I feel like I need to revoke my "Manga Reader" card because I've never read Chainsaw Man. This is what made Look Back, the latest one-shot by the author Tatsuki Fujimoto, appealing to me. I get to take a look at the mangaka's talents and see just how good they are. When I finished Look Back, I knew Chainsaw Man deserved a shot. If Chainsaw Man is near the same level of artistry as Look Back, it's a must-read.
This story is about the lives of two girls. The first, Fujino, loves to draw manga. Well, she loves the popularity that comes with it, anyway. Her manga in her middle school's newspaper is a hit, and she thinks it's because she's the best. Then Kyomoto, a shut-in who learns from home, starts submitting manga for the paper through the mail. The art is gorgeous, and it makes Fujino realize something: her manga sucks. If she wants to reach Kyomoto's level, she has to work at it.
Months fly by, Fujino buys how-to books, better art equipment, and draws and draws and draws. She compares her new work with Kyomoto's: it still sucks. Thinking she'll never be good enough, Fujino gives up, throwing away her art and her passion. Then one day, a series of events leads Fujino to meet Kyomoto. The book of life turns the page, and nothing is ever the same for either girl again.
What happens next I won't spoil here, but the story further delves into the passion people have for art and human connection. It takes passion to want to draw and continue drawing in the face of pressure from friends and family. It means being an artist can be an isolating experience. Luckily, both Fujino and Kyomoto have each other to share their passion.
But there is another theme that really touched me: time. Time is both a blessing and a curse for Fujino and Kyomoto. Time lets them become better artists and friends. But time also forces them to grow up. Time leaves them with bills to pay, jobs to fill, and futures to plan. Time compels change, and change brings regret. How we all wish time went differently. How we wish time never ends. If this sounds melodramatic, these are the kind of complex feelings this manga brings out of you. This is one of those manga that is published in a shonen magazine, but adult readers might get the most out of it. You will hope the characters don't get weighed down by reality like most adults are. But that's not the story this manga tells, and it's heartbreaking to see.
These themes are expertly communicated via the art. For example, there are pages that show Fujino drawing in her bedroom. The panel layout stays the same; Fujino is always bent over, her back facing the reader, always drawing. Each panel has the same contents… almost. Bits of the room do change. We see more drawing books added and her room getting messy as she focuses more on her work. Seasons change, with the view outside her window changing from sunny to snow-covered as time passes. But no matter what changes, Fujino is always alone. Until Koyomoto comes into the picture. By having these events take pages, as we turn the pages we also feel time passing by and how little and how much Fujino and Kyomoto are able to achieve.
I really enjoyed reading Look Back. Even though most people will pick this up based on it being made by the Chainsaw Man creator, this manga stands on its own as a great work. The story is an emotional tale about writing and friendship. But unlike similar stories about art, it also shows the amount of time it takes to reach success and the true pain of what is lost along the way. Fujimoto proves here that he is a talented artist, using creative panel layouts and detailed art to show the themes and messages he wants to tell. If you like manga such as that, Look Back is a strong recommendation.
The overly confident Fujino and the shut-in Kyomoto couldn't be more different, but a love of drawing manga brings these two small-town girls together. A poignant story of growing up and moving forward that only Tatsuki Fujimoto, the creator of Chainsaw Man, could have crafted.Add to CartLearn More