Star Ocean: Blue Sphere Merchandise


Star Ocean: Blue Sphere was released on June 28, 2001 in Japan for Game Boy Color. Due to the fact that the game didn't get all the promotion and advertising that the numbered Star Ocean entries received, there is very little merchandise available. What there is, though, is all high-quality stuff that any Blue Sphere fanatic should own. This page has all the Star Ocean: Blue Sphere products that I know of, which at this point should be 99.9% complete. If you are aware of a product that's missing, however, don't hestitate to contact me.

Star Ocean: Blue Sphere Game - Cover - Back - Contents
Compatible With All Game Boy Systems
Published by: Enix
Date of Release: June 28, 2001
Yen Price: 5,800
Personal Opinion on Product - Well, of course I own the game. It's my favorite Star Ocean game, tied with Star Ocean: The Second Story. I sort of see them as one continuous, epic story, so really, if I was asked what my favorite game is, I'd like to say "Star Ocean 2 + Blue Sphere" not unlike how some people say "Sonic 3 + Sonic & Knuckles", even though they don't physically combine like those. My cartridge came complete and brand new straight from Japan for about 60 dollars, including shipping. It was well worth every cent and then some. A couple years later, we picked up a second complete copy for roughly the same price (it held its value very well) so my boyfriend and I can trade items and play the versus mode (which is completely unlike anything in the single-player game; it's more like strategy RPG battles). The game also only lets you save one file on the cart, so two copies is a must if you got more than one person in your house that wants to play. For more information and personal thoughts, check out my walkthrough and FAQ on Star Ocean: Blue Sphere currently hosted at GameFAQs under the contributor name "Aussie2B".

Official Guide Book - Cover - Cover With Spine Card - Back
Published by: Enix / CB's Project
Illustrations: Mayumi Azuma
Length: 208 Pages
All Color Pages
Date of Release: July 19, 2001
Size: 6 x 8 Inches
Yen Price: 1,238
ISBN: 4-7575-0479-9
Includes a Bonus Post Card
Personal Opinion on Product - Being the official guide book for Star Ocean: Blue Sphere, this book is naturally the most "polished" looking of the three. It has an ample number of pages for all the information provided, and everything is in glorious full color. Besides the normal official artwork, Enix also had Mayumi Azuma draw the cover, chibi characters for the table of contents, and a super spiffy post card tucked in the back. One of my favorite cosmetic things about this guide is the "transition" pages. In front of each important section there is a page with info or character artwork washed out in this beautiful blue background. It really captures the mystery of the "BLUE" Sphere. Enough on the glitz, though, as some people actually want guides for the info they provide. :P Overall, I'd say this is the best Star Ocean: Blue Sphere guide, but when you compare and contrast the info of them, they balance out. The official guide spaces things out nicer and more clearly, and the character info is more organized. However, I somewhat prefer the item lists in the KB Game Books guide, and the official guide book seems to needlessly use a lot of kanji despite that the game itself keeps everything very simple with katakana and hiragana (thankfully the KB Game Books guide keeps it that way). While the official guide offers comprehensive Versus information where the KB Game Books does not, the KB Game Books guide covers the Shiren Ruins bonus dungeon which the official guide barely mentions. My advice is to just consider the pros and cons and make the decision yourself. Or just get both. :P

Game Books Guide Book - Cover - Cover With Spine Card - Back
Published by: KB Game Books
Length: 145 Pages
98 Color Pages
47 Black and White Pages
Date of Release: July 12, 2001
Size: 6 x 8 Inches
Yen Price: 1,200
ISBN: 4-06-339388-7
Personal Opinion on Product - As a third-party Japanese guide book, it's very nice. It contains character profiles with both the official artwork and the sprites, a full walkthrough with maps of actual pieced together screenshots, and comprehensive information on field action and item creation abilities, moves and spells, the skill system, monster data, and all the items in the game. Unfortunately, as you'd expect, there might not be much to offer to someone lacking in knowledge of Japanese. The maps are quite helpful (though a tad dark), and with a little knowledge of katakana, you can get A LOT out of the charts on the skill system and such. That's the most complex and confusing part of the game, so it's actually even more useful than the walkthrough itself. My personal favorite thing about the guide is all the cool artwork of the game's enemies and bosses. Too bad there isn't any original art of the characters.

