Tag Archives: Art Squad

Manga Review: Behind the Scenes Vol. #3

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

Back cover blurb

Ryuji Goda, Art Squad president and sterling example of self-confidence, has become anxiety-ridden Ranmaru’s greatest role model. Surely under the guidance of such a genius, Ranmaru will come into his own? But now a film camp at a remote mansion is putting Goda’s assurance to the test. Is Ranmaru up to the challenge of saving his mentor from his greatest fear—a child?

The Review

In anime and manga, the camp setting is generally used for clubs to practice, train, and bond. However, even though the Art Squad says they are going to “Film Camp” in Scene 11, it’s actually a multi-day shoot at a borrowed vacation house. Aside from the fact that they are staying at the shoot location overnight, the Art Squad is just slaving away for student director Riichi Kai again. In other words, it’s the usual unreasonable demands sprinkled with set design techniques. The only truly new element is that this film cast includes Rin Debito, a child actor (and a paid one at that). While the clash between the snooty Rin and child-phobic Goda is entertaining, Hatori-sensei also tries to paint the kid in a sympathetic light, but Rin’s personal dilemma only makes him come off as inconsistent. As such, when Ranmaru gets Rin back on track with a cliche phrase, the resolution seems much too convenient.

Once film camp is over, we get a chapter dedicated to Tomu. Aside from the fact that he’s a ball of energy and his family’s loaning the Squad studio space, we don’t know too much about him. However, Hatori-sensei fills in a lot of blanks when Tomu and Ranmaru lend a hand to the Modernist Cinema Club. For a simple-minded character, Tomu winds up in rather complicated situations, and it’s fun getting into his brain.

The volume closes with the Squad’s summertime fundraising projects. While these arcs feature the usual art design and crafts, they are different in that the Squad isn’t under the thumb of a director. In other words, we get to see them direct themselves–with hilarious results. Whereas they only dealt with one kid at Film Camp, they field a whole bunch when they hold a craft workshop. Then they tackle something more in line with their skills when asked to create a haunted house. While this project definitely showcases Maasa’s talents, mouse-hearted Ranmaru winds up key to their success in a surprising (and amusing) way.

Extras include bonus mini manga, embedded notes from the creator, glossary, and author bio.

In Summary

Although it’s billed as “Film Camp,” the Art Squad’s off-campus getaway is really just the usual student film set chaos, albeit with a child actor in the mix. However, we do get to see the Squad in a different element when they tackle summer fundraising. A healthy amount of art/craft techniques are, of course, incorporated throughout (including detailed instructions on shrinky dinks), and those curious about the Squad members will get some intriguing glimpses into their personal lives.

First published at The Fandom Post.

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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.

Manga Review: Behind the Scenes Vol. #01

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?

The Review

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.

In Summary

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.