughout, including close-up studies of the characters and robots.  It also has detailed drawings of the manga pages that are used in parts of the anime, which is interesting as they fly past so quickly in the series that it's difficult to appreciate the art.

The storyboard section does give a decent insight into how some scenes are created and how the animators plan an anime.  However, it could really do with some explanations at points.  There are a scant few notes dotted

around in Japanese that don't really tell you anything, so interesting though the images are, you aren't really left with a real understanding of the creative process.  In places the images lack context, and it would have been interesting if some of the background art could have been included or some kind of interview with the people behind the series.

 Another gripe is that the paper quality is far lower for the storyboard section, as is the printing quality.  It feels lazy to be honest, like someone's taken the animators notes, photocopied them and stuck them in a book with some nice pretty pictures at the front.  Although there are some interesting things to be gleaned from it, a more focused look at the process with some comments from the people involved would have been more informative and interesting.  It goes without saying that fans of FLCL will probably buy this no matter what, but for art book collectors and other anime fans there's better out there.


There's the usual flycover and publishers info, and a couple of bonus sketches (one at the en of the anime art section and one on the publisher info page).  There's also an advert for the Gainax Supporters Club, which considering the book was published in 2001 is probably well out-of-date.  However, there is a bonus 5-page monochrome illustration gallery tucked away at the end of all the storyboards, containing nine drawings of the main characters by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto.  Not bad.


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