Final Guide - Cover - Cover With Spine Card - Back - Sample Page - Sample Page 2 - Sample Page 3
Published by: Enterbrain
Length: 287 Pages
Date of Release: August 2, 2001
Size: 6 x 8 Inches
Yen Price: 1,300
ISBN: 4-7577-0527-1
Personal Opinion on Product - The Star Ocean: Blue Sphere Final Guide is the heftiest of the three Blue Sphere guide books, which is to be expected from a guide that attempts to be the end all to be all of Blue Sphere strategy guides. While it's not superior to the other guides in every way, you do get a lot of bang for your buck and the extra time it took to make this guide does pay off. Some particularly cool additions to this guide are a short retrospective on the series, a flow chart of the progression of the game, English translations of all the location names (though they are prone to being Engrishy and/or incorrect), the mathematical formulas behind damage values, screen captures of every combo animation each character possesses, a list of all private actions, sprites next to all the items in the lists (perfect for those lacking in knowledge of Japanese who can simply match things up by how they look), and a super spiffy interview with the staff behind the game that makes me long that I knew fluent Japanese. One of my biggest pet peeves with the guide, however, is how the monster list is in Japanese alphabetical order. Why on earth would they not use the order present in game in the monster picture book? Other than all this stuff, you'll find the same kind of in-depth information about the game that you'll also find in the other guides, and what you enjoy most will likely come down to personal preferences. That said, the Final Guide isn't really the kind of guide you buy for artwork or a super slick presentation; Final Guides are all about information and this one has it in spades.

Arrange & Sound Trax - Slipcase Cover - Slipcase Back - Jewel Case Cover - Discs and Inserts
2 CDs - 41 Tracks
29 Original Background Music Tracks
12 Songs Arranged Into Instrumentals
Composed and Arranged by: Motoi Sakuraba
Date of Release: August 22, 2001
Published by: Scitron Discs
Yen Price: 3,675
Reference Number: SCDC-00123-4

Disc -1- "Arrange Side" Length: 56:43
Track List and Lengths:
1. Myth of Fate - 2:45
2. Peace of Mind - 4:49
3. Like the River Styx - 4:45
4. A Heavy Heart - 5:22
5. No Mercy - 4:32
6. Pacifism - 4:41
7. Hand to Hand - 4:16
8. Sacred Ground - 4:47
9. Death is a Great Leveller - 4:18
10. Legacy from the Past - 5:18
11. Every Extremity is a Vise - 4:29
12. STAR OCEAN FOREVER - 5:41

Disc -2- "Original Side" Length: 56:34
Track List and Lengths:
1. STAR OCEAN FOREVER - 1:20
2. Myth of Fate - 0:43
3. Pacifism - 2:13
4. The Surface of the Blue Sphere - 2:59
5. Peace of Mind - 2:42
6. Hand to Hand - 2:04
7. Victory Pose!! - 0:40
8. Treasure Hunter - 2:20
9. Like the River Styx - 1:36
10. Greed City - 1:42
11. Price of Progress - 2:09
12. A Heavy Heart - 2:26
13. No Mercy - 0:49
14. Forsaken Wastes - 2:50
15. Legacy from the Past - 2:31
16. Unfulfilled Desires - 3:25
17. Guardian of Truth - 2:21
18. Created, Destryed and Reregenerated - 1:59
19. Null Chamber - 2:21
20. Sacred Ground - 1:27
21. Boundless Sea - 2:05
22. Civilization Keeper - 2:12
23. Death is the Great Leveller. - 1:55
24. Every Extremity is a Vice. - 2:36
25. There is Nothing Permanent except Change. - 2:46
26. Serene Heart - 0:55
27. MEET_AGAIN - 0:07
28. Challenger From the Other Side - 1:14
29. Penance - 2:05
Personal Opinion on Product - Wow... Absolutely stunning. As soon the first track of the arranged album, "Myth of Fate", kicked in, I felt at home. Sakuraba takes a little melody from the original song and creates a whole new arranged song based around it. This beautiful epic piece feels like Star Ocean (mixing in a little bit of "STAR OCEAN FOREVER" at the end of it doesn't hurt either) and sets the standard for the rest of the album. The album moves onto "Peace of Mind", a relaxing acoustic guitar, violin, and flute arrangement of the general town theme. After this gorgeous piece, "Like the River Styx" will hit you like a ton of bricks. This insane, evil battle music arrangement teaches you why exactly Sakuraba is the master of battle themes. Then "A Heavy Heart" slowly twists its way into your heart with its long, drawn-out melancholic notes. I find the middle of the album loses a little steam, but it's hard to live up to the first few amazing songs. It's all a matter of opinion and taste, though. The last few songs pick back up with the marching drum of "Legacy from the Past" and the eerie vocals of "Every Extremity is a Vise". The album wraps up with the musical embodiment of the Star Ocean series, "STAR OCEAN FOREVER". No better way to end. As for the original soundtrack album, you know what to expect if you've played the game already, so unless you have a problem with Game Boy Color-quality sound, you should find it delightful. I strongly urge you to not be close-minded, and I present you this question: would Sakuraba put so much effort into a Game Boy soundtrack if it was only to come out as a bunch of bleeps and bloops? I think you know the answer.

