Because I can’t really bring myself to read Furuya’s Lychee Light Club, which came out in spring 2011 to critical acclaim, I decided to go with a slightly lighter manga he did, Genkaku Picasso.
I want to be able to read Lychee Light Club, but I have been cursed with becoming dizzy when things become too graphic. Like that fingernail scene in the movie Black Swan. Or… never mind, already starting to feel blechy just thinking about Black Swan. ANYWAY, Shaz read LLC, and she was all, “Uh… yeah, I don’t think you can handle this. I’d have to put post-its over all the more graphic scenes before you can attempt this. With kitten pictures drawn on them.” So, instead I turned to another series that Furuya did, Genkaku Picasso.
(slight spoilers follow in the next paragraph)
Hikari, nicknamed Picasso by the other students due to a misspelling of his name and his love to draw, shuns his classmates, only talking to the pretty Chiaki who goes out of his way to be friendly to him. When Chiaki suddenly dies in an accident, Hikari finds a mini angelic version of Chiaki in his pocket. Chiaki tells him she’s been sent back to save him from dying, by using his artistic ability to look into other people’s hearts and help them with their problems. At first he resists, but when confronted with his impending death (his arm starts rotting), he starts drawing what he sees in his classmates’ auras and begins reaching out to help them.
Furuya’s art here is immensely detailed, unlike many mangaka. He seems to be using two different art techniques in this manga–the “real world” and the “art world” when Hikari is inside the pictures, exploring the art that he drew. The real world is cleaner and sharper, like ink, while the art world is more shaded and sketch-like, like pencils. I really like the sketchy quality of Hikari’s art world. This is also where Furuya’s imagination runs free with Hikari and Chiaki trying to puzzle out the hidden meanings behind the art.
The art gets a little disturbing at times (hints of Furuya’s much darker side), but it’s all completely tolerable levels. Nothing really graphic. It’s more psychologically disturbing (bondage, a dying rabbit, slashed up toys, etc.).
The stories are pretty much self-contained as Hikari helps his fellow students. Sometimes he even goes back and helps them again when something else comes up. You do see several of the students grow though, and of course Hikari himself, as he learns to open up and begins making real friends (much against his solitary nature). And you eventually learn what’s going on with Chiaki and Hikari.
I’ve read this series twice now, and both times had me crying at the end.
This is a short series, completed in a mere three volumes, which is much easier to pick up rather than a daunting 60 volume series (and still going strong) like One Piece. And it’s completely released and available in the US. Such a sadly rare phenomenon these days.