FUJISHIMA Kousuke Illustration Book: Ah! My Goddess 1988-2008

FUJISHIMA Kousuke Illustration Book: Ah! My Goddess 1988-2008
藤島康介 画集 「ああっ女神さまっ」 1988-2008
FUJISHIMA Kousuke Gashuu: Aa Megami-sama 1988-2008

REVIEW

FUJISHIMA Kousuke Illustration Book: Ah! My Goddess 1988-2008In many ways, it is hard to believe that Ah! My Goddess has been around for around twenty-two years as of this posting. When I got into anime in 2002, the five episode Ah! My Goddess (named “Oh My Goddess” by AnimEigo) OVA was one of the first titles I saw. I loved that little anime and when folks told me, “You’ve got to read the manga if you want to know the real story,” naturally I did just that, buying the then first eight books that Dark Horse had released (and being a noob, I had no clue back then that the books were domesticated, the art flipped, but I had just learned that the real English title of the manga was “Ah! My Goddess” not “Oh My Goddess” as AnimEigo and Dark Horse called it). I loved the manga and have been reading it ever since.

Which brings me to 2008. I knew that to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Ah! My Goddess, a large art book would be released in Japan. I wanted that book very badly, but thanks to terrible economic issues, I had to put off purchasing it until now.

Was it worth the wait?

Yes.

If there is one thing that Fujishima-sensei is known for, it is his detailed and beautiful artwork. His character designs have changed quite dramatically over the years (as you’ll see in a bit), but throughout the years, his attention to detail has made him one of the supreme manga-ka in terms of illustrations.

As is traditional with most Japanese paperbacks, this large illustration paperback (11.6 x 8.4 x 0.7 inches) has its regular cover, which features Belldandy from 1980 on the front and Belldandy from 2008 on the back, as well as its dust cover, which is a single image wherein Belldandy is on the front while Skuld and Urd take up the back.

FUJISHIMA Kousuke Illustration Book: Ah! My Goddess 1988-2008FUJISHIMA Kousuke Illustration Book: Ah! My Goddess 1988-2008FUJISHIMA Kousuke Illustration Book: Ah! My Goddess 1988-2008
The book is broken down into sections. After a reprint of the cover art without text, we get three non-color illustrations of Belldandy, Urd, and Skull respectively. These are printed on a cloudy kind of sheet with a heavy, colored page behind it, thus giving it a feel almost like an anime cell.

FUJISHIMA Kousuke Illustration Book: Ah! My Goddess 1988-2008
The first true section is called “In Goddess We Trust” (yes, the book uses English). Belldandy, Skuld, and Urd are the primary subjects, though Peorth does show up a bit. The art in this section is further divided into subsections with the first four images being the ones you’ve seen before of the goddesses and their angels (used as book covers if I’m not mistaken). Then there are images of the goddesses at different times of day, the goddesses with nature and animals, the goddesses with wings, and finally portraits, where Chihiro also shows up. The portrait of Skuld has never made her look so lovely. ^_^ Several of these pieces were new to me, which made it all the better.

FUJISHIMA Kousuke Illustration Book: Ah! My Goddess 1988-2008
The next section is entitled “Goddesses in Spectrum Part 1.” This is a short section printed on much thinner paper and has some drawings from the manga with Belldandy, Skuld, Urd, and Peorth (though Keiichi and World of Elegance show up as well). These are stylized with color.

FUJISHIMA Kousuke Illustration Book: Ah! My Goddess 1988-2008
In the third section, titles “Cover Arts for ‘Afternoon’,” we are given the color art Fujishima-sensei has used over the years to grace the covers of various publications of Afternoon, the magazine that publishes the monthly Ah! My Goddess manga chapters. Most of these I was familiar with but a couple were new to me. This section does give a feel for just how Fujishima-sensei’s character designs changed over 20-years.

