Thursday, December 22, 2011

Manga Review: Genkaku Picasso (volumes 1 and 2)

Some more manga that I checked out from the local library near my school, they only had the first two volumes sadly, I much prefer to review short series like this all in one go, and I had heard rather good things about this series so of course I had to pick it up and try it. I had actually come across the first volume a few months earlier in a local bookstore and thought about getting it but decided that I wanted to check it out first which in retrospect seems like it was a pretty good idea.
Genkaku Picasso by Usamaru Furuya

 Summary: Hikaru Himaru, called Picasso by his classmates for his drawing ability, and his friend Chiaki died one day in a freak accident. Chiaki makes a deal with god however and Picasso can keep on living, with her as a shoulder angel of sorts, if he uses his amazing drawing skills to see the darkness within people and help them change. The problem is that Picasso hates helping others and he isn’t very good at it, at this rate will he be able to keep living on his borrowed time?

The Good: The second volume is a bit longer than a normal manga volume which is because this series knows how to pace itself and doesn't drag out or stuff in more information than it can handle into a chapter. Most arcs are only one chapter long but some are two chapters and each time that occurs it feels like a smart choice by the manga-ka, not like their editor told them to draw something out. The inner problems the characters face are interesting, some of them made me roll my eyes but most of them seemed like realist(-ish*) problems.

The Bad: Each chapter (or two chapter arc) follows a very basic and easy to predict formula which started boring me by the end of the first volume. And, while being formulaic isn’t necessarily a bad thing being boring is. There doesn’t seem to be an overarching plot and each story seems to be resolved too quickly and neatly, in short it barely feels like there’s even a conflict in this series. Since there is just one more volume in the series I would be willing to read that to see how it ended but if there were say, at least another three more volumes then I would simply drop it instead.

The Art: The art is what I see praised about this series the most and it is very different from what you normally find in a shonen manga. Super detailed and it evokes the feeling of pencil sketches (probably intentional since the main character does all his drawings in pencil) it’s interesting to look at. The artistic representations of people’s inner selves were a bit too gruesome for my taste but regardless it was nicely done.

I started reading the final volume in a local bookstore, I believe I got through the first arc, and I am a big concerned since that seemed like the exact same thing as the previous two volumes, maybe it pulls a surprise, quick ending out of the last chapter or two? I'll try to read the rest of the series since I am genuinely curious about it but I won't be heartbroken if I don't get a chance either. 

*I say "ish" because a lot of the characters problems felt like very Japanese problems (concerning how you view/react to society and such) and I don't think like or really empathize with that viewpoint much.

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