Art Book Review: Squad – Concept Designs for “BEATLESS”

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I’ve been a huge fan of redjuice for some time, but I never got around to actually buying any art books that contained solely his work. For those of you not familiar with redjuice, he is a graphic artist that has worked on shows such as Guilty Crown and Vividred Operation. He is also the illustrator for a manga series called “BEATLESS“.

A few weeks ago I was browsing the web and stumbled upon a website called Tokyo Otaku Mode. It’s a pretty nice site that has a huge gallery of anime related artwork and cosplays, news and a shop that launched not too long ago. Too my surprise, later that day I noticed that the site was selling a redjuice doujinshi set, which include two of his artbooks, Squad and Neutral, as well as a clear file. Considering that Neutral was sold out on the web store that redjuice provided on his deviantArt page (I know he’s pretty inactive there) and that a quick google search brought back no hits for sites that were selling it, I decided to jump on the opportunity, despite never ordering from them before. It sold out before I could get it when it was first posted, but the staff at Toyko Otaku Mode were kind enough to notify me when it was in stock again.

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The clear file that came with the set. Great for holding my sheet music 🙂

Today I’ll be reviewing just his artbook “Squad – Concept Designs for BEATLESS”. I’ll post a review of the other book, Neutral, sometime in the coming week.

IMG_8688Well, as the title of the book states, this art book contains concept designs for the manga series “BEATLESS”. The core of the book contains character and device sketches with notes in Japanese (which I can’t read…), as well as finished full color pieces of artwork that span either one or two pages. In total, there are about 40 pages.

Each individual book, Neutral and Squad, is priced at around 1000 yen ($10 USD) on the website provided by redjuice’s deviantArt page. Bear in mind, this doesn’t include shipping. I managed to pick up this whole set off Tokyo Otaku Mode for around $30 USD, which included free international shipping; a pretty good deal.

IMG_8691The sketches themselves are rather small, so it can be somewhat hard to truly appreciate the detail in them. As you can see below, there is a lot of white space on the right page where a sketch of the character is located, which I feel could have been utilized better. I’m not sure if that is the original size of the sketch or if it was scaled down for the book; hopefully it wasn’t the latter as they had room to keep it larger.

IMG_8692The first 15-20 pages of the book follow the format above: one colored full page piece of artwork witch a sketch on the other page. After that, the book mainly contains sketches and smaller colored characters.

IMG_8695I’ve always loved concept art, so I’m a sucker for these kind of books. Mix in my favorite artist and this set was an absolute must buy for me. I think anyone can agree that redjuice’s work is simply stunning after taking a look at it.

IMG_8697I only wish I could read Japanese to get even more out of this book. I would say that there is more text here than most of the art books I own, but not too much that it overwhelms and takes away from the book if you can’t read Japanese.

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Is it Worth the Buy?

In my opinion, this was a great buy. Like I said, I got both Squad and Neutral for around $30, so this particular book cost me around $15, which is a pretty reasonable price. I really enjoy looking at sketch work being an artist myself as I get a better sense of how I can go about constructing my own drawings. There is a nice even balance between the full page, full color artwork and the sketches. I could never get bored from flipping through this. I would highly suggest buying it if you enjoy looking at this kind of stuff. You can check here on Tokyo Otaku Mode and see if sales re-open soon. You can also check his Facebook page and deviantArt account.

If you’re not really a fan of sketches and prefer art books where there are finished full color piece of artwork, then this book isn’t for you. If you’re interested in redjuice’s work, but not this particular book, he has quite a few you can choose from. For example, “IGNITION”  is a portfolio of redjuice’s work from 2009-2010 and looks like it contains full page, full colored artwork throughout the whole book. You may be able to get your hands on it from Tokyo Otaku Mode if sales re-open.

That’s it for today! If my Snow Miku 2013 Nendoroid comes in the mail tomorrow, my next post will most likely be a review on her. Catch you later!

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3 responses to “Art Book Review: Squad – Concept Designs for “BEATLESS”

  1. I like when an artbook also features some kind of process. Sketches, character designs, environments. Anything from sketch to concept to kind of show a thought process. It’s fun if the artists tells a bit about his works along the way. Of course reading Japanese isn’t everybody’s cup of tea.

    Redjuice always has impressive works. I believe he is rather busy with his work to frequently update his dA, perhaps he’s more active on Pixiv:p

    • That’s exactly why I really like this art book. I love looking at the process behind creating something; it’s always intrigued me. And yeah, redjuice posts a lot more on his Pixiv account.

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