For animation fans, Yoshitaka Amano is best known for creating Vampire Hunter D, the 1985 cult Anime, but his body of work goes back to 1972. For comic book readers, his illustrations appear in Sandman: The Dream Hunters, Wolverine and Electra, and HERO, his ongoing comic book series. For Video Game players, he is best known for creating the look of the Final Fantasy franchise since 1987. His ethereal designs imbue the series with an otherworldly beauty that is instantly memorable and inspiring.
The Sky is a collection of his artwork from the Final Fantasy years. The bulk of the collection is a three volume art book filled with images from the first 10 Final Fantasy games. In the images, we get the sense of awe and wonder that all Final Fantasy fans love. Every sketch feels like a visit with an old friend who helped you waste another moment of your youth.
While each book is filled with great images, volume 3 in particular is also bittersweet. A lot of the art inside it does not have any of the passion that the first two have. This is especially true for the FF10 artwork. It has bold lines surrounding the characters, instead of light pencil of the earlier ones. It is painful to look at because the evocative and ethereal nature of earlier Final Fantasy games is gone and is replaced with a mechanical precision that is nothing more than functional.
As a companion to the art books, the collection also includes All About Yoshitaka Amano. It is a 130 page book that is a rare glimpse into the mind and art of Yoshitaka Amano. From his New York Atelier, he talks about the various influences, hobbies, obsessions, and favorite places to shop. The final 20 pages are a visual guide to the images appearing in the art collection. All About also contains the first ever English interview Amano ever made.
Why is the collection called The Sky? The sky is a blank canvas that all sorts of images can drift through. Anything is possible if you can look up and let your mind wander. That is what Amano contributed to Final Fantasy: a sense of wonder and possibility. Thanks to his deft hand and active imagination, it is possible to see just about everything in a Final Fantasy game. Thanks to Amano, having the Steampunk Mecca battling the Fascist Regime makes sense. It also makes sense for a dancing plush doll to fight with the Abominable Snowman against a psychotic clown, but only in a Final Fantasy game.
As for negatives, there really aren’t any I can come up with. It is hard to criticize an art collection. By its very nature, only fans of the artist or the subject matter would ever pick it up. If you are a fan of either, pick it up. It is a great collection of iconic stuff that will evoke fond memories of your childhood.
The Sky: The Art of Final Fantasy Box Set will be available on October 30, 2012 for $140.00. The 5 volume collection contains three art collections filled with images from 10 Final Fantasy games. The companion volume, All About Yoshitaka Amano book is all about Yoshitaka Amano. It includes the Amano’s first ever English interview, taken exclusively for this collection. The 5th book in the series is a flip book with new artwork. It contains two “movies.” As a bonus, everything included in the collection will be signed by Amano himself.