Miniature Final Fantasy: No Adventure Too Large
Square Enix / Miniature Calendar / Dark Horse
Armed with a camera, a collection of small figures, a household full of stuff, and imagination, famous Final Fantasy scenes are recreated using tiny figures.
In Miniature Final Fantasy: No Adventure Too Large, the adventure may be big, but the content is small.
As a kid, I’m sure most of us liked to take our dolls or action figures and act out scenes from TV or from our own imaginations. Some people never lose that spark, and the rise of detailed collectibles and “nerdy” merchandise has helped keep this hobby popular, if not more popular than ever.
So that’s what this is. Super tiny plastic painted Final Fantasy hero figures reenacting parts of games using household objects to make the displays. Do expect a couple of spoilers like that scene from Final Fantasy VII. Some are non-important things like the guys from Final Fantasy XV camping or parts that non-players won’t fully understand the significance of. A blurb accompanies each to give non-players a brief recap of what’s going on along with images of the respective game scenes and sketch(es) of Tanaka’s plan.
The book is smaller than I expected. It’s about a 7 x 7″ square. This means it’s slightly smaller than the average manga volume and a bit bigger than a game case in height. This is definitely not artbook or calendar size. I guess I should have expected that for the price, but I guess I assumed it would be a softcover book instead of hardcover. Currently, no digital version is available.
Now, the images themselves are cool. The scenes all use common objects and food. It’s kind of like those $5/$10 cosplay challenges, just instead of dressing yourself up, you make a diorama. Each of the 15 main games are represented here along with Final Fantasy Tactics. My favorite is the town of Alexandria constructed with dice and paper clamps. Tanaka’s spin on VIII‘s parade float and the very realistic battle scene from Tactics are also neat. I’m sure some talented people out there will be inspired to do their own version.
Now, here’s where my disappointment lies: there’s only one image for each of the games plus two bonuses (III and VII). Okay, technically each game gets two pictures, one distance shot and a close-up. But that’s it. I know each of these took a lot of planning, but for a photobook/artbook, it was a huge letdown. It’s not like Tanaka needed more figures — although that would have been awesome. Most have two figures per image, although a few have more or less.
But like Final Fantasy II‘s Firion is shown facing off against a Malboro. Malboros are regular enemies, so there are plenty of Boss fights or story moments that could have been added. Final Fantasy VII‘s main photo is not even a direct scene from the game but rather an inspiration. (The paper insert used as the faux back cover for the UPC and blurb also seems to call it the wrong place, but you’ll probably just throw it away anyway.) So not everything pictured are important scenes from their games. Putting a unique twist can be nice, but with one scene from a game, I imagine a lot of players will wish different — or, rather, additional — events were shown. It seems like such a waste to have all these awesome figures but they only get one, maybe two pictures.
Miniature Final Fantasy is just under 100 pages, but it’s significantly shorter than that. Each of the games has a quote that takes up the full page. The last quarter of the book has a sections showing Tanaka talking about his love of the games and showing the creation of the book. Then it closes with the prologue of each game and info about which character(s) are in each picture and an image pointing to the location on the game’s world map. You can see how the 96 pages fly by based upon the images above.
So while Tanaka says he wanted to create images that even non-Final Fantasy fans could enjoy, let’s be real here: the people who are interested in this are going to be Final Fantasy fans. The original pictures were available on social media, and yeah, I’m sure that miniature fans viewed them. But in a paid product, I don’t think too many people need to read hashtags of enemy games and the matching game since they’ll know it’s Bartz and Lenna with a potato as a meteorite. All this extra info would be okay if the book had several images and the publishers wanted to keep the page count down. But with so few images, they just feel like filler. Now if the quote page and the gamepage were combined, and Tanaka’s quote and the full-page quote were replaced with a second, brand-new-to-this-book image — then maybe Miniature Final Fantasy would be more worth it.
Instead, we have the making of pages and the prologues. All the behind-the-scenes is interesting, even though a lot of it boils down to his gaming history and how he worked backward on some of them (decided what he wanted to include first, then choose the scene/characters). No offense to Tanaka, but I didn’t find anything here to push Miniature Final Fantasy into the must-have territory. He loves FF, he made these images, and he was excited to. That’s the whole section in one sentence. Interesting, but in the same “interesting” way of a movie commentary, and how many times do you buy and rewatch a movie just to listen to it?
Like in other FF artbooks, some screenshots are translated and edited by Dark Horse. But some do seem to be from the actual game, as they use the same font style and color.
The biggest downside is most of the images are available here for free. Yes, that’s all 15 main images for $0. Yeah, so unless you are desperate for close-ups, a few in-progress images, and some FF screenshots and quotes, you can easily skip Miniature Final Fantasy: No Adventure Too Large. Of course, they could always remove them, I doubt they’ll be hard to find.