Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Akiko Higashimura
"Blank Canvas: My So-Called Artist's Journey" Volume 1 (Seven Seas) is the beginning of Akiko Higashimura's autobiographical series. As is my general policy when reviewing autobiographies, I won't be giving this a numeric rating. It just feels rude to rate someone's actual life. That being said, I really enjoyed this volume and can't wait for the next.

The story itself is quite simple. Akiko is in high-school, terrible at school, horrible grades, and she doesn't care because she fancies herself a brilliant artist and bound for art college. That is, until she finds out she isn't as good as she thinks she is. It starts with taking classes at a small local studio run by a militantly aggressive teacher who actually takes very good care of his students, just in his own mean way. He prods and pushes them to excellence but also shows a deceptive sweet spot for when they are truly suffering. He is their anchor and their buoy.

Akiko is certain she will succeed on recommendation to the college of her choice, but doesn't get in. She ultimately must do the traditional route of multiple auditions. Traveling to small college after small school to find someplace that will accept her. She just wants to be a manga artist, she knows she's great, so why is it so hard for everyone else to notice?

And that is the real beauty of this story. Akiko is so full of herself. That the now-adult Higashimura-sensei is willing to present herself as so brazenly unlikable (but not actually unlikable at all) is wonderful. And yet, I can't help but wonder if the story isn't really about her as much as it is about her art teacher. There are multiple times where Higashimura-sensei talks to this art teacher as if he no longer is around. We also get the sense that the adult Higashimura-sensei might be living in the house that was his art studio during her teen years. Something makes me think this will have a melancholy turn at some point. I can't wait to see how Akiko grows up from being a self-assured brat and into the successful and brilliant Higashimura-sensei.

The art is great as you'd expect from her. Clear character designs with a lot of expression. No one is perfectly perfect, they all feel like real people. The backgrounds are detailed, the use of screen tones and various grays add a lot of depth. The style has realism without being too realistic. And overall, there is just so much emotion and energy on every page.

If you are a fan of Higashimura-sensei's work, or love a story about a bratty art-student, or just want a good manga, then "Blank Canvas: My So-Called Artist's Journey" volume 1 is a great place to start. It was an entertaining read with the promise of more depth to come.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Remember: please talk about the work, and offer counter points to others' analyses but DO NOT ATTACK THE PERSON whose analysis you are countering. (no ad hominem comments) Thanks! <3