Title: DISGAEArt!!! Disgaea Official Illustration Collection
Publisher: Udon Entertainment
Artist: Takehito Harada among others
Series: Disgaea 1: Hour of Darkness, Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories, Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice and Disgiaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten
Release Date: Available Now
Special Thanks: Udon Entertainment for providing me with a review copy of this title to cover.
Primarily featuring the artwork of Takehito Harada, character designer for the Disgaea series, DISGAEArt!!! collects concept art, cutscenes, and an assortment of illustrations from the Disgaea universe, allowing fans to track the development of beloved characters from 2003’s Disgaea: Hour of Darkness all the way to 2011’s Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten. The collection then goes even further, revealing rare materials from the entire world of Disgaea, including artwork from novels, soundtracks, manga, DVD packaging, telephone cards, and even more – you’ll have to see it to believe it! An extensive index wraps up this collection, pointing out where every illustration made its original appearance!
Thanks to the team at Udon Entertainment, I was fortunately able to get my hands on a copy of DISGAEArt!!!, an official Disgaea series illustration collection which they released just last week and covers all four major Disgaea games currently available on the market today. Out of all the games I have played, the Disgaea series is the one I spent the most time in collecting, due to its initial Playstation 2 release being near impossible to find on store shelves post release in Australia, taking me at least a year to find a single pre-owned copy of (Then a short while after the announcement of a PSP and NDS release). The contents of this book are unlike the previous two I have reviewed which were Design Compendiums more than art books alone, however the review structure of “Content”, “Layout”, “Extras”, and “Personal Opinion” will not differ.
But when push comes to shove, the Disgaea series has always been about presenting a light hearted, fourth-wall breaking, comical storyline while at the same time delivering gameplay which offers potentially hundreds of hours of SRPG gameplay mixed in with a number of attempts at further challenging gamers post-game and enticing you to replay again. With all that in mind… how does this artbook go at encompassing the artwork that we may or may not have seen in these four games? Read on to find out….
As I mentioned above, the book is split up into the four major Disgaea games – each with their own individual chapter alongside a fifth which encompasses things such as character crossovers or other bits and pieces which would not warrant being labelled under one category or another (Examples including the appearance of Raspberyl with Flonne or Mao and Laharl – who were all main characters but of different games). The book does come with a vast array of content from artwork used in the games covers, soundtrack slips and even more promotional-related items including phone cards and greeting cards. Udon Entertainment promote around 600 illustrations from across the Disgaea series and you do get quite a lot of content for the one book – from full-page artwork to smaller pieces that encompass half a page or even just a tiny section of one.
The artwork is of good quality and as we don’t usually have the luxury of checking out all the promotional goods outside of Japan, it is a great opportunity to see just how much external artwork is produced (Primarily by Takehito Harada) that is not showcased in the game. Artwork from the games are included in the book, including artwork used occasionally in cutscenes, character artwork used when performing a combo attack and artwork which appears on level complete screens and so forth. However, this is not a Design Compendium like the two previous artbooks I have reviewed – therefore there is hint of concept art, character portrait artwork or sprite artwork which may or may not be disappointing to you… this is a book of finalized work that has been unannotated with the exception of a few translations of Japanese script appearing in the smaller images.
In addition, while they do throw in artwork of characters from some of the side games including the cast of Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero?, Makai Kingdom and Phantom Brave – these are not the focus and does not seem to encompass everything from these series. I believe there are artbooks released in Japan for Phantom Brave and Makai Kingdom and I hope that (Unless I have completely missed their release) that Udon Entertainment consider them for future releases. But overall, while there isn’t much content which will inform the reader about the game or its secret little bits and pieces…. the book is certainly filled with images that will appeal to a fans eyes.
I suppose when you are dealing with just artwork, there does not leave much room for imagination unlike more wordier books of this type which require equal proportions of explanation and imagery. That being said… a majority of the pages were just plain white with a large image or several smaller ones added to them alongside the left of the left page which counted down the chapters and describing what game these pages represented. There were a few alterations when it came to separating the chapters – for which they ended with a few black pages featuring combo attack artwork for every character in the game and a separate page where they included full character artwork for the proceeding games particular main characters, which was a simple but nice touch.
I have no problems about the layout of this book… it might be a bit plain however it acted to reinforce the main draw of the book… its artwork. And that is sure did!
When it comes to extras in this release, the main draw would be the two of the final pages where they provide an index of the artwork included on each of the pages. The descriptions are simple and if you have purchased this for just the artwork it might not be that big a draw… but it is always a nice touch knowing if a piece of artwork is a Disgaea 3 Sofmap Bonus Telephone Card or a Nippon Ichi Software 2003 Summer Greeting Card. Unfortunately where this Index does hit a snag is that while Takehito Harada produced a considerable portion of the artwork, it would have been nice to know what other artists were involved in each particular piece of artwork.
As usual, the value of this book would depend greatly upon your liking of the game series. As a fan of Nippon Ichi’s Disgaea series and having spent so long to collect every game which could be classed as part of the series… I thought this was a great artbook with a nice lot of artwork… some of which you would have seen playing the games and some you may not have seen before. The only way this could have been improved perhaps is a greater inclusion of the side-games which have been released in-between major installments, but this is a minor issue to me.
Personal Opinion: B+
Overall Score: B