Manga Review: Behind the Scenes Vol. #4

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

Back Cover Blurb

Ryoji Goda is everything Ranmaru wishes he could be — self-assured, competent and cool. But when the Art Squad works the final film camp of the summer, Ranmaru gets to see a whole new side to his idol — disappointing son! Goda’s dad seems to criticize everything his son does, and they fight constantly. Finally Ranmaru and Goda have something in common! But the pressure of paternal disapproval pushes Goda to do something shocking that might change the Art Squad forever…

The Review

The stories in this series have been dominated by various film- and director-related challenges for the Art Squad. Volume 4 also contains problematic film directors (indeed, the Squad’s yet to encounter one who’s a competent and reasonable human being), but Hatori-sensei takes a slightly different angle by focusing on the Squad members’ family backgrounds. The first is a single chapter arc about Ranmaru’s family—not the aunt and cousins he boards with but his fisherfolk parents and sister. The setup is a bit farfetched: a director bails on his own project to drown his sorrows in Akihabara, and the Squad are the only members of the entire cast and crew who care enough to hunt him down. In the midst of what feels like an Akihabara tour, the topic of Ranmaru’s family pops up randomly. Then, just as randomly, his parents and sister pop up in the flesh. While wacky characters are a mainstay of this series, Ranmaru’s family goes way off the deep end.

Hatori-sensei does much better with the next arc: two chapters about Goda and his Buddhist priest dad. The Squad’s next shoot takes place in the temple run by Goda’s dad, but that proves more of a hindrance than a help. Apparently, father and son are at odds because Goda refuses to be his dad’s successor. To make things worse, the film director is a childhood acquaintance who’s buddy-buddy with Goda’s dad. While Goda’s family background came as a surprise, it actually works well in explaining his personality. Young Goda’s tonsure photo is pretty funny, too. In terms of the filmmaking aspect of the story, it does a good job explaining the role of an assistant director even though Goda’s abrupt switch from Art Squad to assistant director is a stretch.

Finally, we have the school festival arc! This, like the craft workshop, is a fundraising opportunity for the Squad. Unlike the craft workshop, however, Goda doesn’t limit his team to art-related work. As such, the Squad members get hired out for all manner of activities. In the midst of all the festival contests and booths, we get more background on carefree Izumi, thanks to Soh’s growing attraction toward him. As it turns out, Izumi is more complicated than he appears, and the more we learn, the more improbable it seems that Soh’s feelings will be reciprocated. However, Soh’s crush on Izumi and Ranmaru’s crush on Ruka are the things that keep me wanting to read on at the end of the volume.

Extras include (cute) photos of the dango featured in the festival arc, embedded notes from the creator, glossary, and author bio.


In Summary

It’s the family installment of Behind the Scenes!! The Squad members are pretty weird, and now we get a look at the families and circumstances that made them so weird. Ranmaru’s backstory is simply odd, but the dynamic between Goda and his equally fiery Buddhist priest dad is fun to watch. We get fewer details on Izumi, but it’s enough to completely reshape your perspective on the Squad’s resident chick magnet.

First published at The Fandom Post.


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