Cowboy Bebop Illustrations: The Wind
When anime fans truly love a show, they want to get their hands on anything they can that has the title on it, such as DVDs, soundtracks, posters, cels, plushies, or if you're like me, even clocks. Another common genre of product that people try to get a hold of is art books, although this is often quite difficult. One thing that most people will say about anime is that they love the art. Everyone can appreciate the unique look of anime and the incredible animation that you see in almost every show. That alone makes art books a great item for every fan to own.
Cowboy Bebop has put out a few books in the past, but most have been difficult to come by, or they lack any sort of art from the show, or they are entirely in Japanese, thus turning off a lot of non-Japanese fans. Recently, Cowboy Bebop Illustrations: The Wind has become available and fans of Cowboy Bebop should be rejoicing. Personally speaking, this is something that I've been waiting for a long time.
The book is divided into four different sections: the planning stage, the TV series, goods and packaging, and the movie. This shows off a nice progression of the show, and it makes things very clear when you're looking at them. You know exactly where the picture's place in the show is and it's just nice to know that when looking through the book. The planning stage shows off the progression of the character designs from very early sketches to the finished product. You get to see some really neat drawings of the first concepts of the characters and even what the original colors were going to be. Fans will love being able to see some of the first ideas, like how Faye at first was going to wear a sexy Chinese dress. After the planning stage, it moves into the TV series. This is where we get a look at a lot of posters drawn for the TV series, and there is a very large selection of pictures drawn for magazines in Japan. From there is the goods and packaging section, in which the covers of DVDs, soundtracks and the like are shown and explained. Lastly is the movie section, which is basically the same as the TV series in terms of content.
The Wind has a lot going for it that you normally don't get in other art books. For one thing it's big. There are 143 large pages, with basically every single one having one or more incredible looking pieces of art from Cowboy Bebop. Another great thing is that all of these pictures, except some of the early character designs, are in color. I've seen a decent amount of art books, and it's hard to find ones with color, not to mention being entirely in color. For me, this adds to the value of the book. One of the main reasons to buy an art book is to look at some great art, which you will certainly get in this book.
Lastly and probably the best thing that this art book has going for it is the fact that the descriptions for all of the pictures are translated in English. You have the actual character design artist for Cowboy Bebop, Toshihiro Kawamoto talking about all of the pictures in the book that he drew. You get tons of interesting little tidbits about the show, reasons for why something looks a certain way, and some general information about Cowboy Bebop. I already mentioned about Faye's early dress, but you will also learn why Ein is a Welsh Corgi, the reasons behind the covers for the DVDs, facts about the poster of Faye that you have on your wall right now, and even little factoids, such as how Toshihiro Kawamoto always seemed to want to never show the full face of the characters. If just the great number of brilliant pictures from Cowboy Bebop weren't enough, then the descriptions from the actual character designer should drive any Cowboy Bebop fan crazy. Cowboy Bebop is my favorite anime, and when I finally received this in the mail, I was reduced to a giddy little fanboy, overjoyed by getting a new piece of swag from his favorite show.
The book also includes two little extras. You get a small poster in the front of the book and a postcard. Though I probably won't be removing the poster or using the postcard, I was glad to see these extras included, because more of Cowboy Bebop is always better.
Even though getting a book like this helped to re-introduce me to my favorite show, and it gave me the same excited feeling that Cowboy Bebop gave me at first, it isn't perfect. One of the noticeable things about the book that will turn a few people off is the price. I was able to find it for thirty-two dollars. If you're a big fan, it might be worth it. As far as art books go, it's on the higher end, but they can be more expensive. One other thing that I was actually pretty mad about is that the interviews with Shinichiro Watanabe (director), Yoko Kanno (Music), Keiko Nobumoto (Script, Screenplay), Koichi Yamadera (voice actor for Spike), and Masahiko Minami (Producer) were not translated. I don't see why they would spend the time to translate all of the captions by the pictures for over a hundred pages, but then leave out the interviews. They were short and only two pages altogether, but I would have loved to see them translated. Lastly, almost all of the pictures for the TV series and movie sections are either posters or drawings commissioned by magazine publications. Though this was still great and I expected to see this, I would have loved to see some pictures taken from the show or movie and explained in detail. You get only a handful of images laid out like this, and I would have really enjoyed seeing the artists' take on a few scenes.
I could not begin to say just how excited I was when The Wind finally arrived. I've always wanted an art book of Cowboy Bebop, and when I found this one I knew it was for me. This item, however, may not be for everyone. Due to its high price tag and focus on material that you didn't see in the show, only die-hard fans of the series might be looking up this one. Even with that mentioned, I'd still highly recommend this to any Cowboy Bebop fan or fans of great-looking art.