Design is one of the most important aspects that defines the attractiveness of the book and how it communicates its content to the reader. In this project we wish to share with you wonderful books that should be in everyone’s library because of their attractiveness and thoughtful design. In our second article, we take on the Osamu Tezuka’s classic story, Ayako (published by Vertical Inc.).
Chapter One: Front & Back Cover
Ayako is a long, semi-historical tale that deals with important matters of serious intellectual content such as politics, ideology, corruption and the possible nuclear threats that mankind faced in the 20th century. Even though one would expect that with such themes the designer’s approach would be either a heavy, over-the-top illustration or a smart layout experiment like Chip Kidd’s attempt at MW’s cover, here things are different.
What we get in Ayako is the simplest and most meaningful result there could be. It’s all about Tezuka’s heroine. Her innocence and vulnerability is the story’s main material and all the rest are nothing but details that empower Ayako‘s tragedy. I love how that idea is consistently followed, be it in the color selection or in Ayako‘s minimalistic figure.
The back cover follows the same path, playing a trick on the reader, preparing him/er for one of the harshest frames in manga history.
There are two more splendid details that intrigue me; the first, has to do with the OT stamp, that probably stands for Osamu Tezuka. The fact that they used this in the cover makes the whole work feel more “original and man made”, not just a piece of mass production.
The second detail is the book’s logo, that resembles hand-writing. One could probably guess that the frail and sad Ayako wrote her name this way -in thin, elegant lines. Even though it is supposed to look hand-made, that does not change the fact that the logo is well-studied and carefully designed.
Chapter Two: Size
Perhaps the strongest point of Ayako is its size. Over 900 pages binded in heavy hardcover and high quality internal paper that truly captures ones’ eye with just the first glance. This is a major power-card in an extremely competitive market, where a publisher’s book has to win over a thousand other titles.
Size alone does not guarantee uniqueness. The fact is, Ayako is a classic in manga history and a title that holds special value. It is also a project publicized for a very specific audience, since the majority of manga readers do not look out for stories from the 1970s. That is why Vertical Inc.’s decision to go after and publish the hardcover edition is meaningful. It gives the product a sense of long-lasting value, a purchase of a lifetime treasure, which really makes Ayako worth the few more bucks one has to pay for.
Simple yet powerful, gentle yet heavy, Ayako is more than a must for every otaku and thoughtful reader as well as for friends of great, legendary design.