World of Disgaea Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Release Date: Thursday, November 30, 2006
Translated by:Koji Tajii, Yoshihiro Watanabe, Satsuki Yamashita
Adapted by:Jason R. Grissom
What They Say
This beautiful full-color, hardcover illustration book features original concept art, sketches, and the lush promotional artwork for the Disgaea video game. Included are interviews with the game designers and voice actors as well as behind the scenes information and game secrets!
Between the top-notch presentation, exquisitely reproduced artwork, and extensive production trivia, serious fans of the original game get a lot of bang for their buck. However, casual fans may be turned off by the book's second half, due to its excessive focus on in-game statistics and the massive number of spoilers.
By and large, the print quality in World of Disgaea is outstanding. Broccoli uses thick, glossy paper throughout the volume; as a result, both text and line art are remarkably sharp, and the vivid colors pop off the page. The hardcover binding is no less classy, featuring a cute action shot of Laharl, Etna, and Flonne (not to mention the obligatory pair of Prinnies) adorning an eye-catching royal blue backdrop. I mean it as a compliment when I say that World of Disgaea wouldn't look out-of-place on the coffee table of a geeky household.
That's not to say that the art is flawless. A small percentage of the artwork, such as many of the character portraits, is sourced directly from in-game sprites. This low-resolution pixel art looks strikingly poor on the printed page when placed side-by-side with the rest of the artwork, and shows signs of artifacting and bleeding around the edges of brightly colored objects. Nevertheless, this pixel art constitutes such a small portion of the artwork that only the most finicky reader will object to their inclusion.
The text generally reads well; but it also features a handful of typos and grammatical mistakes, such as substituting "it's" for "its" in a least one place. While I'm a bit disappointed that these errors escaped the proofreading process, they aren't common or glaring enough to really detract from the presentation as a whole.
Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
It's a little bit of a misnomer to call World of Disgaea an artbook, since its aim is a little broader than that. In fact, only the first 20 pages of the book focus exclusively on artwork. This short art gallery section is split roughly 50/50 between promotional material and in-game assets; gamers who haven't completed Disgaea should be warned that these in-game assets include material from some of the game's many endings. Commentary in this section is restricted to a single page of rough sketch material, which shows the evolution of some of the proposed packaging artwork.
After this brief art gallery, World of Disgaea gradually begins incorporating strategy guide material alongside traditional production details. At the start of the 80-page character guide section, this transition is subtle: each major character is given a profile, a page of colored artwork, one or two pages of rough sketches with translated design notes, and a few small charts highlighting the character's in-game statistics and special attacks. As the characters decrease in importance to the storyline, the strategy guide elements become more prevalent, until the remaining characters are each allocated only a half-page subsection occupied mostly by these statistical charts. Fans of the artwork are somewhat compensated by about 10 pages of enemy sketches at the tail end of this section, but will no doubt feel slighted by much of the character guide's contents.
The transition to a full-on strategy guide is complete by the beginning of the next sections, which respectively highlight the in-game settings, items, storyline, and playing strategies. I'm a little bit puzzled as to whom this material is aimed at. On the one hand, there are discussions of basic weapon, magic, and leveling tactics that don't go any deeper than the in-game tutorials, and would only seem useful to newcomers to the game. On the other hand, these introductory sections are sandwiched in-between complex statistical tables that would likely only appeal to hardcore fans -- not to mention the sections which spoil the storyline or enumerate all attainable endings. You could say that this part of the book has a little bit to offer to fans of all stripes, but the organization is so haphazard that beginners are bound to inadvertently stumble upon spoiler territory.
How much you will enjoy World of Disgaea depends very heavily on how familiar you are with the game, and especially how much you're interested in-game minutiae. Personally, I was underwhelmed by the book's second half, since its heavy focus on raw statistics doesn't do a lot for me. Nevertheless, setting aside the baffling inclusion of rudimentary gameplay tutorials, there's still enough quality material mixed in those latter sections to justify the relatively low purchase price. Many of the backdrops and character art are reproduced in gorgeous detail from high-resolution production materials, and there are a handful of short interviews with the Japanese voice actresses and developers. And I have to admit that the story recap sections, while largely unnecessary, were good for a quick and amusing revisit of Disgaea's tongue-in-cheek storyline.
On the other hand, World of Disgaea is a much harder sale for fans who are entering the Disgaea franchise via the manga or anime series, or who haven't played the game through at least once. While I commend Broccoli for trying to incorporate a broad range of material into a reasonably inexpensive volume, there is not enough artwork here to satisfy non-gamers, and the game-related material focuses so much on statistical data that it can't really supplant a traditional strategy guide.
Mania Grade: NA
Art Rating: N/A
Packaging Rating: A
Text/Translatin Rating: B+
Age Rating: All
Released By: Broccoli Books
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: World of Disgaea