For once I have a new item to show! I’ve managed to get my hands on a copy of the English version of The Sky by Amano. It has just been released in the West although this was first released in Japan back in 2001. There is little difference between the two versions except for two things: the language – one is Japanese and the other English, and the Western version includes a hand signed card by the legend himself – Yoshitaka Amano!
- Book 1: Final Fantasy I, II, III
- Book 2: Final Fantasy IV, V, VI
- Book 3: Final Fantasy VII, VIII, IX, X
- Book 4: All About Yoshitaka Amano
- Book 5: The Sky Premium Flipbook
- Two Postcards (Bartz & Terra)
- One clear sheet with an illustration etched in silver (see the photos – this is really hard to explain)
- One hand signed card (1 in 1000)
This is probably the best piece of Final Fantasy merch I have ever brought. Amano is my favourite artist so to have a whole boxset of his work is too much for words! Not only is it pure awesome, it was also limited to 1000 copies so if you see one for sale don’t hesitate to snap it up!
I have photographed a hell of a lot of the set although have mainly focused on book 3 which includes work from VII-X. The reason for this is that the majority of key art for these games are CGI shots which I am not as fond of. I found the VIII pieces breathtaking – I don’t think I had ever seen Amano’s version of Squall and Rinoa so these were fantastic. I feel like X is a real change of art style too so I have photographed the whole section of X.
I will make a little note about the amount of content each game has received because they are very disproportional. I, II and III are fairly even in my opinion. Amano was heavily involved in the design of I in particular and you can see a lot of the enemies and environments. IV has little art compared with V and VI, and VI in particular has a hefty amount. Amano’s favourite characters are Tina (Terra in the Western games) and Mog so expect several images of these two. All the other characters have many illustrations too. VII is extremely heavy on Cloud and Aerith. Red and Sephiroth make some appearances too and there is one of Tifa but most of the remaining cast barely get a look in. VIII is even more limited, focusing completely on Squall, Rinoa and Seifer. There is a group shot of the party and one of Ultimecia but little else. IX however is -extremely- heavy. Not only do we have double pages of each character but several sketches of each are included as well as many scenes. This is a joy for me as VI and IX are two of my favourite of the series! Amano has taken a completely different approach to X and seems to be experimenting with a new art style. I really loved these sketches so much that I have included the whole of X in the photos. There isn’t a great deal for X either and again there is a heavy focus on Yuna and Tidus but the images are fantastic. It should also be noted that VII onwards is very character based (which some environment scenes) whereas pre-VI has a lot more monsters included (but still has many characters images too).
As I have only received the set today I haven’t yet read the book 4 which offers an insight into the artists personal life. Being completely translated in English though I will at some point read through it. I haven’t yet included any photos from inside the book here but I can tell you that it has a variety of things included such as an interview, how he became involved with Final Fantasy and a list of all of his books and artworks.
Book 5 can’t really be considered a book as such but it is lovely nevertheless. It is a very small flip book which has two stories depending on which way you flip it. One is of a moogle as it stumbles around and the other is of a dancing spirit. I have taken photos of both below.
There is not much to comment on regarding the postcards. They both must be favourite pieces of Amano though as the same drawing of Bartz is also used on the front cover of the box and Tina is also used on the inside cover. They are made from card and have a very plain back. It always makes me wonder why postcards are included in sets like this as they clearly will never be used but either way they make lovely prints.
Next is the clear, plastic sheet. This is a very unusual item and I have tried my best to photograph it at the right angle so the silver shows up. It has been suggested to me this artwork could be of Cosmos and now I look back at the image it does resemble her.
Lastly included in this set is the hand signed card. When I first heard about this boxset I assumed Amano’s signature would be printed and just thrown in but no, these sets are limited to 1000 and each card is signed personally. I’ve spoken to others who also have this set and some have had the item signed in black ink, another in red ink but mine is signed in black paint. Amano must have got bored signing so many cards! The sets aren’t actually individually numbered which is a shame but it does say ‘limited to 1000’ on the card.
Sadly XI-XIV aren’t included in the box. I know Amano has been less and less involved with the series post X but I would have loved a minibook including some of the later work. Although in saying this there is no shortage of content in here so don’t let the lack of post XI put you off!
To leave you with one last thought about this collection… These are the last powerful words in book 3…
Look up at the sky…
There must be a fantasy.