By Josh Speer / August 28th, 2017
While I know there are many camps of the Fire Emblem fandom, I sit in the camp that not only loved the revival of the series with Awakening, but also appreciated the subsequent entries, such as Fates and Echoes. That said, there’s still something comforting about going back to the beginning, so today I’m doing that with The Art of Fire Emblem: Awakening.
Published by Dark Horse and containing 320 pages full to bursting with character art, bios, rough drafts, behind the scene info and much more, it’s a veritable treasure trove of Fire Emblem lore. It’s split into six massive sections (Official Illustration Gallery, Concept Art, Story Event Illustrations, Players’ Voices, Character Profiles and Support Conversations) and each is both beautiful and informative. This fantastic hardcover book is priced at $39.99, which is a pretty fair price considering the wealth of information included (it has EVERY support conversation, for example). But you probably want to see some of the art, right? Let’s take a look!
The book starts out with detailed character bios for all the heroes and villains alike in Fire Emblem: Awakening. These full sized, colored portraits do a great job of conveying the disparate personalities of the characters, from childish macho Vaike, to sultry, sinister Tharja, and everyone in between. I thought this was a great way to start any artbook and get the reader’s attention.
The next section focused more on variations in characters, as well as art for some classic fighters from Fire Emblems of yore. The Character Design section was especially intriguing, showing some early takes on popular characters. While some remained pretty much the same from conception to execution, some were drastically different looking (take a look at Validar and Kjelle below).
For those fascinated by the fine details that go into costumes and weapon design, you’ll absolutely love the next section. While it can be easy to dismiss how much effort goes into designing the weapons you wield, you’ll have a new appreciation for them after looking at the following artwork.
Storyboarding is another intensive process that we only see the end result of. I have a new appreciation for all that hard work after reading the next few pages. Also, if you wanted a reminder of the rosy glow of love, you’ll love the Proposal pages I post next.
The next sections are for those obsessed with the minutiae of fandom. Specifically, several polls were conducted in August of 2012 in Dengeki Online, with questions such as Favorite Male Character, Phrase Which Left Biggest Impression and more. I was surprised by some of the results, as the favorite male character was pretty vanilla, with everybody loving Chrom, followed by Owain at 2nd place and Gaius, Henry and Avatar in 3rd, 4th and 5th respectively. Also fun here are the What If sections, which are comical little stories. Oh and if you want to see every possible way you can customize your Avatar and children, that’s here too.
We’ll close it out with the sections I found least interesting, the Character Cards, Glossary and massive Support Conversation section (it takes up the last 100 or so pages of the book!).
Overall, I was pretty pleased with The Art of Fire Emblem: Awakening. It’s a true tribute to fans of the game and series, and well worth the price of admission. Regardless of whether you’re happy or sad with the direction of the series lately, it’s good to remember that we’re fortunate it has lasted this long. My only real complaint with the book is how much space is devoted to dialogue without accompanying art. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go wax nostalgic about my stumpy legged friends once more…
Review Copy Purchased by Author
ArtDark HorseFire Emblem: AwakeningIntelligent SystemsNintendoThe Art of Fire Emblem: Awakening