Saturday, February 6, 2016

Review: BEHIND THE SCENES Volume 1


MANGAKA: Bisco Hatori
LETTERS: Izumi Evers
ISBN: 978-1-4215-8524-6; paperback (February 2016); Rated “T” for “Teen”
200pp, B&W, $9.99 U.S., $12.99 CAN, £6.99 UK

Bisco Hatori is known for such manga as Millennium Snow and Ouran High School Host Club, both of which were published in English by VIZ Media.  Her new series is the shojo manga, Behind the Scenes!!, which VIZ Media recently started publishing in English.

The series focuses on Ranmaru Kurisu, an 18-year-old who blames himself for everything.  An outcast from a village of fisherman, Ranmaru is not crazy about people and is not crazy about being around them.  He is now a first year student as Shichikoku University (“Shichi U”), and while he initially planned on trying to find a group into which he could fit, he is back to being his old isolated self.  Then, fate brings him into contact with “The Art Squad.”

As Behind the Scenes!!, Vol. 1 (Chapters 1 to 5) opens, it is two months into Ranmaru's college career.  Now, he is sure that he does not want to be around other people.  Then, he bumps into a young woman who is seemingly being attacked by a zombie, which causes Ranmaru to faint.  As things turn out, this incident is simply part of a college movie shoot.

Shichi U has four film clubs and all of them make their own movies.  The Art Squad works behind the scenes creating costumes, building sets and backdrops, designing special effects and make-up and more for these collegiate film productions.  The Art Squad is full of loud and friendly people, and their leader, Ryuji Goda, puts Ranmaru to use helping them.  Is this the group of weirdos that Ranmaru's been looking for all his life?

As a movie buff with an interest in film-making, I am attracted to the Behind the Scenes!! manga.  As far as subject matter, Behind the Scenes!! is similar to Gimmick!, a manga series by Youzaburou Kanari and Kuroko Yabuguchi.  Gimmick! was a mystery series in which the leads used their movie special effects skills to solve cases.

Behind the Scenes!! Volume 1 makes it clear that this series will be light in tone.  What is not clear is its direction.  It is a college-set ensemble comedy with hints of romance and some family drama.  Although he is a male, Ranmaru Kurisu is like a heroine trying to find her way in a new setting.  In this first volume, Bisco Hatori offers lots of friendship building, and she makes the characters intriguing.  I am interested to see where this series goes.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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