Affordable, accessible, pretty and well designed. A great answer to the higher cost of the Ufotable Deluxe artbooks.
I’m not sure I can pin down my feelings on this book: the production quality is excellent and I love Koyoharu Gotouge’s art, but it doesn’t blow me away as much as other art books I've seen. It feels as if something is missing, and I can’t quite place what. In the end, the $25 price point made it accessible, and I’m a little less concerned about the nagging feeling of an impending yawn.
The 2021 artbook for Koyoharu Gotoge’s Kimetsu no Yaiba is a 160 page, A4 soft cover with a delightfully textured jacket. I love this size for an art book, and it feels right as a soft cover, hard back would have been overkill. As with Iroiro, this was a Japanese release so I have no idea what was said in the text, but most of the artwork is very similar so, I find it hard to believe we are missing groundbreaking information: Not a deal breaker.
Hat’s off to whoever designed this book, it’s my favorite so far in concept, layout and design. The details are subtle but contribute to the overall beauty, I think I like the book itself more than it's content, they really did a stellar job. Don't get me wrong, I love Demon Slayer; however , the illustration collection presented here is, like the manga, fine...it's fine.
Don't give up
Koyoharu Gotōge ,born May 5, 1989, is a Japanese mangaka and the author of Kimetsu no Yaiba. Gotoge uses an alligator that wears glasses as their avatar .
At the age of 24, she participated in the 70th Jump Treasure Newcomer Manga Awards in 2013 with the work Kagarigari. Three more one-shots followed: Monju Shirō Kyōda,Rokkotsu-san, in 2014 and Haeniwa no Zigzag in 2015. After they all failed to achieve serialization her editor suggested trying a series with an easy to understand theme.
in 2016, Gotoge started their first serialization with Kimetsu no Yaiba in WSJ 2016-11 issue. Kimetsu no Yaiba is a Demon-slaying manga loosely based on their first work Kagarigari. The series ended at 205 chapters on May 17th 2020 in issue 2020-24.
Analogue for once
I love seeing Copic art, but the black and white pages in the back are probably my favorite. The backgrounds are gorgeous, the characters feel so alive and dynamic, It was a great surprise the first time through. The spread of the Hashirima is by far my favorite: If it had been the obligatory art-book poster, I would have torn that puppy out immediately!
Most of this book is made up of white page, Copic character art and I enjoy looking close at the texture of traditionally drawn artwork. It may seem like an odd detail but when looking closer I began noticing her use of white ink and how it interacts with the paper, Copic and Sumi ink; It makes my art heart flutter.
Unfortunately there is a distinct lack of spread illustrations with backgrounds or deep detail, but, the art is delightful and I appreciated the inclusion of black and white illustrations. There is a hint of background art in these, and somehow more life in the composition; maybe she's just more comfortable in grayscale than color.
Character design focused
Without the backgrounds as a distraction, this artbook focuses on character design, which is played pretty straight, sticking mostly to their main look. Naturally Tanjiro, Nezuko and crew appear quite frequently, but the editor managed to include artwork of quite possibly everyone: The Demon Slayer Corps, demons, Muzan, and even the twelve Kizuki. As I mentioned, the majority of the artwork focuses on their distinctive haori and kimono with little to no costume changes. Many artists use colored illustrations as a chance to play with their characters; changing up their clothing, props and scenery. I would have loved to see more of that, but the illustrations used are mostly cover art, and I guess there's something to be said for clear, consistent branding.
The colored manga pages offer a little break from the green and black checkered wall. I appreciate the variety of color she uses, and the colors she choses to use together: Bright pink with bright green, magenta and orange, all are really vibrant and striking. I would have loved to see them showcased in full, but alas, they are shoehorned in; four to page, and given less than three spreads of space, before returning right back to the standard checkerboard and hemp patterns. Later in the book large color art is rotated out with line art, mini cartoons and doodles. Finally it looks like Gotoge is having as much fun as the characters, whose kindness and warmth contributes greatly to the overall charm of her work.
I turned to the artist comments in hopes of getting some insight into Kotaro Gotoge's artistic choices, unfortunately for me, I can't read Japanese so I tried using my phone to translate. It failed so fantastically I almost had an aneurism and am no more informed than before.
Should I buy ?
Demon slayer was quite a phenomenon and took the world by storm, mostly thanks to the stunning anime by Ufotable. The main draw of this story is the cute and fun characters who are beautifully and constantly showcased in this well designed book. It is decent and affordable collection of art from the manga series. If you are a fan, even of just manga in general, this would be a good choice for your collection. Due to a meteoric rise in popularity it has carved itself a place in manga history, and, if you enjoy it, deserves a place on your manga artbook shelf. You won't be blown away by this KNY art collection but I think it's a nice, good quality book and was definitely a feel good bright spot in 2021 when it was released.