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Aoi Nishimata Illustrations – Vivid

August 29, 2011 By: Nopy Category: Artbooks

Many of you already know that I’m a big fan of Aoi Nishimata, so it should come as no surprise that when preorders for her Vivid artbook came up, my credit card was already out of my wallet. Aoi Nishimata is a female artist who has worked on characters for visual novels including Shuffle!, Ore-tachi ni Tsubasa wa Nai, Final Approach, Tick! Tack!, and Really? Really!

Released back in December 2010 by Kadokawa Shoten, Vivid is a collection of Aoi Nishimata’s illustrations stretching back to 2001. The book contains 144 pages, mostly of full colour illustrations, a bargain for 3000 yen.

Vivid comes with one very exquisite dust jacket. I don’t think I need to describe now gorgeous the dust jacket is, just look at it yourself. The gold lettering in the title gives it a sense of sophistication, and the red string tied to the girl’s finger actually runs through the entire book (a very nice touch in my opinion).

The actual front and back covers of the book are more simple, with a checkered pink/white pattern and Aoi Nishimata’s trademark cats. You’ll also notice that the book is hardcover, which helps protect the pages.

The first illustration is an extremely large (poster-size) fold out of a beautiful woman in her wedding gown. I should point out that this isn’t an actual poster, it’s meant to stay in the book. The paper used is very thick and heavy, this book was made to last.

On the reverse side is a bikini girl more suited for a dakimakura cover.

Now we get into the actual book. As I mentioned earlier, the red string from the dust jacket goes through the book, and the first instance is on a piece of wax paper protecting the inside cover illustration.

Here is the illustration without the wax paper in front. Hearts and flowers are major themes in Aoi Nishimata’s works, so this is an excellent introductory illustration.

On the second page is a blue variant of the same image that was on the dust jacket. Before I go any further, I should mention that Aoi Nishimata is famous for “recycling” her illustrations, just look at the gif below.

Is that a bad thing? No, I think it is done intentionally because it works. If you have a style that people like (even if it’s just the same face), then stick with it, even variants of the same thing can look completely different, which we will see later.

The book is split into 5 different sections: Colorful, Rouge, Cerulean, Scarlet, and Peach. The illustrations in each section are mainly the colour of their title (ie: rouge = red, cerulean = blue, etc.) and I will be going through them in order.

I felt like including this image because I liked the girls from Ore-tachi ni Tsubasa wa Nai.

Here is an illustration of the girls from Shuffle Essence+. If you look closely at Kaede’s dress, you’ll notice that the pattern on it doesn’t change at the folds. This is one of the unique aspects about Aoi Nishimata’s illustrations, patterns on clothing are never broken by folds or layers. You could argue that it’s being lazy, but I find the patterns actually draw your attention to the clothing more if they’re unbroken.

Here is an excellent example of Aoi Nishimata “recycling” an image to make something even better. Besides the colour contrast, subtle changes like the facial expression and flower petals make it look like two different girls rather than a mirror image.

Like I said, flowers are a major theme in Aoi Nishimata’s illustrations.

While I don’t like finding fault with one of my favourite artists, I can’t deny that there aren’t any. Aoi Nishimata draws beautiful girls and beautiful dresses, but comparitively, her skill at drawing hands and clear liquids is horrid (but still better than anything I could do). The girl on the right holding the wine glass shows both of Aoi Nishimata’s weak points. Fingers are often deformed and/or disproportionate, and liquids never seem to refract light properly.

Primula is probably one of Aoi Nishimata’s most-drawn characters, probably because she loves cats too.

These are some of the older illustrations that Aoi Nishimata has done. I remember having a couple of them on my computer before the great hard drive failure of 2003. Since then, Aoi Nishimata’s style has changed to include more attention-grabbing dresses and detailed backgrounds.

Here is another colour variation illustration. The thing they are holding is a heart. One of the downsides of this book and many others is that there is no white space left between the binding and the start of the images. This means that illustrations spanning two pages will always have a section through the middle that you will never see.

You can probably guess that we’re in the cerulean section of the book now.

The red string continues its way through the book. Looking at it now, I think it’s supposed to connect all of the “princesses” in the book.

The scarlet section of the book featured a number of illustrations from the visual novel Really? Really!

It’s not often you see cat girls in Aoi Nishimata’s illustrations. I love how she made the tails and ears look furry rather than solid. In the same illustration, you can also see the obvious difference in size between the fingers on the blonde’s left and right hands.

I had to include this illustration because I simply love Kaede, and I think her bikini’s cute. Unfortunately, it appears Aoi Nishimata’s struggle with fingers also applies to feet.

Some of you may recognize this illustration from the Maid Cookie review I did a while back.

More colour variants.

The final illustration is a princess with the red string tied to her finger. There is also a message here, but I have no clue what it says.

After flipping through Vivid several times, I have to say that it is one of the most impressive artbooks I own. The book itself was assembled with quality in mind, and the sheer number of illustrations made me feel like it was money well spent. Aoi Nishimata may not be a perfect artist, but her character designs and magnificent use of colour more than make up for the areas where she lacks. I think Vivid is worth getting even just for the princess illustrations with the red string. They are definitely the highlight of the book and the way it ties all of the sections together was very creative.

If you’re interested, the book is still in stock at Hobby Search.

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17 Comments to “Aoi Nishimata Illustrations – Vivid”

  1. I don’t think recycling her illustrations is a bad idea at all. I thought it was pretty smart. It goes to show that by using different styles and colors, an illustration could very well be another character.

