Here it is, our own overview of the Shinra Bansho Card Taizen (Encyclopedia), released originally on 6/2006. Image spam ahead, so if you’re seeing this on the front page click the break to continue.
As usual, click each image for its full size.
As soon as you open this thing (it reads right to left), there’s a flat pouch at the front containing a special card that comes only with this book. Mine here is unopened, and errr I don’t know if I will ever open it for snooty collector reasons, so here’s the card’s entry on Palusuke.com for images of it.
Since the book is long out of print and can only be found second hand, this means whether it’ll include the card, and whether the card will already be removed from the insert, will depend. However, it doesn’t make a huge difference in price – the copy I found was a mere 155 yen and otherwise in great condition overall.
The downside is, the costs of having it sent to you will likely inflate it beyond that – but more on that later. More photos!
The table of contents, followed by the opening page for Chapter I, Volume 1’s “Story & Card Catalog”. Because of when it was published, it only covers Chapter I Volumes 1 to 4, and Chapter II Volume 1.
And here’s one of the big selling points of the guide – a story overview of each volume, accompanied by some very nice original illustrations. They appear to be colored by marker, and the results are bright and warm – I’m not so sure photographs do them justice, they’re just awesome.
The bulk of the book consists of the card catalog, which features the complete image of each card’s front, sometimes with little sparkle illustrations inserted to communicate when the actual card has shiny effects. The information listed along with them consists of what would normally be on the back of the card – whether or not there’s additional details, I’m not entirely sure. But of course, as you can see, they do stuff more details, like some world information here, into the extra space (in this case on the lower right).
You’ll note that some card images shown are bigger than others – even the bigger ones are not quite as big as an actual Shinra Bansho Chocolate card, so that’s worth bearing in mind. They all look great, regardless.
Sometimes other promotional artwork and text gets shoved in wherever they have room too.
Another example of volume story section illustrations, this time featuring the introduction of fan favorite Astaroth.
The formatting of the card catalog part changes up here and there, depending – also, there’s some occasional extra information through charts and diagrams, such as with the stuff on the main antagonists here.
One day, we will know what the deal is with Wasp Man and Orca Boy. One day…
Did I mention the illustrations are really awesome?
At the end of Chapter I, Volume 4, there’s a particular guide which seems to go over the specific battles that played out over the course of the story. Also, it lays out the original protagonist’s evolution, a theme which continued to stay strong in subsequent story arcs, with various different cards featuring the hero and other characters powering up over each volume.
After the last card catalog, for Chapter II, Volume 1, there’s an overview of the product mascot, Wafer Man.
Things wrap up with a preview for the as of then soon to be released Chapter II, Volume 2.
A number of nice little illustrations tucked away on the back credits page of the book which don’t appear elsewhere in it – whether these were made and just stuck here, or previously published in something else (like the CoroCoro Comic magazine), I don’t know.
The back, with the dust cover lifted a bit for the curious.
So, if you want to get this, here’s what I’d say are the ups and downs:
+ At base price, extremely cheap, even with the promo card included.
+ Full color from start to finish, with plenty of gorgeous original illustrations.
+ A great way to posess all the card’s artwork from the older Shinra Bansho series without having to track down the actual cards.
– As it’s out of print, this means you’ll have to get it second hand, and because of that you’ll almost certainly need a forwarding service’s help. Add the cost of shipping to that, and it’s not quite so cheap anymore.
– Only covers up to Chapter I, Volume 1 – it’s not a very thick book.
I got my copy through a marketplace seller on Amazon.co.jp with the help of a very good friend of mine in Japan.
On the whole, it’s a great resource and nice collector’s item, so if you can deal with the caveats of obtaining it mentioned above, it’s definitely worth it.