Wednesday 21 September 2011

Ar Tonelico: Melody of Elemia Material Collection

Ah, Ar Tonelico, always so full of gorgeous character designs and environments.  Somehow it really is suited for sprite games.  To be completely honest, I fell in love with the artwork before the game.  I seriously can't get enough of Ryou Nagi's designs, so I just had to pick up an Ar Tonelico Settei (creation) book.

For those of you who don't know much about the Ar Tonelico game, the original Japanese title is Ar Tonelico: Sekai no Owari de Utai Tsudzukeru Shōjo. Pretty long, right?

Anyway, it's totally all about the girls!


When you take a glance at the cover art for the Ar Tonelico Material collection, you'll notice that Ryou Nagi’s art style is very soft and beautiful. If you look around the web, you’ll discover that some of his artwork may hold a rating higher than PG-13. Fortunately, there are none in the Ar Tonelico book. Well, maybe some borderline risqué ones, but nothing so bad you can’t share it with friends or family members!

This particular book is chock full of status and costume art work from the game itself, and it includes the countless conversation expressions. You’ll get the happy look, the sad look, the angry look, heck, even the possessed look!

The great thing about it is that you also get to see the initial sketches of every major character, boss, and song summon fairy/robot/creature in the game. I actually really enjoyed seeing the various designs Nagi had for Misha and Aurica since they were the main Reyvateils. The oriental look on Misha is truly lovely and elaborate. I absolutely adored her final design (and a few of the concept ones actually). You even get to see the true form and initial sketches of the final boss. How cool is that?

Now this is what every art book should have!

I only wish there were more colourful/group pictures. The illustration gallery found at the beginning of the book is only eight measly pages. Seven pictures, really, because the original soundtrack artwork happened to cover two pages. Sadly, they couldn’t even include the drama CD artwork. I believe they were either released later or the book simply focused on what was in the videogame itself.

On a brighter note, there are several sketches scattered throughout the character section. Bios are also included; age, weight, and full names!  This definitely makes up for the lack of illustrations, I can guarantee that.

The third section in the materials collection explains the world and history of Ar Tonelico (visuals are included). The concept sketches on various locations in the game are elaborate and breathtaking. It’s amazing how detailed some towns are when you view their skeletons. In colour they still look detailed and vibrant, but you don’t see the countless lines used to develop every building, bridge, and plant. Even if you’re not a fan of the series, you can really appreciate the amount of effort they put into the intricate designs.

Now, hymnos is a language that was created just for the game, so we wouldn’t be able to understand it even though it sounds absolutely beautiful. In fact, chances are the only way you can understand it (aside from searching online) is if you buy the Material Collection books. Amazingly enough they translated the lyrics of every song in Japanese and included them in these books. Pretty neat, right? By the way, if you haven’t heard any songs from Ar Tonelico, I highly recommend you go find some. They might just take your breath away!

Finally, you have the datafile and story of Ar Tonelico near the back. The datafile, to my surprise, contains the sprites of enemies from the game. Even though they are pixelated, I’m impressed Softbank included it in the book. After that there are about five pages of story in the back. I can’t exactly explain what information is available because I myself can’t understand it, so fans can research it online.


The book is by no means flimsy. The quality is smooth but firm, so I had no worries flipping through the pages. The cover is glossy, so you may find some fingerprints on it when you hold it, but that’s easy to wipe off!

It might be difficult to find this book nowadays since it was released a long while back. I bought this art book at Mandarake while I was visiting Japan last summer. You’re best off checking on eBay for this book. For 1200 ¥ this book was a steal, and I’m very glad I picked it up! With a copious amount of original sketches and art work, this book is definitely worth buying, especially if you are a fan of Ryou Nagi and Ar Tonelico.

Content: 9/10 (Lots of concept artwork included. Great material book!)
Price: 10/10 (Considering the amount of content you get, this book is absolutely worth the amount I paid)
Quality of the book: 9/10 (The cover is firm to prevent tears. The cover is also glossy!)

Overall: 9.3/10

Company: SoftBank Creative
Number of Pages: 128 (Soft cover)
Purchased from: Mandarake (used)
Price: 1200 ¥ (Original Price
2400 ¥

(Sorry for some of the odd pictures. It was actually very difficult keeping this book open while taking shots!)

~Sui Chee

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