Artbook Check! II: Da Capo / Cardcaptor Sakura

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It's been a while since my last - not to mention only - artbook post, not in the least because I don't do much purchasing of obscure anime goods; somehow, my sense of reason has managed to continue outstripping the little anime fan in my head that screams "moeeeeee~" at every figurine, pencil board, and plushie that I see.

This may be a result of the fact that these novelty goods are, to be subtle, ridiculously expensive at times. Probably mostly because I'm a student on an overly cheap budget, first and foremost, but secondly because, well, I don't see what you can do with a figurine outside of taking pictures of it, playing Smash Bros. with it, or making disturbing 4chan gifs with it.

Artbooks, though, have been a fondness of mine, if only because they tend to give some semblance of value to me - after all, you can browse them over and over, they have lots of pretty pictures, and if I ever actually manage to learn Japanese they might just be good reading material.

Additionally, I've recently become figuratively married to a little bookstore chain in southern California called Book Off, which offers a lot of new and used books (of which I can hardly tell the difference), ranging from standard English novels, to manga in both languages, to magazines, and - as you may have guessed - quite a few anime artbooks. Depending on the chain, you might even find some DVDs of both regions (spotted some Japanese Shuffle! LEs and AIR and Tsukihime boxsets), or import video games.And all at great prices too - my previous purchase of the Shuffle! On the Stage artbook was half the price I saw at Kinokuniya. Good stuff.

Unfortunately however I am not getting paid royalty fees for this post so I'll move on to the two latest artbooks I added to my meager collection, and that would be that of Cardcaptor Sakura and Da Capo.

(Note this post actually has pictures, so those of you stuck under a 56K rock still, look out. And for those wondering about the camera work, well, let's say my house was undergoing a small earthquake during the five minutes I was filming. Or maybe my camera hand was drunk. Maybe you need glasses. Or maybe it was a rush job and I was using a borrowed camera.)

Actually, both of these shows, being the monoliths they are, span multiple artbooks, but resources afforded only a small peek at the rabbit hole.

First up, the Cardcaptor Sakura artbook was a veritable steal at $4, half off of its normal price (although the other ones were normal price, mysteriously). The artbooks look to be split up into the show's respective sections, with one covering the Clow Card arc and one covering the Sakura Card arc. There was an additional one for the second movie, The Sealed Card, and presumably one for the first one as well, which I didn't spot.

The one I picked up was the Sakura Card artbook, which handily says on the back in English, "The Complete Book of TV Animation 'Cardcaptor Sakura' Part 2", so I'll take that as the title for it.

It's a pretty comprehensive artbook as well, with an episode overview of each episode of the Sakura Card arc, from 47-70, in the "story digest" section taking up about half of the 120-page book. Each episode summary spans two pages, the front of one and the back of the other, featuring about 20 commented screencaps from the show with a long paragraph below it. It seems to be pretty in-depth, although, since I'm illiterate outside of spotting Sakura's name, all I can really say is that the pictures are a great throwback and that chibi Sakura is incredibly adorable.

There are additional screencap segments for the third-season OP/ED, Platinum and Fruits Candy, with lyrics. Later on in the book there is an interesting segment which displays some of the storyboard planning behind the two sequences, as well.

What follows in the second section is the traditional black-and-white character sketches, featuring six pages of Sakura costumes (Tomoyo's busy, y'know.), and a page devoted to all the other main characters (Tomoyo, Syaoran, Meilin, Eriol, etc), with the remaining few pages in this section devoted to background scenery and side characters, and the aforementioned storyboarding. It's cute and heavily commented stuff but the black-and-white sketches have never really been a main draw for me.

Likewise with the cast interview segments, which are almost entirely if not completely illegible, although I did learn interesting things, like how just about bloody everyone in CCS is voiced by a girl. Yukito I figured, Kero I remembered (since her VA did Haruko from AIR), but I didn't figure on Syaoran. Touya and Eriol are the only guys from the main cast.

Also, there was more liberal sprinkling of chibi characters here (although admittedly sourced from the orginal animation), which was always a plus. The interviews give two pages at least to all main characters, and half a page to a lot of 'side' characters, right down to Nakuru / Ruby Moon and Fujitaka. Even the directors (I assume) get interviewed.

This about wraps up the content in the book, outside of the advertising for other CCS stuff, such as the Tetris spin-off which heads the 'games I irrationally want' list, and the 18 DVDs - or, if you're feeling retro, videotapes (this is circa 2000, after all), at a cheap 6800 yen. No worries - the first volume is a wallet-sipping 5000 yen. Almost makes the remastered set look cheap.

Extras are sparse but there, as the book includes two postcards (which I can't imagine that anyone would actually use) and a small poster (bigger than standard paper but smaller than a Megami pullout) featuring a shocked-looking Sakura against a black backdrop with Eriol and his minions in the background. Overall, CCS The Complete TV Animation Pt. 2 is still a steal at $4, and would still probably be worth it at it's standard $8 - especially since it's listed at 1500 yen on the back of the book.

My second purchase is what can only be described as the Da Capo Box, as that's pretty much when I went on when buying it. It was shrink-wrapped, so it was pretty much a prayer purchase. It was formally called "D.C. Collaboration Stories", and the fact that it was big, thick, and didn't look to be H seemed to make it a good deal for $13. And while I may not be doing backflips like more striped Da Capo fans might upon such a steal, I still consider it a fairly reasonable purchase.

It's a three-part set, which would explain why it comes in a box, for one. The first part, and the most important, naturally, is the flipping huge book. It's 300 Spartaaaaaaaan pages long (that joke stopped being abused fast, as an aside). That's a lot.