Star Ocean: Blue Sphere Official Manga Volume 1 - Cover
Published by: GanGan Comics
Artist: Aoi Mizuki
Length: 192 Pages
Date of Release: September 22, 2002
Size: 17.5 x 11 cm
Yen Price: 390
ISBN: 4-7575-0764-X
Personal Opinion on Product - Since Star Ocean: Blue Sphere isn't an especially story-heavy game, the official manga series has a lot of room to stray and elaborate - and it does, understandably. Depending on what characters you like best, you may find the series a bit disappointing due to the fact that besides an all-cast drawing at the beginning, the existence of Chisato and Noel isn't even acknowledged. The two Nedians always seem to get the shaft. :( Similarly, Bowman stays behind on Expel with Nineh and his new baby daughter Elis, making only a couple brief appearances via email. If you ignore these small flaws, though, it's an extremely enjoyable series. Aoi Mizuki is a very talented artist, and the books are fairly simple to follow even without knowledge of Japanese. In volume 1, we see the grounds for the storyline being formed. We're introduced to Precis and Leon studying on Earth; Celine, Ashton, and Dias practicing their abilities on Expel (and Bowman showing off his newborn); and Crawd and Rena on a mission with the Earth Federation. Apparently, email has become universal, and you can transmit live video as well. The cast keeps in touch this way, but one day Leon and Precis are interrupted with an SOS message from Opera. After picking up Celine, Ashton, and Dias, they race off to rescue Ernest and Opera. They crash into the planet, and they end up meeting Radol (the lost traveller from the Star Ocean games) who is more of a treasure hunter/pitchman in the comic. He becomes an active character in the plot, which makes it all the more frustrating that they didn't include Chisato, Noel, or Bowman instead. Radol tells them of Aba City and Knott, so they split into teams and head out. I'd say the overall theme of this volume is sexual tension. Precis is still holding onto her crush on Crawd, Ashton has a crush on her, Celine is bitter about her relationship so she wants to play matchmaker with Precis and Ashton, and she cons Leon into helping her with this mission. Lots of crazyness ensues, and it's great fun to watch.

Star Ocean: Blue Sphere Official Manga Volume 2 - Cover
Published by: GanGan Comics
Artist: Aoi Mizuki
Length: 192 Pages
Date of Release: March 22, 2003
Size: 17.5 x 11 cm
Yen Price: 390
ISBN: 4-7575-0875-1
Personal Opinion on Product - The second volume of the official manga series continues with Celine and Dias reaching Aba City and Precis, Ashton, and Leon reaching Banisu City after passing through Scout Village (in the previous comic) and Nusa Beach. This time around we get five full chapters, as opposed to volume 1 with its four chapters and two tiny bonus stories. Unlike the previous volume and its goofiness, this one has a lot of action, which is broken up with some lengthy, serious dialogue scenes that can be pretty dull and hard to follow without knowledge of Japanese. However, these scenes don't mar the comic since they are needed to give the reader a little bit of a break from all the tense, exciting moments and to add some storytelling between the nearly silent (but gorgeous) fighting. This time we get to see a whole bunch of Celine and Dias as they run into trouble with Aba-sama (who got hit with the pretty stick) and his henchmen. They get rescued by Marcus and Yulius of the Resistance against Aba, and they learn that Ernest is being held captive in Leviabor Ruins. They head off to save him, and Dias and Celine get split up within the ruins. Dias ends up in a huge gun versus sword face-off, while Celine deals with swarm after swarm of robot guardians. Finally, she reaches Ernest, just as a bomb is about to explode. I won't spoil it, but considering the series roughly follows the plot of the game, you should know what happens. At the end, a member of the Resistance is revealed to be a spy for Aba and calls forth the elephant-like robot monster G-Aba, and we watch as the leader of the Resistance, Marcus, struggles to stay alive. Throughout the manga, we get a bit of comic relief from Precis, Ashton, and Leon who run into Radol yet again and get stuck in Banisu City due to a rainstorm. Ashton and Radol experience some drunken, brotherly bonding, while Precis gets very annoyed. Leon goes off on his own, though, and runs into someone who has seen Opera in Knott - a mysterious, sweet young girl known as... Rival.

