I had the Street Fighter art book that came out 5 years before this one, and up until now, regretted selling it when I needed extra money. It had practically every bit of official artwork related to Street Fighter, along with tons of other pieces that were for Japanese magazines and promotions- things we never got to see in the US until everything was a click away thanks to the internet. SF20 has everything that book had and much, much more, and it goes without saying that any fan of Street Fighter needs to track down a copy before it becomes even harder to find (it went out of print in the last couple of weeks).
Divided into chapters by artist, SF20 is a sight to behold. Akiman, Nishimura, CRMK, Ikeno, Daichan, Edayan, Shinkiro and many others all have their artwork from the SF games that they worked on. From character portraits to promotional calendars, there was never a dull moment on any page. Even simple black and white drawings or rough drafts had me analyzing everything that I saw, and I appreciated the time that went into even the most basic character designs. If you remember an illustration from an instruction manual, or even an ad in a comic book that had something to do with Street Fighter, you'll find it here.
Every game up until Street Fighter 4 is covered here in one way or another, and the only time non-SF characters appear is if it's in a group shot, and that's understandable. An example being Hsien-Ko or Felicia showing up in a group shot for Puzzle Fighter, but you won't see individual drawings of them anywhere. Yep, they did a great job being strict on trying to only show the SF cast, and I appreciate that. I also loved reading the little notes from the artists, found on 3/4 of the pages, giving us an insight on what they were thinking about when working on a piece, or talking about how tough the deadline was and what they did to make things go in their favor. At the end of each chapter is a short interview with the artist, but it's a bunch of basic questions like who they liked drawing the most, what SF character they play as, etc.
The only negative things I can say about this book would be that there are some typos here and there, and that I wish it would've been divided into sections by both game and artist. But those are very minor complaints, and after looking through the book long enough (I think I spent 3 hours going through everything slowly), you recognize individual styles and should quickly find what you're looking for if there's something you want to show a friend. Also, if you can, track down the hardcover version. The paperback is nice, but the binding isn't that strong and it cracks very easily. The hardcover version isn't even listed on Amazon, but it's out there, and was a limited edition.
What more can I say? This book is full of beautiful art, and just when I thought I'd seen the best picture of Chun-Li ever, another one would show up, and then another. SF20 is easily one of my favorite art books, and I'm wondering if a SF25 could be even better.