The Tokyo Ghoul franchise, which has steadily raised its own media empire over the past three years, from manga and anime to light novels and film, has amassed a trove of character designs and production art. Tokyo Ghoul Illustrations: zakki, while relatively slim, is a beautiful collection of creator Sui Ishida’s art from across the franchise’s existence. Fans of Tokyo Ghoul and colorful, painterly character art in general will have much to enjoy within this jacketed hardcover’s smooth pages.

The book reads right to left, as per Japanese books, and the cover type for Tokyo Ghoul is broken and dripping (is that a drop of blood in the O?) over a couple of the protagonists’ smiling faces. A paper clip to the side completes the message: this book is a friendly visit to some beloved characters who went through some disturbing events in their series, with documents and messages from Ishida. The ‘zakki’ in the title is Japanese for “miscellaneous notes.”

Artwork is collected according to three categories: color art from each manga volume, illustrations for Young Jump magazine and elsewhere, and additional artwork. Throughout, Ishida provides commentary on the production, reception, or personal reaction to each piece. “Even if I’m engrossed in what I’m drawing, once it’s done, I lose interest. So I don’t usually look back on my art.” While this closing comment from Ishida (there’s no introduction or foreword) may be true, his commentary on all of the preceding pieces of art tell a story of an artist and storyteller who has weathered failure and success on the way to building his series.

The artwork of Tokyo Ghoul in this collection suggests a story full of charismatic, well-dressed, somewhat monstrous young adults whose lives blur horror and affection. The commentary tells a separate story of an overworked artist maneuvering Comic Studio, SAI, Painter, and Flash software in pursuit of deadlines and praise from his editor and his sister. Readers will enjoy learning more about the man behind the stylus. Some pieces he ‘self-rejected’ before developing too far while others went through multiple drafts before completion. Digital carelessness ate more than one illustration—as Ishida puts it, “Digital tools are useful, but sudden crashes are scary.” Save early, save often!

The full-color cover art and chapter pages are gorgeous, reproduced here with clarity and vibrant colors. Smaller pieces whipped up for bookstore promotions and character birthdays carry Ishida’s unmistakable penchant for blurred, painter-like digital brushwork. The only exceptions are a handful of black and white line pieces, including some sketches and a breakdown of a character’s tattoos. The only black and white manga pages are thumbnail samples of a side story he drew without assistants and a couple of four-panel gag comics. Ishida credits inspiration for a couple of pieces from Nakayama Atsushi’s Nejimaki Kagyu and Kazue Kato’s Blue Exorcist.

While none of the 112 pages in this art book contain explicit material or language, there is one spread involving a nude woman drawn in profile inside a glass container. The Tokyo Ghoul manga series is rated T+, so keep that demographic in mind when shelving this title with other art books.

Tokyo Ghoul Illustrations: zakki
by Sui Ishida
ISBN: 9781421596921
Viz, 2017
Publisher Age Rating: N/A

  • Thomas

    | He/Him Teen Services Librarian, Richland Library

    Features Writer

    Thomas is a teen services librarian at Richland Library in Columbia, South Carolina. While studying for his MLIS at the University of South Carolina, he won an award from Thomas Cooper Library for his curation of the works of “God of Manga” Osamu Tezuka. He has spoken about manga, graphic novels, teen programming, and podcasting at NashiCon, DragonCon, ColaCon, New York Comic Con, and American Library Association conferences. He has been on on YALSA’s Great Graphic Novels For Teens selection committee, written articles for Public Libraries, The Hub, Book Riot, and Library Trends, and reviews for School Library Journal and Kirkus.

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