Talking about the "Hayabusa" of the 50 Sentai, Dai Nippon Kaiga has just released a brand new one; the fifth in the series after the "244 Sentai", the "70 Sentai", the "Akeno School" and the "64 Sentai".
While the "244 Sentai" was their best followed closely by the other four, this new one is the worst of all and SUCKS BIG TIME!
As before the publisher relies exclusively on the Kikuchi photo collection but no matter how many times people complain about the spreading of photos in two pages and the "valley" it creates, it seems that all protests fall on deaf ears. Actually I believe this is done on purpose. They have done this shit with 18 photos of this new publication, so conveniently they have filled 36 pages out of the total 96. (Perhaps we should do the same with our magazine. 10 photos spread on 20 pages = new issue every 2-3 months. Nice eh?)
Before you jump in and say I have some axe to grind with DNK, here is a sample review by a Japanese reader from Amazon indicative of others:
(What's the meaning of the band advertising the new dvd of the anime "Koya no Kotobuki Hikotai"? [He is talking about the band at the bottom of the cover])
(...compared to older publications, the lack of volume is obvious. Wish we had more photos like in the "Hien" book.)
(...the middle part of the page is not properly visible. The editor completely ignores the reader, or perhaps the editor does not know the value of these precious photos)
(...I wouldn't be bothered at all if they changed the orientation of the book from portrait to landscape to view the photos better. It is a really unfortunate editing job that does not understand the reader's feelings and the value of the photos.)
I would like to believe that they hurried to publish this one in time for the Shizuoka show (this weekend...we ain't going, have to finish the "Sally" book) because it's really not good. There are two pages of excellent artwork by Sato Kunihiko with various "Hayabusa" details, 6 pages of cheap, flat, totally unnecessary artwork by Yoshino Yasutaka showing the various paint schemes, 7 pages with color photos of the restored "Hayabusa" in the FHCAM, 61 pages with 52 photos from the Kikuchi collection and about 15 pages with a very rough history of the unit and other information.
Don't you just love the "valley"? You got to destroy your copy to see the exhausts.
The printing quality of the Kikuchi photos is also not good at all. Compared to the brilliant KFI#79, they are dark with plenty of shadows and contrast. As a result a lot of details are completely lost. Not to mention they are not sharp at all. The author/editor explains that they used the small sample/test prints of the photos (see below. If you know the correct word in English for this, leave a comment) instead of the actual negatives.
And here's why: Kikuchi-san originally printed all the photos in the collection at a camera shop near their house. When somebody wanted to use some of the photos, they lent the printed ones (not the negatives). Some returned the borrowed photos, some didn't. The first time they printed them they were crystal clear. Subsequent prints were full of noise and in any case less than half of the photos in the films were printed and available. A few years back almost all the camera shops in Japan stopped printing films and Kikuchi-san (the widow of the photographer who had passed away in 1990) had no place to make more copies. So she started lending the sample prints which are of course small and of much inferior quality than the originals. I'm describing all this from painful personal experience. Kikuchi-san explained to me that after her passing, the photos will be donated to the "Japan Photographer's association" (or whatever is called) so we can only hope that when they get them they will make them somehow available in their original quality. Don't forget that although the aviation photos in the Kikuchi collection are of great value to us, Kikuchi-san was one of the first to visit Hiroshima right after the atomic bomb was dropped and the photos he took of the destruction, as you can imagine, are of extreme historical value.
But anyway, going back to the DNK publication. I'm always happy when a new book about Japanese airplanes comes out. Not particularly happy with this one though.
So for me it's Moderately Recommended.
But if you're interested, it's available from our on-line store, HERE