Friday 21 February 2014

Yuu's "Magic" (Doujinshi)

Hey all, it's been a while since I pumped out an artbook/doujinshi review! I have an explanation! I swear!

Today we'll be looking at one of the only doujinshi I picked up in the past year. Magic by Yuu (last name currently unknown) is a short, yet spectacular orgy of pastel softness and astounding detail. But hey, don't trust just my word. Take a look for yourself.

If you have been following this blog, you'll know I imposed upon myself a stringent set of rules in the year of 2013. Growing financial commitments and a series of inconvenient events made me hyperaware (and rather nervous) of my shaky monetary situation. One of my self-imposed rules, unfortunately, involved cutting all leisurely paper products from my collecting habits. So for the past year, I have not touched, or even bothered to look at doujinshi, artbooks, posters, or other printed merch. Does that mean I've stopped collecting art? Not in the slightest. I mean to pick up where I left off, as soon as my situation allows. Consider it a hiatus of sorts.

That being said, I still have a buttload of doujinshi from previous years that dearly need reviews, so never fear! There will be art reviews for months to come.

As aforementioned, Magic by Yuu is one of the last books I picked up before my rules took effect. Boy, am I glad I found this little masterpiece before going cold turkey. This small, but potent collection is choked to the brim on fantastic pieces that do nothing less than stun the visual cortex. It's like being bombed. With artistic excellence. At only 24 pages, it hasn't the same bulk as other doujinshi, and at B5, it's smaller as well, but what it lacks in size and bulk, it makes up for with sheer colour and detail.

This is its cover. Look at its cover. Look at that delicious, golden frame. You know we're in for a good ride.

I have never heard of this Yuu or their circle The Door of Arcadia (sounds like something right out of Dungeons & Dragons), but from the very first page, I was a fan. Magic's illustrations stretch from border to border, without a single blank space in sight. Each are finished, fully coloured, and professional. Seriously, I would love to see some of these pieces blown up into wall posters.

Yuu's art is filled with light. Not simply brightness, lightness. There's an airy atmosphere to the illustrations that makes you feel as though they might dissolve into thin air if you're not careful. And they're mad detailed.

I like to refer to Yuu's pictures as "framed chaos". Yuu has a wonderful way soft-framing a picture, i.e. not using definitive borders while still containing the details within a certain shape (see chocolate girl on the left), while simultaneously filling the page with minutiae. The softness of the subjects mixed with the sharpness of the details make for some wonderful contrast. Only on my third look did I notice there were three girls in the picture on the left.

Unlike many artists, Yuu pays just as much attention to backgrounds as they do characters. Instead of drawing attention to one feature or another, the pictures are a harmonious clash of colours and patterns. Characters can be so swamped they are almost hidden. With no definite focal points, your eye is allowed to wander and savour freely, to take your time with each page and really look. In fact, it's in the wandering that you notice many of the pictures' details. It seems the best way to take in the lovely nuances of each page.

There are no sections in this doujinshi, only brilliant art. As far as I know, Yuu only includes original characters, but there is one illustration that obviously pays homage to Alice in Wonderland. 

There are only a couple of two-page spreads in Magic. This doujinshi, unfortunately, does not have a strong spine. It's is glued together, and takes badly to bending. In the process of taking photos, I accidentally tore several seams in my copy (and consequently swore a lot). If there is one, just one, downside to this gorgeous collection, it's its physical fragility. I almost wish it were held together by staples instead, like Kurogin's Archive Illustrations 2006-2009, and Rco Wada's Toka + Toka 2.

My one other grouse involves the doujinshi's matte finish. It's actually not an issue to the naked eye, but it does make the paper seem grainy in photos. My camera is more sensitive than my eye, apparently. So excuse the extra noise in the photos. As they say, too much of a good thing, in this case, clarity, can do more harm than good. Again, I'm just grousing here. If you don't plan on taking photos of the doujinshi, this is a non-issue.

Although there are no sections in this doujinshi, Yuu does includes a series of age-themed pictures. There are six in all, all beautifully framed, all corresponding to a certain time of day, all with its own, unique colour palette, starting from "the childroom in morning" to "the bedroom at midnight". For no particular reason, it made me a little emotional. Life, bro. Life.

And, whoa, we're done!

I keep forgetting how short 24 pages is. Believe me when I say this book feels longer than 24 pages. The amount of time I spent staring at each picture, admiring its details, carefully flipping through the pages, then doing it all over again, is astounding.

Is this doujinshi worth getting? Yes, absolutely. It's a real gem. Magic is sold out in stores at the moment, so your best chance of snagging it is to stalk stores that sell used items, such as Mandarake. It can be hard to find, but believe me, it's worth the effort.

Title: Magic
Author: Yuu (
Circle The Door of Arcadia (アルカディアの扉)
Size: B5 (7.3 x 10.2 in)
Pages: 24
Price: 1400 yen
Purchased From: Alice-Books



  1. I like illustrations that not just focus on a characters, what these pages show is so much more.
    It's a lot closer to elaborate art than something inspired by anime pop culture.
    the double pages 6 &7 as well as 11 & 12 are lovely.

    1. Same. I like illustrations that go beyond simple anime influence, especially if it shows off the artist's distinct abilities. My favourite illustration is the one with the bell girls. It's so ethereal and soft. I'd love to have it as a wall poster.


  2. Redjuice's Redbox is out, so dont forget to get one guys. :)

    1. Yes, thanks for the reminder! I always knew he'd publish a collection. =]