There are two parts to The Art of Oban Star-Racers. The first part is a visual guide to the animated series and the second part has stories on the production. If you haven't watch the animation, be forewarned that there are spoilers in this book, on page 60 and on the episode guide at the back.
The first part serves as a good introduction to the story and the characters. The writeup on the characters are really interesting in part because the characters are interesting themselves.
The character designs are unique and really fun to look at. Head character designer Thomas Romain has done a tremendous job for creating such a diverse set of characters. I found the design for Ceres pretty hilarious. He either looks like a cross between an "oceanic statue and a Picasso sculpture" or a piece of thin brown circuitry board that has arms and legs. One character Aikka, flies a giant beetle for a ship.
The background concept drawings are beautiful and I'm glad they printed them big. I like the style of the set designs, particularly the colour choices.
In the second part, creator and director Savin Yeatman-Eiffel talks candidly about the production challenges he faces. There was great uncertainty in the direction of the story and he had to motivate his team. He recounts his multiple rejections from investors until he saw a message from Minoru Takanashi, a producer in chief for Bandai Visual (Japan) who's willing to invest. It's interesting though not surprising that only someone who has done 2D animation can see saw the potential. So his team moved over to Tokyo to create the animation. There are stories on working with the Japanese, with the 3D studio back in France, the interaction, script and of course, the occasional crisis.
This book an inspiring read for those love animation and into animation. For those who are just fans of the series, there might be a new sense of appreciation, after finding out the effort that went into creating it.
Great book. Highly recommended.
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