There are a LOT of anime and manga centered around glamorous idols and movie/TV stars, but what about the humble folk that do the grungy, tedious work behind the camera? The unseen teams charged with creating film sets, costumes, and props are the subject of Bisco Hatori’s Behind the Scenes!! Viz Media has released Volume 1, and you can read on for the review.
Back cover blurb
It’s two months into Ranmaru’s college career, and if he’s learned one thing, it’s that he’s really uncomfortable around other people. But when he stumbles into a zombie mob attack, he’s totally forced out of his comfort zone! Of course it’s just a movie shoot, but when he wakes up from his ignoble faint, he’s been whisked away behind the scenes with the Art Squad! Could this group of weirdos be what Ranmaru’s been looking for all his life?
Hatori-sensei is best known for Ouran High School Host Club, and her latest English-language release is another club manga. However, Behind The Scenes!! is not a story of handsome bucks in the spotlight. Rather, it is about the unseen and often unappreciated individuals that work off camera in the world of film.
Our main character is Ranmaru Kurisu, a first year humanities and sciences major at Shichikoku University in Tokyo. A wimpy fisherman’s son from the boonies, Ranmaru grew up being picked on, never participated in school clubs, and has a massive scapegoat complex. (His eternal catch phrase is “I’m sorry.”) He’s the type of character that gets annoying really fast. Fortunately, within two pages, he literally runs into the Art Squad when he ruins a student film shoot. As payback, Goda, the Art Squad president, forces Ranmaru to help with another prop project and discovers that Ranmaru’s actually quite talented. In fact, all the mishaps in Ranmaru’s life came from others trying to take advantage of his skill at crafts.
Ultimately, this is the story of the village misfit finding a place where he belongs and evolving. Ranmaru needs a lot of help in that respect, and that’s where President Goda comes in. Whereas Ranmaru’s a limp noodle, Goda’s a blazing sword of a personality. He’s a perfectionist with no qualms about bullying others because he sets insane standards for himself. Most Goda/Ranmaru interactions consist of Goda belting orders and Ranmaru freaking out. Fortunately, we have the four other quirky members of the club to provide additional breadth of emotions.
Because they are university students, their schedules are much less structured than a high school student’s. As such, Art Squad members spend seemingly all their time slaving on sets and costumes for the four university film clubs. And even though they’re only college students, the directors have big time egos. Film is a collaborative endeavor, but you wouldn’t be able to tell from the clashes that arise between them and the Art Squad. As such, story arcs are structured that the film clubs play the part of antagonist, making one outrageous demand after another. However, Goda takes those demands as challenges, and as the club tackles them, Ranmaru learns what it’s like to be a part of a team while readers get a peek into the more practical aspects of filmmaking.
Extras include character profiles, embedded notes from the creator, glossary, and author bio.
The Art Squad may play a critical role in their school’s films, but they’re hardly the glamorous type. They’re a high-energy misfit group, the perfect place for a spineless artsy-craftsy misfit from the sticks to brandish his skills. If you’re interested in fun comedy with quirky characters and a lot of snark and screaming with film and art jargon thrown in, give Behind the Scenes!! a try.
First published at The Fandom Post.