It’s time again for the periodic indulgence in my unhealthy fixation on a particular artist that we call the Creator Spotlight. In this installment we take a look at the work of bishoujo game character designer and illustrator INO, a master of the craft who has been active for more than a decade. Despite an even more mysterious background than that of Sano Toshihide and a personal website not updated since 2003, our stalking efforts persevere – just what is known of this master of light and shadow, bust and hip? Read on! 18+ ONLY, NWS. 02/11/07 Update: Artbook cover image below!
On his Wikipedia page Ino is described as “a game graphic designer and illustrator, with work primarily consisting of visual direction for adult games”. On his personal website he describes himself as lazy, careless, and indecisive, a fan of Philip K. Dick and Alfred Bester, and a purple-haired lad with a single large ball. In addition to CG design and game direction he lists toilet cleaning among his professional activities. We were unable to obtain pictures of toilets he has cleaned to verify this fact.
His game design work extends from 1996 through the present day, working primarily with Mink until late 2003 when he went freelance. The full list of games he has designed is as follows:
While I had occasionally come across his work in the past on random image boards, it wasn’t until his release blitz of 2005 that I was able to tie a name to the fantastic art. I picked up both Oshioki Sweetie and Kiss x 400 in that period, and my fandom was cemented; here was an artist who, like Sano Toshihide and Happoubi Jin, I would gladly stalk to the grave.
Characteristics of Style
The amazing quality of Ino’s work rests in my opinion in a one-two-three-four punch of awesomeness. First is his masterful versatility when it comes to erotic poses, rendering them naturally, not looking forced or uncomfortable or out of proportion, but balanced in ways that many of his peers cannot mimic. His use of foreshortening techniques and occasionally exotic poses adds a dynamic character to his art that is irresistible.
Second, the “anime physics” he employs is both delicious and internally coherent. He draws chests and body shapes of all sizes and proportions, but they all obey the same rules of weight and mass – no spherical breasts here, no mysteriously spindly limbs. While admittedly out of this world, his physics are consistent and allow the lines of his characters to play together in a harmonious conjunction that just hangs right.
Third, his faces. His characters occupy a space somewhere between the saucer-eyed bishoujo and the sophisticated older sister type; regardless of the age they’re actually supposed to be I find myself placing most of them in the “saucy college coed” category, appropriately tinged with the innocence brought by a level of abstraction away from reality. There’s nothing severe about his designs; they range from bright-eyed and energetic to somewhat more reserved, but always incredibly attractive.
The CG coloring prowess he brings to bear is the fourth and final pillar of his towering artistic might. While this varies somewhat from maker to maker as they all supply different CG staff for their projects, with Ino on as visual lead we’re assured a baseline of coloring quality that is crisp, voluminous (while firmly within the cel-shading tradition) and precise. He paints with the same sureness of purpose that characterizes his line work, a style mutable to his purpose from the gauzy, dreamy look in Izayoi to the plasticky shine of Oshioki.
Other Work and The Future
It is with great sadness that I report an utter lack of knowledge regarding any derivative works produced based on his games, or anything else other than games that his illustrations have adorned. Perhaps no eroanime studio has the guts to tackle his obviously superior designs.
In terms of what we can expect from Ino in the future, no word on any game featuring his art has appeared since the publication of Kimihagu in March of this year. Given his recent trend of working on multiple titles simultaneously I’m guessing the news will start to emerge in the next few months, though, perhaps timed to coincide with the release of the first ever artbook compilation of his work next month!
That’s right, the big Ino news we bring today is that an artbook dubbed “INO Art Works” is set for release on November 17th from Core Magazine, clocking in at 204 (presumably full color) pages and 2,940 yen retail. We don’t have a cover image yet, but product entries are up at the following stores if you’re like me and feel the insatiable urge to preorder:
We’ll be keeping a close eye out over the next couple of weeks for further news on this most auspicious item, as well as any upcoming Ino-designed games that should be announced. I certainly plan to review the artbook when it comes out and update this entry to suit, so stay tuned!
a fitting end from Niizuma wa Sailor Fuku
Amazon has updated their listing for the book with a cover image! It’s apparently entitled “Velvet Skin: Ino Art Works”, and is still set to go on sale November 17th. Tanoshimi da wa~
Velvet Skin is now available at J-List! This is the best way to support HD with your purchase, should you be so inclined.
Our review of Velvet Skin is now online! It’s an amazing book, as expected… definitely worth adding to your collection if you’re an INO fan.