Review: Genkaku Picasso, vol. 1-3

Hikari only has one friend – Chiaki. Otherwise his classmates only stop ignoring him long enough to give him the nickname Picasso – because he draws constantly – before going back to forgetting about him. But when Hikari and Chiaki are in a horrific accident, Chiaki’s dying wish is for Hikari to live. And he does, but that life comes with a price: he must use his drawing ability to help his classmates or he will rot and die permanently. Luckily Chiaki came back as an angel-like being to help him out!

As you can tell from the plot summary, Genkaku Picasso is a series that needs to have strong art. Luckily Furuya is more than capable of producing that. His amazing eye for detail means that the pictures Hikari draws are magnificent works of abstract art. Some of the best images in all three books are the ones that Hikari plucks from his classmates’ minds and then puts down on paper. They are look like they were done in pencil, rough edges and all, without the cleanliness of pen and ink. That is a nice touch which helps distinguish them from the main body of art. When Furuya draws Hikari’s real world – rather than the fantastical ones he sees – the art is more manga standard, though even there Furuya doesn’t make things too cartoonish. His sight gags, especially when Picasso is nervous or flustered (which he often is), are funny and contrast nicely with the precision of the art in Hikari’s sketchbook.

In the beginning of book three Furuya says, “The kids that appear in Picasso are my alter egos. I passed through adolescence with similar worries, so I feel like drawing this story was therapeutic for me.” Furuya clearly knows how teens think and what kinds of things trouble them. He keeps things from being too serious in the beginning by starting with lighter concerns and then working up to more problematic ones. That’s not to belittle any of the characters’ struggles, though. They are all dealing with real problems faced by real teens, whether smaller–disagreements with parents, extreme shyness, desire for a boyfriend or girlfriend–or larger–gender identity disorder, trama from childhood, etc. Despite the fantasy elements of the story, these problems are handled sensitively and realistically, and Furuya is even able to add touches of humor which make his characters more than just stereotypes.

The series is only three volumes long, but they are thick volumes and the longer page count gives Furuya plenty of time to build his characters into three-dimensional people….

This review was originally posted at Good Comics for Kids. Please visit the original post to see the rest of the review.

Genkaku Picasso, vol. 1-3
Usamaru Furuya
Vol. 1: ISBN 978-1-4215-3675-0
Vol. 2: ISBN 978-1-4215-3754-2
Vol. 3: ISBN 978-1-4215-3920-1
VIZ, 2010-2011