Star Ocean: Blue Sphere Official Manga Volume 3 - Cover - Sample Art
Published by: GanGan Comics
Artist: Aoi Mizuki
Length: 192 Pages
Date of Release: August 22, 2003
Size: 17.5 x 11 cm
Yen Price: 390
ISBN: 4-7575-0984-7
Personal Opinion on Product - After all the action and drama of volume 2 focused on Celine and Dias, the third volume switches to Precis's team and their goofy shenanigans. Leon and Rival make a cute couple as they browse the shops of Banisu City, but Opera is still missing, so they head back to the inn to fetch Precis and Ashton so they can accompany Rival to Knott. However, they discover that Ashton and Radol have already head off on their own. Immediately, Rival is beset with concern because, unbeknownst to everyone else, a dangerous water monster lives in the dank cavern, and Ashton's swords are not enough to defeat it. They rush to the scene and a harrowing battle ensues. They continue their journey, making a quick pit-stop to contact Celine, resting after the events of volume 2 (her only appearance this time; Dias is gone entirely), and upon arriving, Rival runs into her friend Simon, an original character in the manga who appears to be a member of Knott Laboratory. At the same time, Opera searches the ruins under the lab for the Plantia Stone. A fierce guardian intends to make sure she doesn't acquire it, but Opera uses some clever thinking to save her skin. However, that was just a warm-up compared to what's to come. Somewhere distant, a evil figure lurks in the shadows and calls forth an army of demons to descend upon Knott. Leon and Radol battle it out in the city, wondering where Rival vanished to, while Simon leads Precis and Ashton to the lab, which seems to be attracting the beasts. Ashton and Precis insist on heading deep into the ruins to rescue Opera, who is trapped in a chamber standing before a hulking, immensely powerful creature who demands that she hands over the Plantia Stone... This is the first volume to end on a cliffhanger, but as a small diversion from the anticipation of seeing how the dilemma resolves, we're given a little bonus story after the five chapters. This comical take on Cinderella places all the cast members in the roles - Precis as Cinderella, Celine as her "wicked" stepmother/sister, Leon as the fairy "godmother" (godfellpool? hehe), Ashton as the prince, and Dias as his servant. Of course, in true fractured fairytale style, the story doesn't end as you'd expect it to. :) All in all, a delightful bonus for an already excellent continuation of the series.

Star Ocean: Blue Sphere Official Manga Volume 4 - Cover - Sample Art
Published by: GanGan Comics
Artist: Aoi Mizuki
Length: 200 Pages
Date of Release: December 22, 2003
Size: 17.5 x 11 cm
Yen Price: 390
ISBN: 4-7575-1069-1
Personal Opinion on Product - As the midpoint in the manga series, volume 4 is fittingly the turning point in the story, in which the plot heads in a completely new direction from the prior three volumes. Having accomplished the mission that brought them to Edifice in the first place, the cast should be repairing their ship and heading to their respective homes, but in volume 4, they learn that there are sinister happenings on Edifice and Rival requests their assistance, which leads Precis, Ashton, Leon, and Rival through Scream and Snailpentes as they attempt to reach Lung. Once again, the focus is purely on this group, as Celine only makes a brief appearance to see how badly damaged Ernest's ship is, and Dias and Ernest are still MIA. Opera expectably appears within the resolution to volume 3's cliffhanger, but she's left behind in Knott to recover. However, we do get a bit of Crawd and Rena as they finally make the decision to head to Edifice, based on the data they've acquired on the same evil, civilization-destroying force that Precis and company are pursuing. Even though the drama is ratchetting up, there's still the usual comedy to balance things out, mostly coming from Radol as he pops in sporadically when he's not getting himself hopelessly lost. If you've played Star Ocean: Blue Sphere, I'm sure you're thinking that the events of this volume correspond with the huge plot twist in the game, and that's precisely what volume 4 ends on. Yeah, I'm being vague, but at this point, I'm not going to spoil the series by laying out the entire story for ya.

Star Ocean: Blue Sphere Official Manga Volume 5 - Cover - Sample Art
Published by: GanGan Comics
Artist: Aoi Mizuki
Length: 200 Pages
Date of Release: April 22, 2004
Size: 17.5 x 11 cm
Yen Price: 390
ISBN: 4-7575-1169-8
Personal Opinion on Product - The big shocker that volume 4 concluded with continues to play out in volume 5, and the drama grows heavy. At this point, the plot is at stark contrast with its lighthearted origins, and there's nary a smile to be seen for most of this volume. In fact, Leon is so utterly emotionally destroyed by the revelations that it's as if he's not even with the group for the first couple chapters, despite that he's right next to the others, collapsed in a lump on the floor. Even though there's much tension in the air, there's really not much going on for much of volume 5, so it may seem dull to those lacking Japanese fluency. For the most part, the only real action occurring involves the destructive deeds of Akuma. After the horrors they witness, Precis, Ashton, and Leon spend their time debating and planning what they need to do. Probably my favorite aspect of volume 5 is that it does a good job of tying up some loose ends that have been dangling for volumes. Aba-sama makes a reappearence, we see Opera conversing with Simon in Knott, and Celine and Dias finally make their triumphant return, as they stumble across Crawd and Rena, who have just crashed their ship into the planet like the others (which Precis and company learn wasn't coincidental). Just as in the game, Crawd falls ill with a dangerous virus, and the story wraps up with some tried and true dungeon exploring as Rena, Celine, and Dias battle through hordes of monsters to find the medicinal herb that can cure Crawd. As a neat little bonus, volume 5 also has a 4-page "Illustration of Star Ocean Blue Sphere" section at the end, which contains some cute scenes that I imagine Aoi Mizuki had no other use for. One picture has Ernest and Bowman lounging around, so it's nice to see their faces after so long.

