Book Review: Art of Mana

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I'm actually a big fan of the game Secret of Mana (1993) and Trials of Mana (1995), more specifically Seiken Densetsu 2 and Seiken Densetsu 3. These are just two of the many games from the Mana series. I love the designs for the characters, creatures and environment.

This large format 208-page artbook is a concept art collection for all the games from the Mana series. This is the English edition translated and published by Dark Horse in 2020. The original Japanese edition 聖剣伝説 25th Anniversary ART of MANA was published in 2018.

And since there are so many games in this series, each game only has a few pages of coverage. It's difficult to see how each game can be covered more substantially without making the book several times bigger. Unfortunately, there aren't many individual art books released for the games so this is the only artbook where you can see most of the Mana art.

The concept art consist of hand drawn coloured illustrations. There are no pixel art from the earlier games or in-game screenshots. Bulk of the art are character and creature designs, with occasional splash art. The captions included are brief descriptions on the character designs.

It's definitely quite nostalgic to look at the concept art. The first illustration in the book is from Hiroo Isono and shows the Seiken Densetsu 2 characters standing in front of the huge mana tree. When I first saw this image as a kid, I was mesmerised by the scene and the world building. There are five such illustrations including a map from that game.

I didn't play the other games so I don't have any connection to them. Over the years, I just felt the character designs are becoming more generic except for the iconic Elementals. The art is good and if you've play many of the games, you'll probably enjoy this book more.

The book ends with a 5-page interview with director Koichi Ishii and producer Hiromichi Tanaka, who are also both designers for the game.


This book was borrowed from Basheer Graphic Books for review purposes. You can order the book from them. Check with Basheer on Facebook.

is available at Amazon (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | AU | JP | CN)

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This book was borrowed from Basheer Graphic Books for review purposes. You can order the book from them. Check with Basheer on Facebook.

I still don't understand why they refused to export that game series.

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