BOK's Flavour - Sweet or Sour?
By Gregory on March 24th, 2005 · Filed in General Magic · Comments not available just now
Betrayers' Flavor – Sweet or Sour? PART 1
Betrayers of Kamigawa (BOK) has been released for some time now, continuing the block theme of Japanese folklore and other tales - complete with spirits and ninjas. In this article and the next two I will dive into the world of Kamigawa and look at it from a flavourful point of view. I will do this with every set, and in every PART 1 I will look at:
Recently, the art in Magic has been getting better and better with each new set. BOK continues this fashion and gives us art with amazing detail and creatures. Artists seem to have been given a "limited freedom." They seem to be able to draw and paint absolutely anything since all the Beasts and Horrors etc. are becoming Spirits.
Here, I will talk to you about some of the art that I like most, as well as art that is just simply "le crème de la crème." I will arrange my thoughts into colours for easier reading.
White has its fair share of good art in BOK. The abstract Scour is just so different form the rest of the art in BOK that it has become my personal favourite white piece of art. I like the way the colours mix and the whole flow of the picture. Empty-Shrine Kannushi came a close second because of the origami birds flying around the person. I like how the art directly links to the card’s ability. My third favourite card would have to be Hokori, Dust Drinker. Again, I like the picture as a whole and like the feel to it.
That isn’t to say that every other card’s art is bad. I like the odd viewpoint below the horse on Day of Destiny and I like the not so much dull, but earth tone colours in Kami of False Hope. The olive greens really work well. The background on Takeno's Cavalry is also nice with its light pastel shades and pleasant feel to it.
Before I go onto to talk about the not-so-good art, I of course have to mention Kentaro, the Smiling Cat. Its art displays a great amount of detail, but it doesn’t really appeal to me. Something about it just feels odd.
Lastly, we have the art I’m less so enthusiastic about. An example is Ward of Piety, or rather a picture of the Mr. Fantastic of the Kitsune. I get the idea of foreshortening, but maybe it was taken to a bit too much of an extreme here?
I’m not sure how I feel about the blue art in BOK. So far, it hasn't impressed me as much as the blue art in Champions did. However, BOK seems to provide one or two gems.
First there’s Heed the Mists. I love the piece as a whole. I like the woman outlines in the background and I like the honest, deep-in-thought expression of the man, which gives this art a calm, relaxing feel, rarely found in card art nowadays.
Then, there are blue’s Ninjas. In general, their art is nothing too special. They just don’t seem to display the mystery that is found in a Ninja. Ninja of the Deep Hours and Mistblade Shinobi, even with the elegance shown in their art, seem to focus too much on the Ninja itself. I think you could produce some interesting art if you tried to show "Ninjutsu" at work.
Of course though, there are exceptions. I like the diorama in Higure, the Still Wind. I also like Walker of Secret Ways. Not because it shows the feeling of what being a Ninja would be, like the art in Higure does, but because of the quality of the piece. The detail is good, possibly giving Kentaro a run for his money, and I like the abstract background with the complex patterns and the bonsai trees.
Lastly, they reprinted Phantom Wings, and that means new art. Unfortunately, I don’t like it as much as the Weatherlight incarnation of it, with the goats and graceful wings.
Black’s art has, quite simply, been getting more disgusting as time progresses. Because of this, black has given me the wonderful opportunity to see vomiting fish in Sickening Shoal and the joyful memory of seeing Pus Kami for the first time.
But this unfortunate trend though does not hinder all of the black art in BOK. I like the Aztec/Incan style in Genju of the Fens, the bold art of Eradicate and the very intricate, X-ray style art of Horobi's Whisper.
I also somewhat like the art for the Three Tragedies. However, I think the art could be worked on for a greater effect, even though the person in the art is of very high standard.
Lastly, I’ll talk about black’s Ninja art. I personally like it more than what blue provides. Quite ironically, black’s Ninja Rats seem to possess a slimness which shows them in a more flexible manner than blue's Ninjas. I think this fits the flavour of Ninjas in the sense that they can get out of any situation. The best example of this may be Skullsnatcher, with the slim body of the rat hiding in the swamp.
