It is my belief that manga can be art! Usamaru Furuya creates a manga with art and all the pretentious leanings that term can carry!
Writer/Artist: Furuya Usamaru
What They Say
Hikari Hamura, nicknamed Picasso because of his natural artistic abilities, survived a horrible accident, but his friend Chiaki wasn't so lucky. Suddenly, Chiaki appears in front of him and tells him in order to keep living he must help the people around him. Can Hikari save people with his sketchbook and a 2B pencil?
While the concept is not entirely foreign, an artist dies and is brought back to life to use his new found powers to help others, the possibility that the execution brings is something I found very exciting.
Hikari Hamura is an artist, as in the meaning that he likes to draw, etc. His favorite artist is Leonardo Da Vinci but due to a mishap, he spelled his name wrong on his shoe to read Hikaso, he has reluctantly earned the nickname Picasso. Picasso is a total shut in, doesn’t care about other people at all and just wants to draw. The only person who likes him (his return feelings of friendship are sketchy at best) is Chiaki Yamamoto, a girl who finds Picasso fascinating. One day while drawing by a river with Chiaki, a helicopter loses control and crashes killing them both. Picasso apparently survived but comes to find out that Chiaki is now a tiny angel in his pocket (literally) and that he must help others with his art if he wants to live (his body begins to rot after a period of ‘non-helping’).
Furuya could have really taken the cheap and easy way out with this premise and had Picasso’s art saving others in some therapeutic or superficial manner. Instead he adds an interesting layer to the story. Picasso has the ability to see ‘auras’ around other people. Once he sees this aura he is immediately compelled into drawing and ends up sketching a picture of that person’s heart. Again, instead of using the knowledge of what’s in their heart to save the person (kinda cheap), Picasso can go inside the picture and literally within their heart. He has the ability to interact and manipulate components of the picture based on real world knowledge that he gains in order to physically mend their heart.
The most interesting part of this book, to me, was the approach taken towards real art and the interpretation of that art. With real art, such as the real Picasso and Van Gogh, there are multiple interpretations of what the artist was expressing when they made the painting. Furuya does a really good job of adding this interpretive aspect and mixing it into the suspense and intrigue of how Picasso will mend a person’s heart.
With all this talk about art, how is the artwork in Genkaku Picasso? Great! The artwork is very clean and extremely detailed. Based off of samplers from Furuya’s Lychee Light Club (out later this year by Vertical Inc.), there is a definite style to Furuya’s work. I don’t want to say it’s gothic but it definitely has undertones of that movement. Lots of dark contrast and attractive character designs that really lend to creating a world that is very nice to look at. The drawings of people’s hearts? Nothing short of spec-frickin-tacular! You think the real world and the character have nice details that really pop, what until you see these drawings! The level of detail and meticulous positioning of each line and stroke is absolutely beautiful to look at and admire. It really goes along with the whole art motif I was talking about. Sugiura’s heart drawing is something I want blown up and framed on my wall!
The first chapter is by far the best in my opinion because it really took this concept and ran with it. The drawing of Sugiura’s heart was extremely complex and full of meaning; but what exactly was the meaning? The manner in which Picasso and Chiaki try to solve this mystery and then eventually enter the picture to mend Sugiura’s heart was very impressive and extremely intellectually stimulating for me. The remainder of the book however falls very short in this aspect. The ‘heart’ in each chapter is still absolutely beautifully in the artistic sense and the interpretations of each heart are very interesting. The bad part was that Picasso and Chiaki merely act as plot devices for the art and the interpretations. Solving the mystery and understanding the drawing of the heart comes mainly from the growing supporting cast. See, once Picasso enters a picture he can hear the conversations of both the subject and those around them in the real world. The supporting cast are the ones who start unraveling each mystery and Picasso simply reacts within the picture to successfully mend their heart.
Granted that Picasso is still in his shell and has yet to blossom as a person (quite frankly Picasso is a terrible character that by the end of the volume has yet to have my support), I’m just hoping that as he emerges from his shell that he will become more active in the crux of each story cause that is where it really shines.
Genkaku Picasso has some flaws mostly surrounding the main character and the handling of characters, but the artistic aspect and how Furuya shows a more literary mindset in the interpretations of art is what really blew me away. While I can’t stand behind it as a great series everyone should read now; I can wholeheartedly say that I am fascinated by what I have seen and promise that can be.