FUJISHIMA Kousuke Illustration Book: Ah! My Goddess 1988-2008
The fourth chapter is called “Various Memories” and starts out by printing the full page color artwork, many of which I believe Dark Horse used for the covers of their flipped editions of the manga. The chapter ends with some half-sized character color art, none of which I remember (some of this came from the initial color page of the early tankoubon volumes), before going into a few pages of sketches, none of which I’d seen before.

“Artworks from the Trade Paperback Edition” is the name of the fifth chapter. As you might expect, this features the art from the Japanese tankoubon releases. So, we get the front dustcover art (the actual front page art of the tankoubon is just a black-and-white version of the dustcover), the rear dustcover art (black-and-white version on the actual back cover), and the color art for the dustcover flaps. This is by far the biggest section since it takes two pages to get each of the thirty-seven volumes done.

FUJISHIMA Kousuke Illustration Book: Ah! My Goddess 1988-2008
Looking through, I see that around volume 10 is where I found Fujishima-sensei’s character designs to be the best. That’s not to say that his current character designs aren’t good, because for Paradise Residence or even new characters introduced into Ah! My Goddess, the characters look fine. It is just that Belldandy, Urd, and Skuld looked the best to me around volume 10.

The sixth chapter is “Goddesses in Spectrum Part 2” where again we return to some of the big drawings featured in the mange, only stylized with color. As before, this section contains the thinner paper, the rest of the manga being printed on high quality, heavy duty paper.

For the seventh chapter, titled “Editors’ Choice,” a selection of manga pages (or some two-page spreads done without the binder break) are shown, both color and black-and-white.

FUJISHIMA Kousuke Illustration Book: Ah! My Goddess 1988-2008
The eighth chapter is part of the reason the book needs to be licensed for a U.S. release as it contains a lengthy interview with Fujishima-sensei.

FUJISHIMA Kousuke Illustration Book: Ah! My Goddess 1988-2008
The book closes out with an illustrated index, citing where each piece of art was originally published. That’s the other reason for wanting a U.S. release.

There are two downsides to this book. The first is that there are several two-page art spreads which are ruined by their going into the binding. For an art book, it seems to me that the logical thing to do would be to have a 2-page fold out so that the artwork can be viewed as a single piece and without it getting lost as the page goes into the binding. So, if Dark Horse decides to pick up this monster of a book, I hope they’ll keep that in mind.

FUJISHIMA Kousuke Illustration Book: Ah! My Goddess 1988-2008
The other is that none of Fujishima-sensei’s technical art for vehicles or cityscapes are used. The book focuses almost exclusively on characters, which is fine, but I would have loved for there to have been a chapter on some of the other stuff too.

At a price of ¥3048 (~$34.27 as of the day I actually wrote this) and with shipping more than doubling that cost if you go through Amazon (I went through Sasuga and it wasn’t so severe), this book won’t be for everyone. However, if you are a fan of Ah! My Goddess and you like Fujishima-sensei’s art, I think you’ll find that for a paperback coffee table book, it is worth it.

  • ISBN-10: 406364751X
  • ISBN-13: 978-4063647518
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10 Responses to “FUJISHIMA Kousuke Illustration Book: Ah! My Goddess 1988-2008”

  1. O-chan says:

    Chances of Dark Horse printing this…pretty damn likely…after like an 8 year wait…

  2. AstroNerdBoy says:

    *lol* Like “Colors?” ^_~

    I’ll be reviewing that sometime down the road since I own both the Japanese and Dark Horse releases.

  3. 2DT says:

    Looks lovely. Thanks for the review.

  4. AstroNerdBoy says:

    You’re welcome. ^_^

  5. Anonymous says:

    I’d been wondering about this book. I love OMG so I’d love to have this book now that I’ve read your words.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for this final push to set me off and start bidding on Ebay.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Hi!
    Can you say if the cover of vol. 12 that Belldandy is in a yellow machine with the orange back is in this book?

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