CHOCOLATE GOUACHE marks CHOCO's first commercial collection, and it begins with much fanfare sporting decorative packaging along with prints and an art DVD. But when you strip away all the extraneous bits, you'll find you just paid ￥ 6,980 for a 112 page art book---and that's extravagant even for this stunning art book ^^;
Although the books in CHOCOLATE GOUACHE are A4 sized, the casing is a large 15.8 x 11.3 inch box that neatly separates the contents. The first thing revealed when it's opened is an envelope containing three prints that is roughly the size of the box. Each print features one of the new illustrations of the cover girls used for the set. Underneath the envelope with the prints is the art book case, housing the two paperback art books---one monochrome and one color. And underneath that is the DVD which includes .PSD illustrations of CHOCO's three cover girls, along with a video process of the illustrations and brushes.
Now, it's sad that I can do this, but the SIDE: MONOCHROME art book can be summarized with the three photos above. It's 112 pages long and A4-sized, but the content is entirely small, very lightly drawn rough sketches, with the exception of about four pages. There have been substantial monochrome sections in art books before---Range Murata's PRISMTONE is a good example---but I wasn't expecting illustrations this rough. I should have been though, considering it's what he always places in his doujinshi. But even those had a good amount of monochrome works along with the sketches. And in keeping with the monochrome theme, this book ends with a 6-page interview with CHOCO.
But even if SIDE:MONOCHROME was a disappointment, SIDE:COLOR is so gorgeous, I can nearly forgive it. SIDE:COLOR is also A4-sized, paperback and 112 pages, but it's packed from front to back with color illustrations wasting no pages on things like interviews or indexes. The book starts out with the three cover girl illustrations (again) followed by about 20 pages of Xenosaga illustrations from his Xeno Emission doujins.
There are some design-centric pages, featuring mecha, ships and weapons from various angles. Also, the character designs for the Xenosaga main characters are included over two pages.
The Xenosaga section is followed by Busou Shinki (武装神姫) mecha girl designs, most of which have even been made into figures. These are easily some of the most creative works in the book, incorporating girls with mecha and instruments to create very unique looks.
After that, we enter the IGNA CROSS (イグナクロス零号駅) section with this rose petal beauty.
All of the illustrations that were featured in Dengeki Daioh GENESIS for the IGNA CROSS booklet are included, though in some cases the illustrations were presented larger in the magazine extra. After that section, some of the works that were featured in CHOCO's Chocolate Geometry are included, as well as the Rei Ayanami top page illustration from the GAINAX website.
Towards the end are some guest illustrations, like the Tsukuyomi Moon Phase one above. Hazuki looks a little different though, minus the ears. There's also a Demobane illustration, CHAOS;HEAD weapon designs and other works.
Two of the much older illustrations for Pure Girl Magazine covers that CHOCO did are included, but the rest are showcased all on a single page slightly larger than thumbnail size. I wasn't too bothered because I have the Pg doujinshi where they all appear, but it may have been a better use of pages than more weapons and mecha designs.
More recent CHOCO illustrations, like his original works for The White Lion doujinshi and figure set that came out last year were also included. The SIDE:COLOR art book really is wonderful, and were I reviewing this alone, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it. But knowing that it's part of a greater set where I can't help but feel not all the pieces carried their weight, it may be worth waiting to see if a more standard edition of CHOCOLATE GOUACHE is produced.
- Title: CHOCOLATE GOUACHE
- タイトル: CHOCOLATE GOUACHE
- Pages: 224
- Release date: 12/23/2010
- Buy: Amazon Japan