Hyung-Tae Kim's Oxide 2x Cover

Title: Oxide 2x
Artist: Hyung-Tae Kim
ISBN: 4-7577-2095-5
Publisher: Enterbrain
First Published: January 2005
Format: Hardcover, 7.5 x 10.5 inches
Language: Japanese
Pages: 176
Purchase Price: $34 US
Purchased From: Yesasia
Extras: None

In November 2005, Magna Carta: Tears of Blood was released, published by Atlus. It was a spiritual sequel to Magna Carta: Phantom of Avalanche and may have had a successful run in Japan, since a PSP version was created and there have been rumors of an Xbox360 sequel. However, in the Western world, Tears of Blood wasn’t received as such, on the account of the banal graphics and awful voice acting. Ah, if I could stop there…but I continue. The Korean RPG played out like an unholy union of Shadow Hearts and Star Ocean, taking the best features from each series and throwing them out the window. The question we have to ask now is: what was the saving grace? The answer? There wasn’t any. But there was one mitigating factor: the artwork was done by Hyung-Tae Kim.

Tears of Blood Cast

Phantom of Avalanche's Adora

Recollect the mantra “sex sells”. If sales were based purely on that, anything done by Hyung-Tae Kim would fly off the shelves. It’s impossible to look at his art and not think impure thoughts. Eyes that would make you swoon, a trim figure, and skin-tight clothing that reveals ample thighs…bear in mind, this is the description of Calintz, the male protagonist of Tears of Blood. And as for Kim’s ladies? Voluptuous is the word. Masculinity, femininity, and androgyny; all blended together through the craft of Kim. Characters are poised and posed in the most captivating ways, as if being without flair would cause the collapse of the universe.

And so we have a book from Hyung-Tae Kim, an artist whose talents deserve better treatment than the aforementioned game. Just because a game is bad doesn’t mean all aspects follow suit, no?

War of Genesis III's Saladin and Beramode

War of Genesis III's Etudes Art

Oxide 2x is the Japanese print of Kim’s artwork from 1999-2004. There was previously a Korean release of OXIDE: The Art of Genesis, hence the ‘2x’ in this one’s title. It so happens that the Korean version of Oxide 2x, Oxide 2: Carta Numinous, has less pages than the Japanese since OXIDE covered Kim’s earlier work but contains extra art not seen in Oxide 2x. Slightly confusing, yes? Of course, that’s all irrelevant since the Korean books are no longer in print and the Japanese release is the only one we have before us.

Tears of Blood's Justina

Tears of Blood's Orha

The artwork isn’t in chronological order, with oldest to newest. Rather, it’s the opposite, starting with Magna Carta: Tears of Blood and ending at The War of Genesis III, with sketchwork to close. Magna Carta: Tears of Blood, known in the East as Magna Carta: Crimson Stigmata, totals 43 pages, with each page usually holding a single character. Exceptions would be the illustrations done for cover art, promotion, etc. This is understandably Kim’s most polished work in the book, as it is his latest. A wonderful addition is that for every character, their names, date drawn, resolution, and file size are included.

Phantom of Avalanche's Calintz

Phantom of Avalanche's Chelsea and Roffma

Chapter Two is 2001’s Magna Carta: The Phantom of Avalanche, released in South Korea and nowhere else. Curious to see how Tears of Blood’s Calintz contrasted Phantom of Avalanche’s. The 37 pages here are just like the preceding chapter, but also squeezing in a brief “How to Paint” guide. By ‘brief’, I mean that it is ‘exceedingly brief’. No words, just a series of small images showing the coloring of the character Chelsea. Not sure how helpful it is since I’m no expert on painting via CG. (funny_bunny: Look at the photo of Kim’s desk! I use the exact same pencil he does!)

War of Genesis III's Rien

War of Genesis III's Redhed

Pages 87 to 160, which are the next two chapters, consist of War of Genesis III and War of Genesis III: Part 2. Another series by Softmax; another series that I wouldn’t count on reaching stateside. Several of characters share the same page, possibly due to the amount of them. This is especially evident in the War of Genesis III section. It’s Kim’s most early work, but his technique isn’t all too different, so no worries there. Thankfully, Part 2 is mostly spared from that kind of formatting, as that’s my favored chapter. The remaining chapter, made up of 14 pages, is packed with various rough sketches, most of it from the Phantom of Avalanche section. Interestingly enough, the back cover of Oxide 2x advertises itself as having 50 sketches. I suppose that’s true in the sense that there are 50 individual sketches; they’re just spread out over 14 pages.

War of Genesis III's Judy

War of Genesis III's Embla

Oxide 2x is definitely an artbook to get. With the majority of it rich with Hyung-Tae Kim’s illustrations, what’s not to love? Hardcover, two-paged spreads; all of it very professional and clean. Really, all it boils down to is whether or not you’re fond of Kim’s art. As he’s stated in interviews, he is intentionally sensual and sexual. And I, for one, can applaud that.

Lavie Rhap is a freelance writer who contributes to a number of sites and zines using multiple pseudonyms. Once thought that Super Smash Bros. was a sequel to Super Mario Bros.

prettyprophet is hot-tempered hellion who is always right. Lead singer in a band that constantly changes names and only does secret shows (mainly because they suck).

Kawaii Pattycakes is a self-admitted otaku with thousands of dollars worth in figures. Bought all of “Planet Blood” because she hoped it would be done by THE Hyung-Tae Kim; was sadly mistaken.

funny_bunny is an aficionado of artbooks and craves sushi. Supplies artbooks and recipes to Lavie for reviewing and cooking.

War of Genesis III's Images

War of Genesis III's Etudes

War of Genesis III's Joan and Christian

Tears of Blood's Calintz and Reith

*Images from forgotten or unknown sources. May have been DGP or Hyung-taekim.org.