Star Ocean: Blue Sphere Official Manga Volume 6 - Cover - Sample Art
Published by: GanGan Comics
Artist: Aoi Mizuki
Length: 192 Pages
Date of Release: November 22, 2004
Size: 17.5 x 11 cm
Yen Price: 390
ISBN: 4-7575-1295-3
Personal Opinion on Product - As the story draws closer to the final conflict, the cast begins to merge in preparation, but Precis, Ashton, and Leon are still off in their trio (although, you dragons fans will be pleased to learn that Gyoro and Ururun finally took notice of what's going on and expanded, so they're no longer tiny little, forgotten blobs on Ashton's back). However, for the first time in quite awhile, they take a backseat in this volume, as the others venture deep into Leviabor. As they ascend the virtually endless floors, they discover where Ernest has been off to all this time, which Mizuki definitely couldn't have put off any later. So now with Crawd, Rena, Celine, Dias, Opera, and Ernest all together, we got a pretty full team to watch in action, and they need every last person when they reach the top of the tower and unknowingly approach a gruesome showdown so massive that it's broken up into three chapters. In this battle, they face an equal number of Akuma clones, each with a fighting technique that matches the specialties of the heroes, and their struggle is filled with shocking twists and turns. Precis and company have a long journey towards the heavens as well as they travel to Ex Trokia under the sea and ride an elevator clear up to outer space, but much of their time is spent purely on strategy. The high point of their appearances in volume 6 is certainly the ending sequences in which they reach the robot colony Cosmo City and meet a familiar-looking, sweet, young human girl. This is definitely the happiest we've seen Leon in a long time, and you can't help but feel your heart warmed as he finally seems to be at peace. Of course, there's one more volume to go, so it's surely just a lull in the mayhem, but a much appreciated one indeed.

Star Ocean: Blue Sphere Official Manga Volume 7 - Cover
Published by: GanGan Comics
Artist: Aoi Mizuki
Length: 208 Pages
Date of Release: June 22, 2005
Size: 17.5 x 11 cm
Yen Price: 390
ISBN: 4-7575-1430-1
Personal Opinion on Product - Here we are at the final volume, but I wish this wasn't the end. Volume 7 does what you'd expect it to. We gain a lot of insight on the nature of the villains, as Precis and company race to the innermost sanctum. The fate of Crawd and crew after the horrific battle in volume 6 is still up in the air, so all is left on the shoulders of our main trio. The final battle, split over two chapters, is predictably epic but also poignant, especially down to the final blow. Then we're left with two post-battle chapters loaded with both farewells and reunions, which tug at the heartstrings and may seem almost too saccharine and perfect yet the story couldn't have wrapped up better. But I don't want to talk details here. I want to talk about the impression the series as a whole has left upon me. You know, going into this series, I didn't expect a whole lot from the initial sillyness it started on. Sure, I expected an enjoyable time traversing this adventure, not unlike the cheerful romp through Star Ocean: Second Story's colorful, almost childish manga series, but ultimately, it truly caught me by surprise. I never expected to be so involved, so touched, so overjoyed and so heartbroken at times. I never expected to see the characters grow so much, and in such a deep, genuine way. Not just from the two years between this adventure and the first, but also over the course of this series, and even in the final chapter, which takes place yet another two years later. In this conclusion, Precis, now 20-years-old, remarks about how Ashton is still Ashton, and she's right, every character does retain the nature of who they are, yet such a delicate refinement has taken place. Truly, our cast has grown up into mature adults, including those who were already adults by age. Heck, even that goofball Radol became more than just a wandering joke and grew dear to my heart. Every character has experienced true suffering, both emotional and physical (and the visuals make the latter quite clear with effectively shocking moments of light gore), and they've become all the more beautiful and multifaceted for it. Do I sound a little silly talking about a video game manga like this? Maybe so, and if I hadn't experienced it myself, I'd agree. But once you read through it yourself, you'll see that Mizuki is no ordinary mangaka, and this is truly some masterful storytelling.

Star Ocean: Blue Sphere Premium Stories Manga Volume 1 - Cover
Published by: GanGan Wing Comics Special
Length: 148 Pages
Date of Release: February 27, 2002
Size: 6 x 8 Inches
Yen Price: 838
ISBN: 4-7575-0623-6
Personal Opinion on Product - Despite the rather blechy cover (which actually made me wonder if it was a doujinshi when I first saw it due to its Photoshop amateur look), it's still a damn good manga. Each of the eleven stories has a different artist, so there are many different styles present in the book. The first story, which contains a few colored pages, focuses on Leon and Dias, and it sort of has a "shonen ai" (boy love) feel. The yaoi-ish artwork style makes the sexual tension all the more apparent. Not to scare anybody off from the book, though; there's no sexual stuff whatsoever. Most of the other stories focus on Ashton and/or Precis, as to be expected. Some of them are serious while others are kind of goofy (like Precis and Ashton trying to cook). The book ends with a story about Crawd and Rena crash landing into the Blue Sphere planet, and Crawd gets deathly ill after being attacked. It's just like the event in the game. The only downside to this comic is that you get to see very little of some of the characters. At least it's not Crawd and Rena obsessed like the Star Ocean: The Second Story comics, hehe.

