Awesome book. Period.
Even if you’re some weirdo who isn’t into comics or manga, this is still great. Much like nearly every other Taschen book I’ve seen, regardless of my interest to its subject matter, the final product often embarrasses other books within the same category. Also like many other Taschen titles, this book is written in more than one language, two of which are English and Japanese.
Though I wish the samples of work from each individual mangaka (manga writers and illustrators) were translated into English, I can understand and respect the editor’s choice to remain faithful to the original work and publish the manga and covers as they originally appeared.
The icing on this researched and well-thought out cake is the DVD included with it. In addition to interviews with a few mangaka, there’s a gallery of hundreds of manga covers and interviews with employees of various manga retailers as well as footage of the insides of the stores themselves. It seems like it’s a whole different vibe than a major book retailer in the U.S., probably because each manga bookstore is crammed floor to ceiling with comics. Sure I wish there was more on the DVD, and in the book too, but the overview that this book provides is the best attempt at an encyclopedic, reference style book on manga I’ve seen thus far.
Just to give you a few examples of why this is more than just a coffee table book, click on the thumbnails below. Also, keep in mind that the table of contents is only a portion of all the mangaka covered. The fingerprints of each mangaka’s own individual style when compared to other artists and considered in the grand scheme of art and manga as a whole is considerably interesting.
If there’s any book out there that can obliterate people’s misguided preconceptions of what manga is and can be, it’s this one.
If you’re already familiar with Super7, then you either already have this or want this really, really bad but you’re too much of a cheapskate to shell out the bread to call it your own. If you have no idea who or what the fuck Super7 is, here’s an abridged introduction: these maniacs have a rabid affinity for soft vinyl toys and toys in general that are weird/cool looking and/or are impossible to find. The Super7 team also has friends that are equally enamored with collecting. So enamored that I’m willing to bet that anyone featured in this book has treasure chests full of insanity that would put to shame any hipster’s paltry Dunny “collection.”
I really don’t know where to start with this one…as it would be an understatement to say that Nobuyoshi Araki is in his own world in which photography is at the center. I can’t say that I know much of anything about Araki, though I can say I was near overwhelmed at the astonishing amount of Araki’s work that manages to find its way within this book of monolithic proportions.
(shown with a rear view of the slipcase)
Flowers, street photography, a smattering of experimental photography, photos of his cat and photos that chronicle his life are what make up this enormous collection of Araki’s work. Oh, and page after page after page of photos of women. Highly questionable, pornographically outlandish photos of women. Tons of them. This is what makes this write up so hard. Sure the other stuff is good; it’s honest, charming and his flowers are swarming with color. Though most are nowhere near the intensity and impact of the nude and nearly nude photographs that singe your brain. It’s pretty hard to forget the numerous photos of women, each barely wearing a kimono, being suspended from the ceiling with nothing but rope. It’s my opinion that simply writing these off as pornographic and nothing but would be misinterpreting them. I’m at a loss for words when it comes to trying to understand just what Araki is trying to communicate with such photos or even the very idea, though I suppose that’s why they’re so interesting. At the risk of dealing with crybabies, I’ve chosen not to upload any of these photos. I mean no offense to Araki himself, but that’s not something that I have the time to come under fire for.
I’ll let you be the judge of such artistic entanglements on your own time…
Your local bookstore or library should have something similar to this book if not this very book itself, but if worse comes to worse, you can order it here.