Kawaii Manga: Adorable!

Kawaii Manga: Adorable! is a colorful, heavy book that contains a selection of walk-throughs, showing how 22 different images (from 16 artists) were built digitally. They’re all loosely “kawaii”, or super-cute, and manga- or anime-influenced. (Seriously, the thick paper over 350 pages makes for a hefty tome. This isn’t a “carry it around with you” book.)

Kawaii Manga: Adorable! cover

The sections are “Cute Girls”, “Happy Time”, “Sweet Dessert”, “Super Adventure”, and “Magical World”. Each image begins with a short paragraph explaining the character. It reminded me of a pitch book for a licensing meeting, as though the artist was hoping they’d get picked up for a cartoon. The last section finally credits the artists and gives small bios and web links for each, along with additional finished images.

I’m not sure who the audience would be for Kawaii Manga: Adorable!. It’s not a how-to, since the image sequences require a certain amount of knowledge on the reader’s part already, particularly in terms of software tools. It’s far from step-by-step, with big jumps between various stages of the gallery. Yet artists who are familiar with the expert digital techniques required likely can find their own examples online. And although it’s promoted as being about manga art, there are no sequences, just single images.

I feel as though there’s some story behind the volume that I’m not getting. I would have liked more information on how this book was put together, or why the various artists were included. The cover credit says “selected by Eva Minguet”, but I don’t know who that is or on what basis she picked the contributions. Perhaps if I was more into this visual style, I’d recognize some of the names and better understand the thrust of the book. (The publisher provided a review copy.)

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