Thursday 29 September 2011

Nao Tsukiji's "Nostalgia Original Illustration Works 2001-2010" (Art Book)

Those who know me also know I'm not often struck speechless, but the breathtaking quality of this art book blew me to high heaven and stranded me there. Opening this book is like opening Goodness itself. It should be accompanied by a celestial orchestra and all the double rainbows in the world.

I would sell my soul for an eighth of Nao Tsukiji's talent. This art book is so pumped full of details and colours that it's difficult to handle in one sitting. Each page is a treasurehorde of meticulous niceties. Every time I look, I find something new, and every time I look, I shed a tear (out of sheer beauty).

I kid you not, this collection is a thing of pure beauty. After viewing this book, I suffered the cold realization that I will never, despite my best efforts, be as good as her. Then I rocked a little in a corner and sobbed silent tears of disillusionment. Worse, this isn't even remotely a comprehensive collection of this woman's genius talent. As the title suggests, this book only contains only original works. Her heavenly slew of equally exquisite fan art didn't make it into this collection.

We begin with the front and back cover.

Love at first sight? No such thing.

Until I saw this book.

Nostalgia is composed of both single and double page spreads. A couple 1/2 page spreads also appear, though these are far rarer. With the exception of about 5 pages, it's in full colour---full, glorious colour. We begin with Chapter 1. Works for Magazine, which spans 54 pages, which begins with this:

What? Be still, racing heart! What a way to start! Just to give more an idea of how detailed her style is, here are two close-up shots of miniscule fractions of the pictures above.

Nao Tsukiji has a distinct style. It's anime-based, but different enough to set her apart from the masses. She's certainly not afraid to rainbow up her drawings, but also equally competent with less flamboyant palettes.

The curled up seashell girl happens to be one of my favourites.

My god, look at those orgasmic colors! And they're even better in real life! Anyone else tasting the rainbow here?

Oh my god, the eyes, the eyes!
Nao Tsukiji's art contains a few repeated characters. Her (badass) rendition of Little Red Riding Hood appears a few times throughout this collection. Many pictures in this section take on a fantastic, other-worldly feel, with a mix of both Eastern and Western styles.

She's not only fearless with colour, but forward with contrast too. She's like a superhero, but in an artistic sense. Such reckless boldness. I like it.

All that unapologetic red...
A red-green combination that doesn't spell Christmas!
You learn something new everyday. Before I bought this art book, I had no idea Nao Tsukiji had a manga. I've never heard of it, but I'm sure it's as detailed and insane (in a good way) as the rest of her art.

The next section of Nostalgia takes us through Chapter 2. Works for Comics. At 22 pages, this section is the shortest in the collection and features characters from her manga. I apologize for not knowing the names or roles they play, or even what her manga is called. I do know, however, that this section contains a cast of exceedingly attractive men (often posed suggestively with one another).

An example of a black and white page:

At cast of delicate-looking boys (and girls).

The next section is titled Chapter 3. Work for Indie Letter Papers and spans a generous 76 pages. This is possibly my favourite section of the collection.

This is also the section where Nao Tsukiji shows off her propensity to detail tiny flowers and gems (although she has a propensity to detail everything). I talso displays her range of operable styles.

A rare, 1/2 page spread.

Nao Tsukiji is proficient with smooth colouring and more stylized, harder-lined styles.

Several works seem to deal with themes, such as gems. Below are Pearl (those strands look heavy) and Diamond, both snazzed up in beautiful mineral decor. The reflective quality she puts in her gems is stunning.

More pictures. I assume her 1/2 page spreads were used for postcards (beautiful, glorious postcards). There's so much going on in some of her pictures it takes me several looks to notice it all. I never realized the blonde girl in the festive picture had legs until---well---now. Boy am I dense.

Less colourful pieces of her work somehow manage to be equally colourful in its own way. Did that make any sense? Probably not.

These two pictures happen to rank among my favourites.

This section is full of beautiful arrangements. Characters spring from borders, backgrounds congeal into characters---the transitions are wonderfully smooth and aesthetic.

Many of Nao Tsukiji's works have a rough, pencil-like texture. In an art world populated by smooth photoshop, it's refreshing to see something reminescent of traditional art. You know, just to remind us pencil is still a viable tool for colouring and sketchiness can be used to perpetuate style.

Last but not least, an example of art nouveau, beautifully framed and beautifully stylized. There are several in this collection that use this high-contrast style. (Ex Libris = "from the books).

Ok. Let me stop and remember to breathe.

I have nothing but high adulation for this book. I 100% recommend it to everyone and their grandmothers. It's a slice of concentrated beauty.

