This is MTB’s first artbook review, and we are hoping to provide more reviews in the future on video game based artwork and literature. As we tweak our format, we welcome feedback from our community. Feel free to leave a comment below or contact Jarret directly. I hope you enjoy our first artbook review.
Fans of Shigenori Soejima’s artwork will now be able to get their hands on Persona 3: Official Design Works. Design Works is 144 pages of completed illustrations, preliminary sketches, storyboards, and final designs, along with information and commentary from Soejima. The book ends with a 8000 word (translated) interview with Soejima and the Producer/Director of Persona 3, Katsura Hashino. Within, they discuss the inevitability of death and how it relates to Persona 3. The book is available mainly through comic retailers and Amazon for $39.99.
The review copy received was a digital version, and it troubles me to not be able to offer a reaction to a tangible product. It’s hard to scroll through a digital version of a book and wrap all of your senses around it. The printed book has silver accenting, but I can’t say whether it allows words to be legible, as it appears as a flat gray in the digital version. I can tell you that the art book is printed on high-quality glossy stock paper (the same as the Street Fighter Ultimate Editions, which I own and used for reference). The pages are thick and have a nice feel, without being overly glossy or sticky. The overall dimensions of the book are 8.25″ x 11.75″ x .45″, so finding space for it won’t be difficult.
Design Works is a hard sell for a fan of Persona 3, even as a collector’s item. It being a softcover makes it more of a book to leave out for others to thumb through than something to fill a prominent place on a shelf. While it does have hundreds of new sketches to accompany the artwork, most of the pages will be familiar. If you already have the previously released art books, you already have the majority of these illustrations. The only new, and possibly most interesting, thing is the addition of the character color palettes. Design Works only covers the original Persona 3 released on PlayStation 2, so you won’t be seeing any artwork from Persona 3 Portable. Lastly, if you have played through the game, the revelations within the interview won’t seem that groundbreaking or state anything that you haven’t probably already figured out.
Final Verdict: No need to buy if you own any previously released Persona 3 art books. The only exceptions would be for completionists, and those who like the series but haven’t acquired any of the other books.