Further updates on the wondrous discovery of Skeb: Funato's posted two more pieces of art in the past couple days, so she's still active on the platform, but commissions are still listed on her page as "stopped" (as opposed to "seeking," which I think is Skeb's version of "commissions open"). I hope that isn't just a placeholder for when you're not signed in to the system via Twitter; a stealth "you can't see actual commission status if you're not signed in" function would be very much in line with the Japanese internet's worst gatekeeping tendencies. Given recent events, I'm paranoid about missing one of the fleeting opportunities during which you're allowed to give artists money, so I'll have to sign up for the glories of Twitter today or tomorrow. (One of the benefits of having your own domains: you can create all the throwaway e-mail accounts for intrusive sign-ups you want.)
Another discovery: you name your own price on Skeb. The platform suggests an amount to offer, yes, but the actual bid for your commission is entirely up to you, and from what I can see, the suggestions don't take into account composition complexity, backgrounds, no. of characters, etc. like the tiered price lists in the world of Tumblr commissions do. I obviously am more than OK with erring way on the side of generosity here, but I know absolutely nothing of pricing in these matters, so I have no idea even what "generosity" constitutes in this case.
Given recent shopping experiences, I probably shouldn't use my own blatantly-Western name when ordering, should I. I feel guilty about that, though. It's Akari Funato! I don't want to lie to Akari Funato!
Back on topic: upon reflection, I realize that I might have only one shot here. There's a huge amount of love invested in that Ghaleon pic (compare the background to her other commissions), but Funato has pretty much shunned Lunar for over 20 years given the initial reception of what is the goddamn masterpiece of the series and overidentification by prospective employers of her own art with the franchise. Given that she's long since carved out an independent reputation as a mangaka, she might have limited tolerance for commissions related to her licensed work, particularly Lunar. So, cost aside, I'm most likely not going to be able to request every Vheen Hikuusen character. I might get through one request, if it's not considered excess after the KSK Ghaleon she posted.
What do I try, then?
- Ghaleon & Dyne: Well, this is the classic, isn't it? My two favorite characters as depicted by their greatest chronicler. It's almost a little too...I don't want to say "rote," because this opportunity is anything but. Obvious, maybe. Though I know I'd be thrilled with the results. I want to object that they've had their share of showcase Funato art, but they really kind of haven't, not in the full-color 2021 CG splendor of the KSK Ghlaeon from that glorious Skeb patron. And yet some part of me wants something more original if this is going to be a single-shot opportunity.
There are also the aforementioned practical considerations: again, while she's very obviously had a lot of affection for Ghaleon in the past, and that Skeb piece proves a generous portion of that love still lingers, Funato is coming off a long period of voluntary withdrawal from Lunar due in great part to not wanting to be pigeonholed as a Lunar artist, and she might be reluctant to do another Ghaleon piece so soon. There are also cases where she's been asked for character pairs in the requests but has drawn only one person. (This might be a facet of pricing, though - she might have simply not been offered enough.) I had also considered asking for just Dyne - with sunflowers or something, definitely in the sunlight, his natural milieu - but I think I'll hold off on this unless I come up with a great, unusual idea. (Ahh, but after writing this, I find I do have an idea - I do have one...)
- Morris: Weirdly, this is the option toward which I'm leaning the most. I've grown to appreciate Morris a great deal with time; he's despite-himself charming, oddly principled, and tragic, yet still takes the time to be an asshole. (Coming back to that four-part Heaven's Corridor fan doujinshi series I mentioned before the break has helped put him on my mind; it writes him an ending that understands the character's expectationless cynicism - the responsible dedication to doing what's right that goes hand-in-hand with the character's utter conviction that it will come to absolutely nothing - so perfectly that I cannot envision it as anything but canon for him.) He's not a character, though, who wins the spotlight, and I think he deserves it for once. Furthermore, Funato might be more inclined to grant a second Lunar request within a single calendar year if it were for a character she created.
- Zain: Part of me really wants to do this. It's not as if Funato hasn't drawn his face before, despite the constant cloaking, but I'd like to see what she'd do with a full-on illustration. Given some of the requests, she might just find another creative way to obscure his face again. This seems like something to pursue, but perhaps later.
I'd ask for him in sky blue, I think. Steelstrings illustrates that, expectedly, it suits him.
- Latona: The problem with Latona is that part of Funato doesn't seem to like her. In her production notes on KSK, she notes marked surprise at how the character elicited sympathy. (Her lot's clearly with the Guildmistress, an admitted expy of Grace King, diva of her Under the Rose series.) Feelings toward characters evolve, but I don't think, unfortunately, Latona is a good bet for my single shot here.
Others Lunar characters I'd try if I had more opportunities: Rena & Wyn, certainly; Funato was the main artist for the initial Game Gear Strolling School game, and the original concept, and the relationships between the school-age characters, have a lot of her warmth. Idol, from the Magic School manga; he's another artist's creation, but he has that depth of feeling and character that's most strongly associated in the Lunar franchise with Funato's characters. I can't ask for Lunar characters ad infinitum, though. Funato wanted to move on, and I have to respect that.
...But I can try to pay for a little looking back now and then.
(Man, I'd like to see Mathias from Neo Angelique in her style. Or to see her take on a completely different art style: Royce Bracket from Transistor? She notes on Twitter that she's playing Hades right now. Luminarise, too!)