    What you’ve got there is really a gorgeous book. I could stare at it all day.
    Hoshiko recently posted..The Most Interesting Character This Summer!

  2. I’m okay wi recycling if it keeps what works but I’m an understand why people would voice about it be ause it might mean that the artist is done really doing new stuff but instead just being lazy.

    But it’s a very nice book! I like it!
    Dreaming artemis recently posted..Magical girl lyrical Nanoha: Takamachi Nanoha school uniform by Alter

  3. @Hoshiko:
    Done right, a reused illustration can look completely different. I think I’ve spent several hours flipping through this book.

    @Dreaming artemis:
    I agree, if it still looks great, then I’m all for it.

  4. A hardcover book thats really nice.

    Some of her characters look very pretty, on the other hand a few look quite similar in terms of faces, Im not talking about the variation illustrations and “mirror” illustrations, these are really beautiful. Are there more like the 2 in this book?

    I don’t know the artist very well, but I guess I like her chibi characters more like the one from maid cookie.

  5. Wow a fellow Aoi nishimata fan, ever since you posted the biscuit post a few months ago, i was suprised to see another fan of her, since she isnt that popular ^^

    anyway great fan of her, have nearly all her visual novel from project navel, and lovely book illustration that you have =)×340.jpg
    i have that in b2 size poster, georgous illustration.

    Great buy, so worth it!
    fabricerequin recently posted..Working’!!

  6. @wieselhead:
    The faces on Aoi Nishimata’s characters do look the same, but I like it. There are quite a few of those mirror illustrations, but I didn’t take pictures of all of them.

    I’ve been a fan of her work since the early 2000’s when I started collecting anime pictures online. The only visual novel I have that she worked on is Shuffle. Everything else is still in Japanese so I can’t read it, but I have seen all of the anime based on them.

    You’re so lucky to have a poster of that illustration, was that custom-printed or did you buy it somewhere?

  7. I really admire Nishimata’s work, especially for the visual novels like Shuffle. Wish I had time to get around to more visual novels though with her style involved rather than settling for the anime versions.

    Truly a worthy purchase and great bargain.
    tsurugiarashix recently posted..[Impression] Carnival Phantasm Episode 4

  8. Lovely artbook. I don’t mind the character recycling at all, I think they’re all quite nice. ^^

    Any figure versions of these characters?
    Xine recently posted..Hey Hey Thursday #01 – Zettai Ryouiki and Twintails

  9. recycling must save a lot of time as well.

  10. Lovely artbook! I’ve been a big fan of Aoi Nishimata for a while now ever since I saw some of his art in another artbook. Love how clean and detailed his works are.

    I think this is probably my favorite spread here.

    Anyway, as for recycling character faces, I don’t think it’s a bad thing or a big deal. Most artists have a certain style, and if it looks good and works, then it should be OK. The clothes, hair, and styling are enough to set chars apart.
    Yi recently posted..Sengoku Otome ~Momoiro Paradox~ Review

  11. @tsurugiarashix:
    I know what you mean. I just get the CG art from the visual novels since I can’t read Japanese. It’s just as good if you’re just admiring the art.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think Nishimata’s illustrations have gotten a figure yet. I hope they do one day.

    Probably, the line art is already there so all you need to do is recolour it.

    I thinking having your own style plays a large part in it too. If each character looked completely different, it would be hard to tell which artist drew them.

  12. This is a really nice artbook, especially for Aoi Nishimata fans. It’s cool being able to recognize some of the characters from various Navel Visual Novels.

    Something I find difficult at first when seeing new characters by Aoi Nishimata is identifying who’s who. I think Ore-tachi ni Tsubasa wa Nai anime was a prime example of this where it took so long to distinguish each of the girls. It’s not until you begin to watch them that you can pick them apart. Navels’ latest VN suffers from this too, Sekai Seifuku Kanojo. It’s rather difficult to read the girls personality from their appearance – something that’s easier done with other artists.

    It feels a bit odd though not seeing Hiro Suzuhiras’ illustrations beside the Shuffle girls. It’s a shame we don’t see the two together as often anymore.

    Nice to see the biscuit maid illustration in here.
    BioToxic recently posted..Blanc Neige Swimsuit ver. by Kotobukiya

  13. @BioToxic:
    It is rather difficult identifying new characters since they all have the same face. I had trouble with Ore-tachi ni Tsubasa wa Nai too, there were too many girls being introduced in too short of a timeframe.

    Aoi Nishimata and Hiro Suzuhira made a good pair, I wish they would release an artbook together someday.

  14. Beautiful artbook!

    You know me and how I would feel about recycling images. I personally believe the for your art to look interesting, it should never look the same. I get the whole idea of being identified based on your art style, but I think this goes a bit too far when they look identical. Even Tony Taka’s characters, while they have the same style, don’t look the same.

    I love the gif though. It totally captures the essence of the concept. It’s like Akira Toriyama syndrome.
    Radiant recently posted..Happy Birthday Miku!

  15. @Radiant:
    I can understand not liking to recycle images as it does feel a bit lazy. On the other hand, I just love that face, so I’m fine with it.

  16. Beautiful artworks, I think my favorite is the Primula in goth lolita attire. I don’t think recycling images is a bad thing in this case, they’re done so well that you can’t really complain. Crazy gif is crazy though xD
    Persocom recently posted..Busou Shinki Moon Angel

  17. @Persocom:
    Primula is pretty cute, I think Nishimata puts a bit more detail whenever she draws her.


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