While most manga are written in chapter format, that does not mean the comic strip is unknown to Japanese artists. Known as 4-Koma manga, four-panel comic strips aren’t nearly as widespread as their long-format counterparts, but they are no less entertaining.
One of the few 4-Koma titles translated to English is GA: Geijutsuka Art Design, a lighthearted series centered around five art students. Yen Press has recently released Volume 6 and you can read on for the review. (For reviews of previous volumes, click here.)
Back Cover Blurb
As autumn descends on Kisaragi and her colorful GA friends, the gang goes on a trip…through time! Art history takes center stage as festival season approaches at school, providing the girls with numerous opportunities to display their talents (and madcap antics)! The year might be winding down, but the spirit of the GA class is only just kicking into high gear!
Two staples of school-centered manga are the sports and cultural festivals, and both events show up in Volume 6. The Sports Festival doesn’t offer too much opportunity for the art students to showcase their artistic skills, but Ayanoi High School does include a Obje’t Competition that ultimately winds up a blend of athleticism and creativity. In addition, the GA gang ends up on the other side of the sketchbook as they model sports poses for a classmate.
Art features more predominantly in the Cultural Festival arc with the focus on the Art Club’s 3-D Art House. Most of the Art Club’s exhibits involve optical illusions so these pages contain a lot of clever visual humor. Then we get a view of the entire school festival as the GA girls go out to the crowds to promote the Art House. These pages are very lively and do an excellent job of conveying the bustle and excitement of the festival.
As for the remainder of the volume, only one arc has the girls tackling a class art project (multicolor printing). The rest are a random mishmash, including separate dream sequences for Namiko and Kisaragi and a glimpse of the school back in the early 1970s. Although the stories are cute and entertaining, it does feel like Kiyuduki-sensei is grasping for ideas, especially when the girls pay a visit to the school stable (!?) so that Kisaragi can practice drawing horses.
This volume includes a few sets of color pages describing the major periods of Western art. They include commentary from the GA characters and lists of landmark works.
With the school in festival mode, this volume is less about class assignments and more about our art students interacting in a broader school setting. The Sports Festival Obje’t Competition is a bit of a stretch, but the Cultural Festival is a lot of fun and captures the manic energy that goes into putting on the event. Still, we do get a couple of art history lessons although Kiyuduki-sensei takes a fantastical approach and uses characters’ dreams and a random leap into the school’s past for those arcs.
First published at the Fandom Post.