Star Ocean: Blue Sphere Premium Stories Manga Volume 2 - Cover - Back
Published by: GanGan Wing Comics Special
Length: 148 Pages
Date of Release: May 27, 2002
Size: 6 x 8 Inches
Yen Price: 838
ISBN: 4-7575-0672-4
Personal Opinion on Product - At first glance, volume 2 of Star Ocean: Blue Sphere's Premium Stories series appears to repeat the mistakes of the original. Yep, that's the same less-than-spectacular artist behind the cover, and this one also hands the colored pages over to the artist with the bizarre, unpleasant style. In fact, much is nearly identical. Same number of stories, colored pages, and total pages, and roughly half of the original's artists make a return. However, upon closer inspection, it's clear that volume 2 does improve upon the formula. Most of all, I appreciate the variety. Volume 1 had story after story focused on Precis and Ashton, yet in volume 2 darn near every character gets a lead role in a story (except for, say, Noel and Ernest, but hell would have to freeze over for any artist to consider giving them leads, sadly). I especially find the Chisato representation refreshing, which helps to balance out her absence in the main manga series. Story concepts are a bit more captivating as well. A couple of my faves include the party doing silly things with clones they've made of each other with the Magical Camera and another in which Chisato tries to create a TV channel only to have the party fail miserably at every show they attempt to film. Art can still be a mixed bag, but you always got the main series for consistently amazing drawings. One artistic touch I did take notice of is that the final story portrays Mujin-kun to scale in terms of the robot Precis rides in-game. Sure, I love cute, little, handheld-sized Mujin-kun, but it's still a neat touch.

Star Ocean: Blue Sphere 4-Koma Manga Volume 1 - Cover - Back
Published by: Enix
Length: 127 Pages
Date of Release: September 21, 2001
Size: 6 x 8 Inches
Yen Price: 571
ISBN: 4-7575-0532-9
Personal Opinion on Product - The Star Ocean: Blue Sphere 4-koma comics are very similar in style to other Enix-published 4-koma manga. Like pretty much all of the others, they start off with 16 color pages done by a variety of artists, and after that, each artist gets his or her own small section for several 4-panel strips and a final page for free talk where the artist will often have a cartoon portrayal of him/herself, some comments about the game like favorite characters or such, and some nice drawings that are a bit fancier than those you see in the strips. In this particular book, most of the gags aren't visual, so those who aren't fluent in Japanese and/or aren't VERY familiar with the game will likely struggle to get the jokes. Also, as is the case with most 4-koma manga, the art on the whole isn't anything to get too excited about, but considering most of the art has to be squished into tiny panels that are no more than a couple inches tall and wide, you can't blame the artists for that. However, there are some funny strips involving the fuzzy Moja enemies from the beginning of the game, and my favorite section is by artist Tarou Sakamoto. This guy draws both the women and men in skimpy outfits and in a bizarre style that's hilarious yet so disturbing. :P You haven't lived until you see Ernest and Noel in Speedos (or Gyoro in a bra, for that matter), hehe. Equally weird, Sakamoto draws the almighty Tria (who has only been referenced to by words in the games), but rather than portraying a goddess like the games elude to, it's a caricature of our beloved founder of tri-Ace, Yoshiharu Gotanda, as "Lord Tria" with a halo over his head, and the drawing is just... beyond words. :)

Star Ocean: Blue Sphere 4-Koma Manga Volume 2 - Cover
Published by: Enix
Length: 127 Pages
Date of Release: December 7, 2001
Size: 6 x 8 Inches
Yen Price: 571
ISBN: 4-7575-0581-7
Personal Opinion on Product - The second installment in the Star Ocean: Blue Sphere 4-koma series sticks with what works, so virtually every comment that can be said about the original also applies here. It's still somewhat lacking in visual humor, at least in terms of gags that'll really make you laugh out loud. As always, those fluent in Japanese will definitely be able to get more out of it. Of the jokes that are easy to grasp, some gags are a bit too predictable, so not too many got an actual audible chuckle out of me. It's hard to pick out any single theme as being especially prominent in this volume as everything is about equally varied, but the use of the Bunny Computer, which states the highest combo, is my fave (several artists also lament about their lame combos in the free talk pages). This time around Kouji Uzurano's section was the funniest to me. He's got one of the weirdest artistic styles of all the people involved in the series, which results in some hilarious facial expressions. I actually laughed the most at Uzurano's portrayal of himself, in which he attempts to create an item through Metalwork. I'm well familiar with the way his situation quickly degrades as his thumb mashes like mad on the D-pad, haha.