Nao Tsukiji's Nostalgia easily beats out the competition for "best art book ever". Get it if you can. Get it now. It'll ruin other art books for you---well, maybe not---but you know what I mean. I got mine off CDJapan. It's still available if you want a copy.
Size: A4
Pages: 160
2400 yen
Purchased at
: CDJapan

Peace out,


  1. Deadbeat mom, she has four manga XDDD The best one (and incidentally the one that pic is from) is called Adekan. It's pretty good storywise in that it can be funny as f**k at times but the star is the art, naturally.

    1. I might add that, funnily enough, I didn't know she did artbooks XP so yeah thanks to this review and my proclivity for Adekan, I'm gonna try and pick this up. As a person who has no desire to do art (outside of crochet), I can appreciate this beauty without envy~

    2. I think it's still in stock at CDJapan. Now that you mention it, I must read Adekan. Funny as f**k speaks to me. It speaks to me good.

  2. Best art book ever? I'd recommend Kazuaki Artworks and Foo Midori's Book of Pictures... Maybe you'll change your mind. ;)

    I'm seriously considering buying this one, as I love Nao Tsukiji's works, but I'm not too fond of the way that the excessive detail sometimes hampers movement and obscures the figure. I guess it's an essential element of her style, but even so, she does have an excellent grasp of anatomy and posing, so she should show it off a little more. Adekan's a great example of that! Although be warned; it's pretty much borderline-BL with serious innuendo. Read it anyway; it's wonderful!

    Just some questions... Is the printing quality good? I'm a bit worried about the sketchier works.

    1. Thanks for reading! You've just reminded me how behind I am in reviewing my artbooks. I have both Kazuaki Artworks and Midori Foo's Book of Pictures in my collection, and both rank among my favourite artbooks ever (oh hey, we're on the same wavelength - how awesome is that?). Nevertheless, I find Nao Tsukiji's work leaves a greater impression on me overall. ;)

      The print quality in this book is top-notch, although many pictures retain the pencil-like consistency of the Tsukiji's style. The paper quality is excellent as well. It's thicker than the paper in both Kazuaki's and Foo's books. In the end, it may be less a question of quality than whether you enjoy the innate sketchiness of the pieces. To put things in perspective, the picture with the ascending girls (second last in this review) is one of the roughest works in the book, and looks grainy despite the book's admirable print quality.

      If you're thinking of getting this book, I say go for it. It looks a lot better in person than in photos. Despite only knowing you through this brief correspondence, I don't think you'll be disappointed. =D

      (Oh yes, now that you've mentioned almost-BL with serious innuendo, I'll have to seriously look into Adekan. Nothing is more delicious, really.)

      All the best,

  3. Ah you lucky person; I envy you. :) I'm currently thinking about buying Book of Pictures, but you've convinced me to grab Nostalgia as well. Sketchiness is no problem, if it's part of her style, I was just worried about pixelation. Reassuring to know that it's all fine!

    Hmm, would you recommend any other art books? Since we both have similar tastes. XD

    You must try out Adekan! You can't go past it if you're a fan of Tsukiji's works; there's the same overwhelming level of detail that characterizes everything she draws. Plus the plot and themes are good but sometimes dark (Adekan focuses on murder mysteries) and... Well, it's the kinkiest thing I've ever read. Really. You haven't seen fanservice until you've tried Adekan.

    It's a bit hard to find, though, as it's nowhere near as popular as it ought to be... Volumes 1 to 3 should be scanlated online, but there aren't any officially released English volumes, which is disappointing.

    I should be thanking you for the review! :)

    1. Artbook wise, nothing really tops Tsukiji, Foo and Kazuaki, but I also find all of Shunya Yamashita's collections to be quite visually stunning, especially if you like curvy girls in colourful, unique costumes. I'm also a big fan of Yusuke Kozaki's KYMG, although his style is completely unlike any of the artists previously mentioned. And of course, Huke's BLK is an epitome of grundge-style goodness.

      If you're going for more series-specific artbooks, try Shigenori Soejima Art Works 2004-2010 (Persona series), and Tegami Bachi Illustrations Shine (Letter Bee). There are so many more awesome artbooks out there, but these are the ones that come to mind immediately.

      Oh yes, and Adekan. Shiro, you troll, you. <3


  4. Thanks so much for the recommendations!

    But wow... Such similar tastes. Soejima's art book was my most recent purchase, and I'd also been looking into Hiroyuki Asada's Water. Wow. XD

    (Really, it was Soejima's beautiful art which got me obsessed with Persona in the first place! He's got such a distinctive, clean style. Cannot wait till P5, btw.)

    Oooh, liking Adekan so far? Haha, Shiro is such a tease... Have you met Anri yet?

    1. No problem, always glad to help.

      I ploughed through all 4 volumes of Adekan the other day. I'm digging the storyline and characters (and the art, of course). The mermaid chapter was absolutely stunning.