Sunday 8 April 2012

Ideolo's Black♣Album 2 (Doujinshi)

I've hunted Ideolo's doujinshi since I was made aware of their existence, yet somehow, they've always eluded my grubby little fingers. UNTIL NOW.

Ideolo's Touhou series is the epitome of high-contrast stylization. The colours are bright enough to punch your retina right in the cones. The heavy blacks are stark and uncompromising. Such abusive boldness can only signify greatness. Read on.

I'm not a short doujinshi person. My collection is devoid of doujinshi under 30 pages in length. Any less, and I start to feel like I'm paying for a calender rather than a collection. So at 24 pages (covers incuded), Ideolo's BlackAlbum 2 is an anomaly, and my shortest doujinshi, but what it lacks in length, it makes up for in sheer Touhou power.

One of my favourite works in BlackAlbum 2 is right on the cover. It's a good representation of what to expect: stylized, fully-coloured spreads of sheer occipital goodness.

BlackAlbum 2 is printed on B5 paper, with 7x10 inch dimensions. It's smaller than I'm used to for doujinshi, and I was a little jibbed by the reduced paper size (then I got over it). The paper is glossy, untextured, and held together by staples.

Almost every picture in BlackAlbum 2 is framed with a heavy black border. Each stars a different Touhou girl, and in case you have trouble remembering the dozens of characters, Ideolo gives them all nametags! Fortunately, they fit right into the picture and don't cause much of a distraction.

I assume BlackAlbum 2 picks up where BlackAlbum left off, although I can't be sure until I manage to get myself a copy of its predecessor.

What's certain, however, is that BlackAlbum 2 inherits BlackAlbum's style. Bold beautiful colours. Dark, delicious lines. Powerful gods and demons depicted as cute girls. As usual, Ideolo alters each Touhou girl's outfit, not enough to distract from the character, but enough to add a personal flair.

Sometimes I express my adulation for artists that are diverse. More times I express my adulation for artists that own a style, and there's no doubt Ideolo owns his style. There's no mistaking his work for another artist's. His pictures have his signature stamped all over them (not literally, of course).

So while I do usually like my doujinshi to be longer, but I can see the reasoning behind keeping BlackAlbum 2 to 24 pages. After all, page after page of Ideolo's bold style with little variation runs the risk of becoming overwhelming and—well—boring.

BlackAlbum 2 has two two-page spreads (wow, what an awkward, stuttering sentence). One features one of my favourite Touhou girls, hungry ghost princess Yuyuko. The other features former froggy god Suwako.

Damn Yuyuko, you lookin' fine.

I just noticed none of Ideolo's girls have noses. Slow, aren't I?

I love Ideolo's backgrounds. They integrate wonderfully with the entirety of the picture, but don't distract from the feature attraction. Each background contains small winks of the characters themselves. Momizi's background is strewn with silhouetted maple leaves. Sanae's includes a modern day telephone pole. Yuyuko's has her telltale butterfly lackies. Ideolo's backgrounds might not be the most detailed, but he clearly puts thought and effort in each one.

If some of the Touhou girls seem unfamiliar, don't fret. You're not missing a large chunk of the Touhou world. Rather than feature tried and tested favourites, namely Flandre, Reimu, Marisa, and Youmu, BlackAlbum 2 features many lesser known characters, including Kasen Ibara of the manga Wild and Horned Hermit and Luna Child from Fairy Wars.

Hey, even unappreciated characters deserve some representation.

The pictures in BlackAlbum 2 would make a great set of playing cards, don't you think?

I'm very partial towards vector-like styles. So when BlackAlbum 2 popped up on Mandarake for a measly 600 yen, I knew I had to snatch it. I would have preferred getting BlackAlbum, or better, Carnival Fantasy first, but it's so difficult to find I don't mind settling for third.

The relatively simplistic poses and straight-on angles of the Touhou girls really emphasize that dynamics and perspective aren't the main focus of this doujinshi. Instead, Ideolo chooses to do stylistic sommersaults, with BlackAlbum 2 having even heavier blacks than BlackAlbum and Carnival Fantasy. In hindsight, anything more complicated than straight-on shots of the girls might be too hectic for this sort of style. So while the girls aren't too exciting, they certainly are light and beautiful.

Enjoyment of this doujinshi really comes from personal predilection for Ideolo's specific style, and perhaps a predilection for Touhou, both of which I am in no shortage of. In the future, it would be neat to see Ideolo adventure even deeper into the world of dramatic shading and stylization. I, for one, would love to see a badass Flandre half enclosed in shadows.

Size: B5 (7"x10")
Length: 24 pages including covers
Price: ???
Purchased from: Mandarake

Lots of love,

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