Artbook Spotlight: Nostalgia

May 4, 2012

Nao Tsukiji – Shinshokan – 2011 – ISBN 9784403650499

JManga beat me to the punch! I logged on to the internet to write this article (it’s Thursday, so I’m doing it early), and JManga announced they’d be releasing a digital edition of this on their site next week. If I’m not mistaken, this is the first artbook they’ve offered. And it’s totally worth it.

I’m beginning to have a hard time introducing these artbook articles, because most of them start off with “this is one of the prettiest books I own.” Well, I only buy them if I think I’m really going to enjoy them, and I only cover my absolute favorites here, so this is going to be true every time. But Nostalgia is special. Nostalgia really is jaw-dropping gorgeous. I might like this better than some, or almost all, of the CLAMP books I own.

Tsukiji Nao writes Adekan, the first volume of which is available on
JManga. It’s set in Taisho-era Japan (1910s or so), and stars a police officer, an umbrella maker who is also a hidden weapons expert, and the skeevie crimes that are committed around them. As that, it is pretty great, but the more intriguing thing about Adekan is its ability to be one of the smuttiest manga I’ve ever read without actually having sex or naked bodies in it. The art is incredibly, incredibly erotic. Uniform and foot fetishists will be well-pleased, and the umbrella maker has a habit of contorting through the air half-clothed quite a bit. The two main characters are male, but it is not at all BL, though if I were reading it without a translation I would be positive that it was.

What this means, then, is that she’s an amazing illustrator that has a strangely erotic edge to her images. Adekan is the only series she’s worked on, and there are some Adekan illustrations in here, but more interesting is the fact that the majority of the content in Nostalgia is commercial illustrations for other things. And all of the illustrations are so pretty.

The cover illustration showcases pretty much everything I like about Tsukiji Nao. She has drop-dead gorgeous costume designs, she uses a lot of detail (even in her manga artwork), and in Nostalgia, she always uses the absolute best color palettes. In the hands of any other artist, I think the rainbow color scheme used in this image would probably look like Walt Disney threw up on it. But Tsukiji Nao pulls it off with a lot of style.

I’m leaving these scans really huge so that you can click on them to look at them. Here is another example of the insane amount of detail she uses. The bust at the top is wearing a jeweled headpiece, for which she’s drawn every facet on every jewel, and it drapes around the edges of the image, along with a staff and some blowing drapes, another woman’s head that’s wearing a cape that turns into a starry night background, and a knight in armor. I stared at that image a good five minutes before I scanned it, just looking at all the little pieces and watching them flow together. Incredible.

Shoes! And here’s a good example of the costume design. I’m not sure which I like more. The peacock feather leggings? The birdcage shoe? Or the shoes that have a fantasy landscape twirling up the girl’s leg?

This is one of the very few images without a background, this one from Adekan. I’m guessing this was probably the cover to Wings or something, usually cover images don’t have backgrounds. I’m skipping all of the double-page illustrations, and if you knew what I was leaving out, you would kill me with your thoughts. This is an example of one of the more erotic illustrations, but this book desensitized me to it so much that this isn’t registering. Honestly, this is one of the more mild ones, and I can see most of this man’s butt. This is actually an image of the sheath that Shiro wears under his yukata, so this isn’t even really clothes. The double-page illustrations for Adekan are… hmm. A little spicy.

JESUS. It took me a minute to realize that Koujirou’s knee-high spat was undone on the leg he was crossing with Shiro, who’s wearing a garter belt holster for his knives. I didn’t crop this, but I didn’t realize until just now that this image was also used in the table of contents to the first volume of Adekan.

But the Adekan illustrations are only a small part of the book. As are the illustrations with an erotic edge. Most of them are these elaborate illustrations of women. A large section in the middle has many themed illustrations like this (colors and gemstones, mostly), and some of them look like stationery designs. I’m blown away that this is dated 2003, making it one of the earlier images. It’s still quite elaborate and amazing.

Here’s a nice, very detailed Christmas illustration for you. I think this one might be colored traditionally, rather than digitally, but I could be wrong.

I just like this one. This was another that I stared at for about five minutes before I scanned it. Lots of stuff going on, and I like the play with black and white.

She also has several illustrations themed after fairy tales and whatnot. This is Alice in Wonderland, which I scanned both because I liked the big bow on Alice and the really scary Cheshire Cat in the corner. There are also some very nice Red Riding Hood illustrations, some very elaborate, some where Red is packing a huge gun, and one where she’s making out with a dude dressed in a gigantic wolf skin.

I love mermaids. Here, we see one in a bottle. Moving on…

There are also a handful of bookplate-looking illustrations towards the end of the book. This is the most obvious, and my favorite of the group. Also a fine image to end on.

Again, I’m not scanning a lot of the double-page illustrations. The first third of the book has several, and they are gorgeous. But you can see from the random sample I have here that this is an absolute must-have. For me, anyway, and if you enjoy oogling pretty shoujo artwork, it’s for you, too. One of the absolute best I’ve seen, honestly. It’s incredibly lucky that JManga is releasing it digitally, but it’s worth owning in book form, too. It came out last… summer, I believe, and should still be widely available as a relatively inexpensive (for an artbook) paperback.

3 Responses to “Artbook Spotlight: Nostalgia”

  1. lys Says:

    Ohhhh, pretty!!!! I’m so glad you write these posts and give just a taste of what the artbooks contain. This is going on my list of books to look for! (It is nice that JManga happened to time their release so conveniently, but with artbooks especially I’d really rather have my own copy to gaze at and gloat over.) I think you’re right about the Christmas illustration being done with traditional media, and several others have that look too—”purple,” Alice, the mermaid, and maybe the jewel-facet one posted after the cover. That’s even more impressive to me. I think many artists are either really good at traditional or really good at digital, but she can obviously handle both. Ahh… thanks again for sharing!!

  2. Connie Says:

    I’m glad you liked it! I’m never sure how interested anyone is in this stuff.

    I think you’re right about the traditional media on the other illustrations. I noticed it as I was scanning them, and forgot to mention it. The middle section was all older illustrations, so it must’ve been before she switched to digital. You’re right, though, it’s rare that an artist can do both as well as she does. And her digital coloring is so pretty! I don’t think I’ve ever seen digital color I’ve liked as much as hers.

    She just had another artbook out, I noticed. I think it’s a shorter one with just Adekan illustrations. I assume there will be a lot of overlap, but man, I adore her work. I’m going to spring for it anyway.

  3. Zoe Says:

    My spouse and I stumbled over here by a different page and thought I should check things out.
    I like what I see so i am just following you.
    Look forward to looking into your web page yet again.


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