20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
The Sky is overhead. It's gorgeous...,
This review is from: The Sky: The Art of Final Fantasy Slipcased Edition (Hardcover)
For the series' 25th anniversary, Square-Enix released a flurry of Final Fantasy merchandise ranging from arrangement albums to perfumes. One of the centerpieces of the celebration was a reprint of Yoshitaka Amano's artbook set, "The Sky". This lavish boxset was quickly sold out in Japan back in 2001, and fans worldwide would have to resort to paying steep import prices to get their hands on it. Ironically, the first worldwide release of this set was limited to 1000 copies, leaving many without a copy. Amano signed each set, so even this second printing is quite expensive. Third time's a charm, however, and the 2013 edition has finally reached patiently waiting fans.
The wait was well worth it. "Slipcased edition" is a misnomer; the box is actually covered with a nice cloth fabric and has embossed lettering. There's no easily damaged cardboard junk here. A small ribbon is attached to a magnetic opening, revealing the goodies inside. They have that "chemical smell" common to new Chinese printed books, but it's easy enough to let them air out a bit.
As for the books themselves, I couldn't be happier to say they are nothing short of wonderful. The first book (FFI-FFIII) feels like a humble beginning, displaying Amano's skill at creating monsters and iconic heroes. He takes it up a notch with book two (FFIV-FFVI), with page after page featuring delightful watercolor paintings and character art. I assume Square was paying him well in the early 90s, because this is the thickest book of the lot. Book three (FFVII-X) features much less artwork, mostly because he was relegated to the status of promotional illustrator and no longer main designer, in addition to being busy with his solo exhibition in New York at the time. However, the third book is definitely intriguing. Amano experiments with printmaking on FFVII, and refines his work in the medium on FFVIII. Much like the game, Amano backtracks to traditional roots on FFIX. Surprisingly, he takes a 180-degree turn again on FFX, where most of the artwork is in a dark and sketchy style. In short, it seems every piece used for promoting the games is here, except for a few that I noticed were absent (i.e: Amano's pieces for EGM Magazine, and the FFX prototype logo).
On the technical side, the paper is good quality, however some of the pieces (maybe 10 or so) exhibit grittiness or blur. It could be the source files, or the art itself, but it doesn't happen enough to be a real concern. I do regret missing out on the small flipbook and "All About Amano" interview book that were not included in this reprint, although I would not pay the appalling prices people are charging for the limited printing. Despite this, The Sky is the easiest and most affordable way to add to your collection of Amano or Final Fantasy.
For a more pleasant viewing experience, I recommend pouring your beverage of choice, the soundtrack of your favorite game on the speakers, and letting "The Sky" do the rest of the work. Welcome to the fantasy.