The holiday blitz continues, as does Japanator's blitz of holiday shopping advice! After telling you which videogames and anime to buy for you and yours, today we're getting all "old-fashioned" by making recommendations for (gasp!) print media!
Of course you could probably get most of your books in some sort of electronic format, the better for storage and portability and making use of your computer-machines, but some books are special. Like the ones Jeff and I are going to tell you about below!
Jeff Chuang suggests:
For people who love heavy-looking bookshelf stuffers...
Nausicaä Valley of the Wind Box Set
If you know your manga, you probably know that master animator Hayao Miyazaki penned a manga series for Nausicaä, whose first couple volumes reflects the content of the similarly named film that adopted the manga. Miyazaki continued the Nausicaä manga sporadically until it ended in 1994, to a total of 7 volumes. Viz has released a localized version of the manga over the years but that went out of print some time ago. Now, Nausicaä has returned as two really big and heavy collections of the entire series, with an accompanying box.
I have it. It literally weights like a brick. And it looks quite impressive on your bookshelves. This collection that Viz released back in early November is selling like hot cakes. If you weren't lucky enough to pick one up before Black Friday, you can still try your luck at various online retailers like RightStuf or among the marketplace vendors for larger storefronts. Be assured that this is one impressive and awesome Christmas present for a lucky manga collector.
For people who love big and hefty companions...
Queen's Blade Perfect Visual Collection
There's no beating around the bush with this one: it's a heavy, hard cover collection of some of Queen's Blade's most popular visual artwork. In short, this is a book with pretty girls armed with large boobies. Well, it's classier than that--the artbook leads in with a series of tribute artwork from various illustrators, and breaks into promotional artwork for the anime and the franchise in general. The last part of the artbook dives into the characters themselves and is a fairly comprehensive list of all the primary Queen's Blade personas, and it's not unlike what you'll find towards the end of an RPG manual.
I never really expected Vertical to release something like this--I guess there's just no limit to the type of things they release. But at the very least, expect Vertical's usual quality on this release; it's 192 pages, full-color on good paper stock, and did I say boobies? There aren't all that many new translated artbooks released in any given year, so that makes this one even more outstanding--as long as Queen's Blade is the thing you're going for.
Josh Tolentino suggests:
For the Persona fan who wonders what Teddie could have looked like...
Persona 4 Official Design Works
If there's one thing that's as interesting as playing an awesome videogame, it's learning more about how such an awesome game was made, particularly at that prettiest of phases in a game's gestation, the concept art phase. Persona 4 Official Design Works collects all that visual splendor into a thick, beautiful book, along with designer's notes, marketing and promo material, and an interview with art director Shigenori Soejima, all of it translated into English by Udon Books (who also localized Persona 3 Official Design Works).
In the depths of the concept art you'll find all manner of trivia pertaining to Persona 4's visual growth. Things like Yukiko's original hipster haircut, a vision of Chie as Yukiko, Kanji in his original Elvis-impersonator motif, and the nightmare fuel that was Teddie's original character design.
Sadly, the book doesn't cover the new artwork from Persona 4 Golden (it was originally published back in '08), but there's definitely enough material to gain insight into the game's inimitable sense of style.
For the true Valkyria Chronicles patriots who joined The Gallian Liberation Front...
Even compared with other Japanese game art books, the official art books for the Valkyria Chronicles have always gone above and beyond the call of duty (like true Gallians, one might say!). Always hefty and engrossing from cover to cover, they've been crammed to bursting with content, practically playing a triple role of art book, gameplay guide, and lore bible. In my estimation it's been these books that have shown off how detailed and rich the world of Valkyria Chronicles is best, more than any anime adaptation, side-story OVA, or manga has so far.
That was true of the first Valkyria Chronicles art book, and it's true of Udon's localization of World Artworks, the book for Valkyria Chronicles 2, the PSP sequel. It's almost as thick and holds up to the same high standard as the original, packed with sweet artwork from character designer Raita Honjou as well as the game's intricate mechanical designs. Character, gameplay and story notes also abound for the game and its divisive military-high-school take on the Valkyria Chronicles setting.
Also worth noting is Udon's upcoming release (set for later in December) of the art book for Valkyria Chronicles 3. Yes, Valkyria Chronicles 3, the game for which the Gallian Liberation Front tried in vain to pull an "Operation Rainfall", only for their cries to fall on Sega's cash-strapped ears. Frankly speaking, this book may be the closest western gamers will ever get to having Valkyria Chronicles 3 in English (barring certain legally gray efforts). That alone makes it worth a look for any proper Gallian.