Oh, Star Ocean: Anamnesis, how we hardly knew you. After a couple of years available on the Japanese iOS and Android app stores, Square Enix opted to bring tri-Ace’s gacha-game smartphone instalment in the Star Ocean series to western audiences. This was in July 2018. After little more than a year, they pulled the plug on the western version, with a year of progression lost to the void and a Star Ocean tale which will remain untold in English.
While not privy to the reasons why the app was discontinued, I would argue from my perspective that despite offering fantastic character designs/models and a reasonably in-depth battle system, its niche appeal compared to other more popular games and overall cost for in-game currency limited its reach. Of course, without access to a working app, there is no way to enjoy the character artwork now without accessing the Japanese version… or is there?
With the Japanese version still going strong, Square Enix last year published Star Ocean: Anamnesis Official Art Works in Japan, a 271-page compendium following in the style of many similar artbooks offered for other gacha titles. With an emphasis on finalised artwork over the process behind creating them, this book features whole-page looks at each of the characters you could unlock through the gacha. This includes characters from each of the five Star Ocean games (I, II, III: Till the End of Time, The Last Hope and Integrity and Faithlessness), several characters who appeared as crossover characters from IPs such as Resonance of Fate and Nier: Automata, special event designs and NPCs.
A majority of the Star Ocean cast across all five major titles are featured in the book, unsurprisingly given this is first and foremost a crossover game. However, there are a few noticeable exceptions from the character list of the first four. For some such as Peppita this is because their characters were only released after this book went on sale. On the other hand, others such as Adray and Roger haven’t appeared in Star Ocean: Anamnesis to date. Nevertheless, each full-page character artwork is complemented by a small amount of information including simple details (Name, Date of Birth, Age) and more in-depth information (voice actor, artist, character profile etc.). It is nice to have given later on in the book you will encounter new characters to SO:A which new players might not be familiar with.
Yet, I am just a little miffed that information about the design of a character or even an artists note is not included with each character. That said, if you like looking at the pretty artwork of each character, then you do have plenty of lovely designs to look at. I cannot understate that enough. Like most gacha games which focus on the acquisition of characters, there is hardly a piece of lousy artwork among the pages. After all, if you are spending dozens of dollars for the chance to unlock a character, you want them looking good.
For those who are after more of an in-depth look at Star Ocean: Anamnesis, the final 1/5th of this book focuses on character concepts and sketches with artist details, a look at environment assets used in-game and a few other bits and pieces. There are a few pages of this dedicated to each of the five main title, with the majority focused on Anamnesis itself. While they don’t have nearly enough of this for my liking, I do appreciate their inclusion at the very least. I say this despite this book only being in Japanese, with no English version planned to date.
Star Ocean: Anamnesis Official Art Works is a softcover, A4 size artbook. I personally have no qualms with the build quality of my copy after several months on my shelf. In terms of what is contained within its pages and the direction being taken, they make full use of each page by delivering the highest quality character design without any attempts to cram 3-4 on each. I also appreciate how they segment each chapter into sub-chapters based on each source game, or if not, whether they are a crossover or event character. Small decisions like that made this book very easy to navigate.
If you are someone who enjoyed the game and want a record of all the artwork, then the content alone may be enough to help justify a purchase of this book. Especially if you are like me and your luck at pulling SSR’s in gacha games are terrible, this is the best way of enjoying the artwork at arguably a cost cheaper than it would be to pull them in-game at the lower resolution. That really is the one main reason to buy this book in my opinion as there is little in the way of promotional artwork that you would be hard-pressed to find somewhere else online.
out of 10
How to Buy Star Ocean: Anamnesis Official Art Works
Interested in picking up Star Ocean: Anamnesis Official Art Works? There are a number of online retailers which still have stock available and can order you in a copy. One such store is Play-Asia, which still has it listed for ¥4,330. However, please look around at your favourite stores for the best deals, shipping costs and any bonuses you may receive by ordering through them.