Ever wanted to be able to review the art of the main characters and monsters from the Dragon Quest franchise in detail and at leisure? Or maybe love the Dragon Quest games and want to get to know more about them? Then this book is the perfect choice! Dragon Quest Illustrations is a fairly comprehensive collection of finished art, sketches, and even unused art for playable characters, non-player characters, and monsters over the lifetime of this franchise.

Dragon Quest Illustrations is part of the 30th anniversary celebration of the Dragon Quest games; as such, it contains art and illustrations from all of the games, from the very first to the most recent. The book is thorough in its coverage, as it also includes illustrations from the spin-off games, not just the main series. Content is organized chronologically, and within that the spin-offs (so the spin-off games that came out around Dragon Quest VII come after Dragon Quest VII in the book). There is thankfully a table of contents page to make it easier to jump to different games’ art as needed, because it can be hard to tell where one game begins and another ends in the early generations, other than the text at the bottom of each page stating the game.

For those interested, the start of each game’s section has package art and any promotional art, as well as what systems (computer, video game console, or handheld console) it came out for and what the title was for that release. Otherwise, there’s not a lot of text in the book, aside from the introduction by Akira Toriyama, a brief section discussing the art of each game, and a closing message from game designer Yuji Horii. This is truly an art book, focusing on the images and not discussion. The analysis section rarely devotes more than a paragraph or two to each game generation, though it has some notes of interest for fans of the games and discussion of how the art changes over time.

The book itself is quite sturdy, being a hardbound edition with lovely endpapers in a chess pattern design that has silhouettes of monsters in each square. However, because the cover is primarily white, it will show wear and tear very quickly. Dragon Quest Illustrations is not an unusually sized book, if compared to graphic novels or other art books, which tend to be larger, so it will fit fairly easily on the shelf. There is also an attached poster in the front, so that would need to be removed before circulation and possibly given to the youth services or teen librarian to then distribute or hang in their area of the library. It does have a condensed history of the package art on the back of the poster, but it is very likely to get torn or torn out, so might just be best to remove it.

However, is it worth adding to the collection? I’m not sure. It’s truly an art book, so for students of video game/character design it could be useful, and as a retrospective of Toriyama’s art over the years it has merit (particularly for fans of his work), but other than that it’s a pretty narrow group this book will appeal to, unless the population contains a lot of Dragon Quest fans. It might be worth looking into whether video game art books circulate well or if there’s a demand for such items that has been overlooked.

Dragon Quest Illustrations: 30th Anniversary Edition
By Akira Toriyama
Art by Akira Toriyama
ISBN: 9781974703906
VIZ Media, 2018
NFNT Age Recommendation: Middle Grade (7-11), Tween (10-13), Teen (13-16)

  • Shannan

    | She/They Teen Services Librarian, San Antonio Public Library

    Features Writer

    Shannan waffled between English professor and librarian as career choices for all of college; eventually librarian won. She is a Teen Services Librarian with the San Antonio Public Library. When not running TTPRG games for their teens or teaching them how to bake, she's doing what she can to promote comics to anyone who will listen. At home they're likely deep in the middle of their latest cosplay project or watching B movies with her husband, while generally pushing the cats out of the way.

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