It opens promisingly - once I figured out that it read right to left - with a bunch of stunning fanart by what I can only assume are other famous artists. I say this because I recgonize the Shuffle style of Aoi Nishimata. There are 9 full-page (and note that a page here, as opposed to CCS's A4 size, is roughly 8.5" by 12") illustrations, most of them worthy of being pulled out and pinned to the wall, if that's your sort of thing.

What follows is a roughly 100-page collection of a bunch of manga stories drawn by different artists. Each is about 10-20 pages, and what I could glisten from the pictures they span:

- Magical costume dress-up Sakura
- Some flashback involving loli Sakura and Junichi, plus Miharu

- Nemu being typically clingy tsundere after Junichi runs around with some large meganekko in what can only be a giant misunderstanding
- Something involving Kotori, which should be enough for her fans

- Something involving Moe, which gives her more development than two seasons of anime despite me not being able to read Japanese
- Miharu x Junichi adventures
- Something involving Suginami, Mako, and a possible pairing of the two. Second only to Mayumi and Itsuki in 'best comedy duo that needs romance'.
- Nemu reminscing about Junichi and their amusement park trips in the past and present
- NekoNemu. No one knows why.

Plus a few 4koma.

It's a pretty lame collection because there's no Yoriko vast range of manga by a bunch of people with different art styles, and since they give time to nearly everyone except Yoriko, fans of Da Capo who don't mind Yoriko getting the shaft, especially those who can read Japanese, will enjoy this segment unless they have any pity for Yoriko.

(Well, she did get one 4koma.)

What follows after this is the game CG collection with 100% more Yoriko, which is always a fun read (and by read I mean look) for people like me who are wholly unfamiliar with the original source game. I lucked out in that this section is entirely non-ero; it barely misses work-safe due to containing the 'pre ero-scene' CGs where the heroines are in a state of vague undress.

Each character has their own section here averaging from 5 to 10 pages. Each section includes a large character portrait, a list of character sprites (interestingly, Kotori has more than double anyone else's at nearly 70 poses, while most have 30-odd), and the game CGs at about quarter-page size. Of course, everything is annotated by a bunch of flavor text which I'm sure says...something.

It's informative since you can glean a lot from the images (such as Yoriko's ending, which apparently involves either her or Misaki coming to school as a real girl), and, failing that, you can roll on the floor and/or agonize over why there's a CG of Suginami in a half-naked maid outfit.

After this, there's about 20 pages of straight text, interrupted by scarce CGs; I'm assuming this is a sort of mini-story of its own; it's titled "Another Story", and each character gets their own section. I'm not sure if this is just copy-paste from the game(s), or original content, but either way, reading material right here.

Then there's few short sections, one being a walkthrough for each of the characters, another being a corner for fanart (of the postcard kind), the third being the 'buy stuff please' segment, (Note they sell shirts for every character but Yoriko.) , and the final segment closes off the book with some sheet music for what I presume are the game OP and ED themes.

Additionally, there is a CD that comes in the Da Capo Box, but unfortunately I seem to have been ripped off as my box did not come with a copy of it. It looked to have some game (of, I imagine, token value) on it, along with what I'm guessing is a short visual novel and perhaps some bonus images or something.

The third item in the box is a vintage 2003 calendar, which I imagine was more useful back in the day. It features 7 images (2 months apiece, plus one image for the entire 2004 year) which cover all the main characters. I guess, since it's old, it can be cannibalized for more art posters, since the art here is quite good except for Yoriko who of course has the only NWS shot in the calendar. Stupid cat maids..

In the end, essentially I did just buy a $13 book in a box, but it was a fairly 'worth-it' purchase, given the size of the book and the appeal of its contents, both in comprehensible and incomprehensible form. I'd recommend it to any D.C. fan, especially if you can actually get it with the CD. The back of the box says that D.C. Recollection Stories retails for 3200 yen.

These were the two purchases that I felt were worth covering - Book Off also has random $1 books like the 500-page Gran Turismo 2 guide I found, and I snagged a $5 copy of Megami 90, but the former is only tangentially related and the second is covered far too well by Kurogane, so there you go.

Also, I have no idea what these Kanon trading cards are, but they're ten cents apiece, and, well, Kanon.

(We apologize for the fault in the rampant Yoriko fanboying. Those responsible have been sacked.)

(We apologize again for the fault in the excessively bitter Yoriko fanboying. Those responsible for the sacking the people who have just been sacked, have been sacked.)

(The directors of the blog hired to continue the post after the other people had been sacked, wish it to be known that they also think highly of the characters of Kotori and the Mizukoshis. Also, they have been sacked. The post has been completed in a entirely different, raving fanboy style, at great expense and at the last minute.)


So jealous that you have the Da Capo artbook. They aren't easy to come by these days.

I'm so glad for you that we aren't on the same continent else you can be sure I'll relieve you of that DC artbook faster than one can say 'siscon' :)

GREAT BUY! Man, how can it be going for a mere $13?!?! Is there no justice in the world? Sorry, just couldn't help but be very envious of your fabulous purchase. XD

Thanks for sharing the pics with us. Will be looking out for it if I ever ravage Akiba. :)

It's virtually impossible to get any artbook from where I live and the only time I could get them was either when I travel or when I ordered them online.

Your CCS artbook really was a steal. I would gladly even part $8 for it since most artbook I do find online cost $20 and above minus shipping.

Hmm.. Me thinks its time to pay eBay another visit.

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