By Leroy Douresseaux
May 4, 2011 - 9:47
|Genkaku Picasso Volume 3 cover image is courtesy of barnesandnoble.com.|
Rated “T+” for “Older Teen”
He is called “Picasso” by his classmates because of his natural artistic abilities. He and his only friend and classmate, 17-year-old Chiaki Yamamoto, are in a freak accident, but while Chiaki is killed, 17-year-old Hikari Hamura escapes with his life. However, the cost for having cheated death is that Hikari must use his artistic abilities to help people, and when he doesn’t help, his body starts to rot. Chiaki has also returned as a diminutive spirit – Hikaru’s Jiminy Cricket – to spur him into action.
Genkaku Picasso, Vol. 3 is the final volume of the series. Hikari helps a classmate, who became a shut-in and stopped coming to school, find his strength. He helps another rediscover the reason he is so attached to a particular female classmate. In his final adventure, however, Hikari must dive into his own heart.
THE LOWDOWN: Hikari’s adventures are unusual, start to finish. First, when he sees a dark aura around a classmate, he knows that is the sign that this classmate is having some psychological issue – something is bothering him or her. Hikari immediately takes his sketchbook and somehow draws an illustration that symbolizes the person’s problem. Hikaru and Chiaki enter the illustration where they have to unravel the mysteries of the symbols and determine what they mean.
Genkaku Picasso is art-centric, but, of course, comics are a visual, specifically, graphically driven medium. Genkaku Picasso creator Usamaru Furuya uses comic art to grab his readers and engage them in these adventures through the psyche. The storytelling is so rich and inventive on so many levels that it makes you want to grapple with it. I think the series could have run longer than it did, and I am sorry to see it end. Still, because it is relatively short, readers will have the opportunity to experience a unique comic book without having to commit to years (or even months) of serial drama.
POSSIBLE AUDIENCE: Readers looking for unique shonen manga should find and will enjoy Genkaku Picasso.