This is one of the most beautiful animation background artbooks I've seen. I've actually reviewed the original Japanese edition 新海誠美術作品集 空の記憶 ~ The sky of the longing for memories ~ which was published in 2008. Publisher Vertical Comics has provided a huge fan service by translating the book into English. It's certainly worth translating and more people should get to see this book.
The only difference I noticed is the lack of dust jacket. Even the paper used is the low gloss type. Colours are reproduced wonderfully.
A Sky Longing for Memories: The Art of Makoto Shinkai is the artbook that collects the background art for 5 Centimeters Per Second, The Place Promised in Our Early Days and Voices from a Distant Star.
I've watched those three anime films many years ago and can't really remember what the stories were about. But one thing that I cannot forget is the beautiful background art in those films.
The commentary provides talks about the design aspect of each scene and it's really insightful. Now that all the text has been translated to English, I can now understand the amount of work that goes behind each painting.
Attention to details is amazing. You'll find out that all the background art are well researched and tediously put together. Some scenes are the results of several photo references used together, while some others are painted over photos while taking into account the colour scheme. There's research done on design of trains, vending machines, LED lights on signboards, routes of the trains so that they can be accurately portrayed in drawing. To draw Akari's homemade lunch, the staff actually cooked and packed the meal, then photographed it for use as reference. All those tiny words on fare charts, open pages of books are actually all hand drawn in. Environment scenes painted with photo reference take into account the seasons and colour of the air.
There's something about Japanese anime art that makes them look so fine. The level of detail in the background really makes a huge difference to the visual aesthetics. Every piece of art in this book is perfectly composed, and colour scheme carefully chosen. It's just awe-inspiring to see how many pieces of art there are to come out from the films. It's not all from Makoto Shinkai as there are other artists involved as well, many are interviewed at the back of the book. There's also a section that talks about how the scenes are created for animation.
I highly recommend this book for its stunning art.
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