The Sky: The Art Of Final Fantasy (Slipcased Edition) Review

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“The Sky” is the title of the collection of artworks created by Yoshitaka Amano. Anyone familiar with Final Fantasy’s long history, would know that Amano is one of the key artist for the franchise, covering ten iterations of its success. In 2001, Digicube created the collection, which has three hardcover books and various other pieces unique to the set, but ceased production due to bankruptcy in 2003. The original collection was priced at $600 and has since been sold as high as $1000 on eBay.

In 2011, renowned publisher, Dark Horse, released an English version of “The Sky”, retailing at the price of $139.99 and possessed the same material as the Japanese counterpart. This edition has since sold out. Fortunately, on July 19th, 2013, Dark Horse has released a new Slipcased Edition which only has the three hardcover artbooks, sold at $89.99.

Contrast

In today’s industry standards for game artbooks, we often expect grand environmental canvases and various designs that were attempted to boil down to the final draft. Thumbnails, silhouettes, all concept art had to go through dozens or even hundreds of iterations to steer the direction of material. But for Yoshitaka Amano, that is not the case. Although we could have seen an industrial construction of artwork conceptions, the book takes on a very simple and elegant approach. Varying pieces that could be regarded as worthy of a coffee-table book. And this is not to say that coffee-table books are cheap and not worth noting, it is actually the exact opposite. When an artbook is too engaging to be a reference book, it belongs on a coffee-table to entertain you and guests — and not as a drink coaster.
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Material

Showcasing the various pieces of work done in over a decade, Yoshitaka Amano invests each page with a carefully arranged piece of his work. From the early days of Final Fantasy, to his works in the franchise up to its publishing in 2001. You can see the growth expressed in his work, the investments in trying new approaches, and ultimately that each piece is the work of an artist. Now, I need to clarify this, as today’s concept artists are truly artists, but Amano still emphasizes a very classic paint style that holds no digital implementation as his final piece.

Among the iconic works that Amano has provided in these books, some fans remark that it lacked the material that he created for the MMO, Final Fantasy XI, which many felt was his greatest triumph. In agreement with several others who have reviewed this material, even though Amano’s character designs were nice, his work in the designs for the monsters and summons have often been my favorite. Whether Ifrit, Bahamut, or Shiva, I cannot deny how beautiful these representations are.

One distinct aspect of Amano’s work in the early days of the franchise was the need to distinguish characters from one another. One of the major differences between then and now was the strong color palettes used to differentiate characters from one another. This was done to quickly identify characters when regarded on sight in the 8-bit era. However, beyond the material, you will notice that Amano’s artwork isn’t as prevalent in the franchise in the recent years, primarily seeing his designs in the Final Fantasy logos instead.
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Verdict

If you enjoy beautiful artwork and are a fan of Final Fantasy, I highly suggest picking up Dark Horse’s publishing of “The Sky”. I highly appreciate the fact that they recognized how important of a product this can be for fans of Yoshitaka Amano and the franchise, deserving of a space on the shelves – or a table to share with friends. Although by no means is it something you’ll continuously look at in years to come, it is something that can be appreciated overall and with other fans.

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Jaynesis Ong
Jaynesis Ong 162 posts

He is currently a graphics designer by trade, illustrator for indie games, fashionisto, film production assistant, socialite, sampler of fine music, and taster of various new MMO games. JB likes destructive walks on the beach, visceral plot points, maniacal villains, and collapsing galactic empires.

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