Hey all, been a while since I wrote here, but I just couldn’t not talk about this, even if briefly.
Off the bat, this is one of the best oneshots I’ve ever read. It’s a gorgeously drawn, emotionally resonant and all-around awesome work by the author of Chainsaw Man and Fire Punch, Tatsuki Fujimoto. Works like these are what I hope to see more of in Shounen Jump in the future.
Before anything else, you should REALLY read it first before reading my review. You can find the oneshot here. It’s only 145 pages long, and a lot of it doesn’t even have dialogue.
TW: Death, Real Life Tragedy
Unlike his over the top previous works, Look Back is a very grounded story focusing on the relationship between an aspiring comedy mangaka and a reclusive artist. Honestly, this review isn’t really a review. It’s more of a rant where I gush over how amazing Fujimoto is at expressing complex feelings through art without words.
And I’m about to ruin it by talking words about it. Writers are the worst!
Fujimoto might be known for wacky, over-the-top concepts like chainsaw demons and post-apocalyptic fire people, but this oneshot solidifies what I’ve always noticed in his work.
He has always had a strong understanding of raw emotion. His art is great at visualizing abstract feelings past things like “sad” or “happy.”
Even with all the excitement, it’s that grounded core that keeps his stories so fascinating and real.
The characters of this oneshot are authentically flawed and relatable. They don’t talk a lot, but you can see through visuals alone how much life they live. Be it working towards their goals-
-or just enjoying life.
Unlike a lot of other manga where the main characters “stand out”, this manga makes a point of how well they fit in their world. They may be the center of our attention, but there is always that constant visual reminder that life goes on for everyone else. There’s a comfort in that knowledge.
The relationship between the two is short but their immediate chemistry is done incredibly well. It doesn’t take long for us to believe that Fujino and Kyomoto are close friends. Fujimoto captures that melancholy feeling of spending time with your childhood friends on a sleep afternoon and working on nothing in particular. Just enjoying the company of another human being.
Now, I wouldn’t be doing my due diligence as an anime fan if I didn’t talk about the tragedy of this oneshot.
The incident at the Yamagata Prefecture Art College, where Kyomoto, among several other students, were murdered by a man who claimed to have had his work “stolen”.
For those unfamiliar, this has an uncomfortable connection to the arson attack on Kyoto Animation. A man, who after being caught, claimed to have done what he did because his work was allegedly plagiarized, set fire to the Kyoto Animation offices. This act cost the lives of 36 people. 36 incredibly talented and hard-working people, whose lives were cut short by one insane man.
The fact that the character’s name in the story is “Kyomoto” and this oneshot was released today, of all days, on July 18th, the two-year anniversary of the tragedy, makes it clear that this oneshot was made in memory of the artists we lost that day.
This oneshot encapsulates everything I love about the medium of manga. The panelwork, attention to detail, thematic storytelling, and character expression are things that manga excels at. Fujimoto makes use of it all to show us a deep look into the lives of the people behind the pages. It’s heartwarming and heartwrenching at the same time, and it all makes me love manga even more.
Honestly, that’s all I can say. There’s honestly not much point in talking about the meaning behind the oneshot. Fujimoto is good enough at showing us through visuals alone.
I can’t wait for MAPPA to fuck that all up with Chainsaw Man.