Star Ocean: Blue Sphere 4-Koma Manga Volume 3 - Cover
Published by: Enix
Length: 127 Pages
Date of Release: March 22, 2002
Size: 6 x 8 Inches
Yen Price: 571
ISBN: 4-7575-0627-9
Personal Opinion on Product - In volume 3 of the Star Ocean: Blue Sphere 4-koma manga series, a lot of the gags are more visual-based, which is a good thing because not only are they more accessible to those not fluent in Japanese but they're also just as hilarious and clever as any text-based joke. Chisato's robotic pet dog Maibo and Bowman's baby daughter Elis are popular topics in this issue, and while I'm not a fan of those hokey Sony Aibo toys, I got to admit that the strips about Maibo are just great. The Elis strips are fantastic too since she's so cute, and they're always very funny. What can I say, combining Bowman's personality with a newborn baby's shenangins is a formula for comedy gold, hehe. Artist Takako Okamura seems to have a fondness for the goofy item creation failure items with the big eyes and lips, and heck, even if you don't get the jokes, just the way the artist draws them is enough to make you laugh your butt off. Also interesting about this volume is that a couple artists make references to the original Star Ocean, with drawings of Ratix and Marvel (the latter appears to be Celine in Marvel's dress, actually).

Star Ocean: Blue Sphere 4-Koma Manga Volume 4 - Cover
Published by: Enix
Length: 127 Pages
Date of Release: July 19, 2002
Size: 6 x 8 Inches
Yen Price: 571
ISBN: 4-7575-0729-1
Personal Opinion on Product - This issue of the Star Ocean: Blue Sphere 4-koma series is a good progression from the last volume. Overall, the quality of the art seems to be slowly improving between each issue, and this one expands on volume 3 with even more (and funnier) strips about Elis, Maibo, Moja, Mujin-kun, and all the other great comedy fodder topics (love the 200 tissue combo :) ). Noel's Panda!! spell has also become a somewhat popular topic, much to my delight, as has the theme of chicks hatching out of eggs while being stirred in a pot (no, don't worry, they're not cooked alive; the strips always result in something very cute and hilarious.) In this volume, the lead-in strips (the full page ones at the beginning of each artist's section) also really start to shine. Two of them are among my absolute favorite strips from all the 4-koma books combined. One is about the aforementioned baby chick hatching while Dias is cooking, which he sets free and reunites with under unusual circumstances later, and the other is about Bowman, thinking he's met his match in battle only to get inspired to kick some Gabriel ass by imagining missing out on Elis growing up. Of course, since I'm not spoiling the gags, they don't sound quite as awesome as they are, so just trust me, hehe.

Star Ocean: Blue Sphere 4-Koma Manga Volume 5 - Cover
Published by: Enix
Year of Release: 2002
Size: 6 x 8 Inches

Star Ocean: Blue Sphere Official Game Novel - Cover
Published by: Enix
Author: Takashi Umemura
Length: 335 Pages
Date of Release: October 12, 2001
Yen Price: 933
ISBN: 4-7575-0547-7
Personal Opinion on Product - When they say "novel", they ain't kidding. Most Japanese game novels that I've come across contained at least a handful of original illustrations scattered about to spice things up, but not so here. Other than some recycled Mayumi Azuma official character portraits, you get nothing but a thick tome of text. Unless you know Japanese well enough to read a book or you're a Star Ocean: Blue Sphere fan that has to have it ALL, there's no need to waste shelf space on this one.

Star Ocean: Blue Sphere Mediaworks Game Novel - Cover - Cover With Spine Card
Published by: Mediaworks
Author: Masaru Takeuchi
Artist: Kouji Nakakita
Length: 232 Pages
Year of Release: 2001
Yen Price: 600
ISBN: 4-8402-1979-6
Personal Opinion on Product - What the Mediaworks novel lacks in size in comparison to Enix's novel, it makes up in flair. While neither offer much to those who can't read a full book in Japanese, the Mediaworks book at least offers a smattering of original art from illustrator Kouji Nakakita, whose abilities may leave a little to be desired but still offer a unique take on the original designs. You'll only find four drawings mixed in with the story, but the best selling feature would be the foldout "poster" (if a foldout smaller than a standard sheet of paper counts as a poster), which has a full-color character collage on one side and monochrome character bios on the other. Nakakita takes some liberties with the source material, with Crawd looking like a girl, Ernest like Dracula, and the most disturbing rendition of Mujin-kun I've ever seen, haha. It's not a lot, but it's interesting enough to amuse us gaijin that sadly can't appreciate the novel as intended.

