I am always out to look for something new to add to The Otaku’s Study, and last year saw me begin to review English localized artbooks that you can easily pick off the shelf in specialty stores kudos of publishers such as Udon Entertainment. However with the market still being quite small, I chose to this year begin reviewing a handful of original Japanese artbooks – and aim at having a couple more out in the next couple of weeks.
Given that I have currently only reviewed one that could be considered released in 2013 so far, I have instead decided to pool the reviews together and determine what has been my favorite artbook that has been reviewed this year. This winner surprisingly enough proved to be Himitsu no Kin’iro Mosaic which was the only artbook I have reviewed that was printed in 2013. This book was not based on the recent anime adaptation made by Studio Gokumi but rather the original Kin’iro Mosaic (Kinmoza!) manga series written and illustrated by Yui Hara.
This softcover book is nothing but 128 pages of cuteness, split up into three chapters and several more segments with different seasonal and outfit themes, and no attempts to fanservice things up. Yui Hara provides exceptionally well drawn artwork and an additional plentiful supply of concept artwork. There are even a few crossover characters from other manga series that make an appearance in some of the art. Most of all, it has to some degree bridged the gap between the airing of the first anime episode and when Sentai FIlmworks finally decide to release the series in North America.
There is currently no review of the full anime series on The Otaku’s Study as of this post – but I aim to have one up shortly after its release. Even without watching the full anime series, I can happily say that Himitsu no Kin’iro Mosaic is one of the most charming artbooks I currently have in my collection, and is well deserving of “The Otaku’s Study Reviewed Japanese Artbook of the Year 2013” award.
As I had a couple of Japanese artbooks receiving an A-tier grade over this last year, I have decided to give a runner-up award to Bottle Fairy Funbook: Tokumi Yuiko Illustrations. This book took almost the complete opposite approach to their artwork which highlighted just how much creativity Tokumi Yuiko had while working with the characters in this cute and all-ages friendly anime franchise.
While the Kin’iro Mosaic artbook provided mostly full-page artwork and was rather conservative in the presented themes, the Bottle Fairy Funbook provided 120 pages filled to the brim with artwork of the fairies (Kururu, Chiriri, Sarara, Hororo and the artbook exclusive Rere) with a vast assortment of themes and costumes in addition to a bonus 24-pages filled to the brim with artwork featuring one of the two human characters in the series Tama-chan.
Unfortunately while there was quantity, with so many pieces of artwork reduced to only a section of the page it was not possible to fully appreciate every inch of the artwork like you were able to with Himitsu no Kin’iro Mosaic. That’s why Bottle Fairy Funbook has only walked away with runner-up.