Manga Review: Behind the Scenes Vol. #02

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 2, and you can read on for the review. (Reviews of other volumes can be found here.)

Back cover blurb

When the Art Squad is assigned to dress a set, Ranmaru is shocked at how seriously Goda takes the job. Every action figure and empty soda can is placed with utmost care to tell the story of the character who lives there, every sock and towel artfully be-grunged with coffee grounds and fuller’s earth to support the narrative. Ranmaru has always been detail oriented, but isn’t this taking things to the extreme? He’s about to learn that attention to detail can do more than just set the scenes!

The Review

So far, Art Squad projects have been manifestations of various antagonism, but it now appears that Goda treats all requests as challenges, even when they’re not. In the case of their latest Film Studies assignment, one seemingly innocuous word has Goda turning an otaku bedroom set from a low-key job into an intense task that newbie Ranmaru can barely keep up with. Following that, a student actress asks Goda to help her get rid of a clingy boyfriend (by posing as her new boyfriend), and Goda instead drags the Art Squad into Mega-Operation: Filthy Room!!

These two chapters reemphasize what readers already know about Goda: he is completely devoted to his art and his forceful personality somehow sweeps everyone else along. Along the way, readers also get a smattering of set dressing techniques as well as a hint of romantic feelings. At the end of Volume 1, a word of thanks from Ruka put Ranmaru in a fluster, and Volume 2 continues in that vein with Ranmaru’s fluster developing into a crush. However, those looking for a love arc are likely in for a long, drawn out ride. Ranmaru’s too timid to make a move, and while he observes that Ruka might feel something for Goda, she’s not making moves either. As for Goda, he, as Maasa puts it, “loves only art.” So while there is the potential of a love triangle, hardly anything is in motion.

Romance doesn’t seem likely among the other Art Squad members either, judging from Chapters 8 and 10, close-ups on Maasa and Izumi respectively. Maasa desperately wants a boyfriend, but when Ranmaru gets dragged along to a singles meet up, he quickly learns how the Art Squad’s resident gore expert self-sabotages her prospects. As for Izumi, he’s got a gaggle of fangirls but seems neither interested in nor capable of sustaining a deep, intimate relationship. As such, it looks like art will be the sole passion driving the engines of the Art Squad for a while.

Volume 2 also includes a Soh-centric chapter. In Volume 1, Ranmaru’s bossy cousin served mainly to heap disdain on Ranmaru and reinforce his insecurities. Now Hatori-sensei seems as if she’s completely changed her mind about this character. Chapter 9 depicts Soh not as arrogant and self-assured but as depressed as Ranmaru. The 180 in her personality is a lot to swallow, but it does make her interactions with Ranmaru funnier, and along the way, readers get to learn about resin crafts.

Extras include character profiles, embedded notes from the creator, glossary, and author bio.

In Summary

If you thought love entered Ranmaru’s life, think again. He may be harboring a developing crush, but for the most part, he’s just struggling to keep up with Goda’s latest project. In fact, romance seems to be getting nipped in the bud among all his fellow club members, but there’s passion aplenty for their work along with a lot of Art Squad craft techniques.

First published at The Fandom Post.

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