Star Ocean: Blue Sphere 2003 Calendar - Cover - Sample Page

GanGan Versus Neo Trading Cards - Large Group - Group 2 - Group 3 - Close-up - Close-up 2 - Close-up 3 - Close-up 4

Star Ocean: Blue Sphere Post Card - Front
Published by: GanGan
Illustration: Aoi Mizuki

Star Ocean: Blue Sphere GanGan Powered Post Cards - Two Cards
Published by: GanGan Powered
Illustration: Aoi Mizuki
Personal Opinion on Product - Well... it's a post card. Yeah. Okay... bye! Alright, alright, even if there's nothing to "review" about the cards that you can't see for yourself (there's nothing on the reverse of interest), I can at least give you some back story. These were given out as freebies in the manga magazine GanGan Powered. As you can tell by the non-sequential numbers, they're a part of a GanGan Powered post card series that included cards related to lots of different manga properties. These Star Ocean: Blue Sphere cards came along relatively early in the series. I can't say for certain that these are the only two related to Star Ocean: Blue Sphere, but no others have surfaced up thus far. Not very exciting, I know, but they're cute and make a nice collectible since they weren't sold individually. I only have the one with Precis and Rival myself, but it's not like there's going to be anything vastly different about the other.

Star Ocean: Blue Sphere Manga Phone Card 1 - Front
Published by: GanGan
Illustration: Aoi Mizuki
Year of Release: 2001

Star Ocean: Blue Sphere Manga Phone Card 2 - Front
Published by: GanGan
Illustration: Aoi Mizuki
Year of Release: 2002

Star Ocean: Blue Sphere Manga Phone Card 3 - Front
Published by: GanGan
Illustration: Aoi Mizuki
Year of Release: 2003

Star Ocean: Blue Sphere 4-Koma Manga Phone Card - Front (crop)

Star Ocean: Blue Sphere Famitsu Phone Card - Cover - Inside - Close-up
NOTE: Notice that the artwork is the prototype Star Ocean: Blue Sphere artwork, not the final official Mayumi Azuma designs. Considering the Christmas theme, it's safe to say this card was created around December, while Star Ocean: Blue Sphere came out in June of 2001. My best guess is that it was some sort of promotional item that came out several months before the actual game was released, perhaps as part of a Famitsu contest. Take note that the message on the inside is supposed to be written by Precis, hehe.

Star Ocean: Blue Sphere T-Shirt - Shirt & Paper Slip - Close-up
NOTE: I'm not too sure about the story of this t-shirt either, but like the Christmas phone card, it appears to be associated with Famitsu (as well as Enterbrain) as indicated on the paper slip accompanying the first photo. Like the phone card, it could be a promotional item and/or a contest prize, but there's no way for me to be absolutely sure at this time. However, since I've seen this and the phone card multiple times, I don't imagine it's extremely rare (but still much rarer than, say, the official manga).

Promotional Poster - Entire Poster - Close-up - Close-up 2
Size: 20 x 28.5 Inches
Personal Opinion on Product - I feel kind of silly writing a mini-review on a poster, considering, when it comes to posters, what you see is what you get, for the most part (the saying "a picture is worth a thousand words" also comes to mind). However, there remains something to be said about the sheer quality of the Star Ocean: Blue Sphere promotional poster. When you run your hand across it, you can feel the quality of the paper. It's thick, without being coarse or stiff, and it's exceptionally glossy. All this is especially impressive when you consider that the poster's purpose was largely to just be hung up in retail stores to promote the game's release and then chucked in the trash when something newer came along. American promotional posters, like the Star Ocean 3 posters which were actually produced to be saved and appreciated by consumers who pre-ordered the game, just seem like flimsy, cheap crap in comparison (and I don't even mean that as an insult to those posters because I do enjoy them too, just nowhere near as much). If you can manage to still find one of these posters after all these years (I probably never would've gotten one if not for a very kind friend), it's oh-so worth it, especially to display in a frame (just make sure it doesn't get faded) and to bask in the rich, vibrant colors and the glory that is Star Ocean: Blue Sphere. :)

GanGan Comics Advertisement Item - Entire Item

Recycle Recital Doujinshi - Cover - Back - Sample Art
Unlicensed Product
Circle: SB Stripes
Length: 18 Pages
Date of Release: August 9, 2002
Size: 7 x 10 Inches

NOTE: I have no idea why it's called a "Star Ocean Second Story Only Book" considering all the pictures I've seen of it are ONLY Blue Sphere designs.

July 2002 Issue of Shounen GanGan - Cover
NOTE: The Star Ocean: Blue Sphere manga series by Aoi Mizuki was originally serialized in Shounen GanGan. In each issue, until the series was finished, a few chapters would appear. This is how most manga series originate, but once the chapters are compiled and put together in their own independent books, there's little reason to collect the magazines (I'd say they fall into the same category as game magazines that feature coverage or advertisements for tri-Ace games; cool to have but not really tri-Ace collectibles). The books are higher quality than the magazines, of course, too. This July 2002 issue is only notable because, in addition to the few chapters of the series, it also features a spiffy Star Ocean: Blue Sphere cover.