Whether you know his famous design work from the long-running Final Fantasy series, the art from Vampire Hunter D, or even his brief partnership with Neil Gaiman in The Sandman: The Dream Hunters, there’s no denying that Yoshitaka Amano is a talented man. He has an art style all his own, a respect for classic mythology, and a creative flair that few can equal. One of the few things he’s had little of up until this point is a written voice, but that’s all changed with his latest work, Deva Zan.
Deva Zan is Amano’s personal expression of the legends of Asia for his Western readership. In an epic that spans across different dimensions, and in arenas like the streets of modern day New York and feudal Japan, twelve divine generals fight against an entropic force that would see the end of everything they hold dear.
In many ways, Deva Zan may be Amano’s greatest work to date. Amano’s artwork is stunning. His style, reminiscent of the classic Japanese brush painting, is classic, elegant, and rich in a broad spectrum of colors. Some images include a bright rainbow of colors, almost disorienting in their brilliance, while others are wispy images forged in varying shades of gray. The play of light and darkness, as well as the variance between full-color and two-tones, all serve to highlight the story, its characters, and their struggles.
The story itself is similarly impressive. The twelve divine guardians, plucked straight from Japanese mythology, are stripped of everything that made them gods, even their memories, but retained everything that made them warriors. Traveling through different worlds and times, Amano explores the meaning of life, memory, and will. It’s a timeless conflict made more tangible and contemporary by his artful storytelling. The beings he describes, although seen as gods by man, are portrayed as all too human, each with their own fears and doubts to overcome even as the greatest opponent they have ever faced looms overhead.
They say Amano spent the last ten years planning this book, and judging from the quality of both the artwork and the storytelling, I don’t hesitate to say it was ten years well spent. There’s a reason he’s one of the biggest names in fantasy, and this is far from his final work. | Brent Mueller
Originally Posted at PLAYBACK:stl