But now that I think about it, black’s ninja art seems to show the creature without the pride that blue does display. The two colours both display certain aspects of the Ninja, but I think that most art should have a combination of the two.
I think what I stated for blue can be said for red’s art as well. Underneath all that bog standard Akki art, you do find some good stuff - namely, Sowing Salt. In fact, I like Sowing Salt’s art so much that it has become my favorite piece of BOK art. I like the view on the ground and the simplistic, yet effective mood of the piece. It is odd, because, although it beckons to be called "calm" like Heed the Mists, it has a "warm" feel to it, possibly because of its palette. Either way, it definitely stands out from the crowd.
Another mention goes to Ishi-Ishi, Akki Crackshot mainly because of the comic feel to it. The expression on the goat leads to, simply put, a fun piece of art.
Unfortunately, I have to stop there to talk about art that is truly something different. Reviewing the color again, I suppose I could mention Genju of the Spires and Fumiko the Lowblood, but they just don’t appeal to me. Aura Barbs is quite nice with its "rainforest" greens, but again, it just doesn’t appeal to me.
Green doesn’t display anything special in BOK other than Patron of the Orochi. When we look at it from far away, our eyes are allowed to wander all over the place. You see a face in a background – no that’s just some glowing masks. A "tentacle" in the foreground? Not really. Because of this and all the intricate detail in it (if you remember that Magic Arcana a while back, or simply look to the right), the viewer can look at the picture for a while without getting bored. Of course, the definition of "a while" may vary, but if you compare the art to say, Loam Dweller, you’ll get the idea.
I’m just going to talk about the Orochi for a moment. Now the thing that has surprised me enough in BOK to talk about them is their sense of fashion. I thought they lived in the jungle, and wore more of the stuff found on Orochi Sustainer and Sosuke, Son of Seshiro from Champions. But when someone opens up a booster, what do they get? Sakiko, Mother of Summer – the Cruella de Ville of the Orochi.
ARTIFACTS, LANDS AND CROSS COLOUR:
These areas haven’t provided much art that I’m fond of, but they aren’t that bad in terms of art. First there’s Shuko, which oddly I’m quite fond of. I suppose I like the light tone of the piece, but more than anything else, I think I like the "movement" in it. With Shuko, you can really image that someone has put them on and feels a surge of power. He’s marveled at them and is showing them off to the world.
Orb of Dreams gets an honorable mention because of the detail in the actual orb. I’m growing fonder of it as I talk about it, but I’m not in love yet.
The lands in BOK are on par, both of them having that little something "extra." Although they aren’t the best land art ever made, and even though the little "extra" is very small indeed, I do like them. Tendo Ice Bridge doesn’t so much have an odd viewpoint, but something about it is odd. The background mountain is done very well and the whole piece is detailed. The actual bridge is done quite nicely as well.
Gods' Eye, Gate to the Reikai is also very good. The detailing on the structure in the picture is excellent, but considering the rest of the piece, I’m not so much worried about that. The thing that appeals to me is the background. The two lines in the sky remind me of the Northern Lights, and the brightness of the sun, and all the realism in the clouds makes me ask if it has really been painted.
Lastly, as we reach the end of this discussion, I’ll talk about the Bakus. They’re quite funky creatures with one in every colour, and now that I think about it, Rebecca Guay has done Petalmane Baku very nicely but I just can’t help remember opening it at the pre-release and going: "Ooh, a tiger masquerading as a bush."
So there you have it; I’ve looked at BOK’s art. I hope you enjoyed reading this odd article, and will join me for the next two parts of this discussion. If you want to share your own ideas with me, I will be watching this article’s thread, so post your ideas there.
See you next time…
By Gregory on March 24th, 2005 · Filed in General Magic · Comments not available just now
gerg is the Master of the Backwards Name, and has a personal vandetta against capitals after spending too much time studying Latin. Currently his interest in MtG is fading, but he stays in for the flavour aspect of the game, popping out an article or two on teh subject everynow and then.