When I first heard that this book was coming out I assumed it would be just another gimmick to bilk Yoko fans out of a bit more cash, consisting of little more than recycled Megami and Newtype posters padded with screenshots from the show. This is Gainax we’re talking about, after all – the company that never sells something once when they can sell it twice (or a dozen times). Imagine my surprise upon paging through it that the volume in fact contains an astonishing amount of new material created exclusively for this book – and much of it really nice work. After rubbing my eyes to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating the Gainax of two decades ago I immediately decided the volume had to be procured, so here, a mere three months late, is our look at Yoko’s portrait collection:
Product Title: 天元突破グレンラガンヨーコ写真集 – Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann Yoko Shashinshuu
Source: Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
Release Date: February 1st, 2008
Page Count: 64 A4 pages, full color
Price: 1,890 JPY (tax included)
Availability: Amazon, Mangaoh
Support HD!: J-List, Play-Asia, YesAsia
The book’s 64 pages are broken down thusly:
- 1-3: frontspiece, table of contents
- 4-35: gallery
The gallery’s 32 pages contain 20 “photos” (the book’s Japanese title translates as “photo collection”), 15 of which are newly published here.
- 36-39: interview
Comments from the artists of the various gallery images about the creative process behind their works.
- 40-41: guest comments
Commentary on Yoko from the perspective of various other characters in the Gurren Lagann universe.
- 42-49: Yoko style check
Yoko character design and accessory/vehilce illustrations and commentary on them from throughout the entire series.
- 50-51: teach me, Yomako-sensei
Questions from thinly veiled silhouettes of various G-L cast members directed at Yomako-sensei, Yoko’s teacher alter ego.
- 52-59: memory album
Screenshots and descriptions of memorable Yoko scenes from throughout the series.
- 60-61: Yoko jargon file
A dictionary of key words from the series and their definitions as they pertain to Yoko.
- 62-63: figure catalog
A compilation of photos of the Yoko PVCs and resin kits released to date (February ’08).
- 64: endspiece, credits
The book also contains a Yoko “bromide”, a word I had to look up that apparently means “celebrity photo” in Japanese. I typically don’t open the sealed packets these things come in so I’m not sure what’s inside, but I assume it’s another image printed on glossy photo paper.
In evaluating the contents of this collection there are two points of view one can take, as I see it. One is that taken by most of the Amazon reviews, which fault it for false advertising, essentially: “It’s called a ‘photo collection’, and it’s only half full of ‘photos’ – what gives?” “There’s not enough content,” etc. etc.
The other viewpoint is that compared to similar items in its class, this collection has an exceptional amount of original content – more than any other artbook I’ve reviewed, and perhaps more than any other artbook I own. While I think we’d all like to see 64 pages of completely original material in a volume such as this the economics of the sequential art world make it a virtual impossibility, and in recognition of that fact the amount of original work here is truly exceptional.
In conclusion, I’d say that while as a “photo book” Gurren Lagann Yoko Portraits may be a weak offering, as an “artbook” this volume is one of the nicest I’ve seen in terms of the amount of original content created specifically for it, and I hope this is a format we’ll see repeated (and improved upon) in the future.