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Genkaku Picasso, Vol. 1 (Usamaru Furuya)

Translated by John Werry
(Viz Media, 2008)

Reviewed by Shweta Vachani

Genkaku Picasso, Vol. 1, is part of a three-volume manga series created by Usamaru Furuya for older teens. Hikaru Hamura, the protagonist of this manga is a 17-year-old boy whose only passion is to sit in one corner and draw elaborate sketches in his sketchbook. Because of this, his schoolmates have named him Picasso, though he personally admires da Vinci more.

Picasso and his friend, Chiaki, are in an accident in which Chiaki is killed and Picasso is left in an extremely peculiar situation. Chiaki reappears to tell him that the only way he can keep on living is by using his artistic abilities to help others. And thus begins Picasso and Chiaki’s adventures that involve saving some of their troubled schoolmates.

There are four visions in the volume, in each of which Picasso and Chiaki save one or two lives. The narration is peppered with humour directed mainly at Picasso, who is a reluctant life saver and not too keen on the popularity that this role brings. Chiaki is an important character too, who not only has an equal hand in many of the saves, but also sets Picasso on the right path many times. It might have been fairer to have her name in the series title too.

The illustrations are breathtaking, especially the ones that Picasso sketches of people’s minds. One has to credit Mr Furuya for the imagination and skill that has gone into creating them. However, one does wish that the stories carried as much depth as the illustrations. The plots of each of them seem predictable and done to death.

This was the first manga that I’ve read and my expectations from it were quite high considering how popular they are around the world. The experience turned out to be a mixed bag for me, but it hasn’t discouraged me from giving them another try. Perhaps this time I’ll try out the ones meant for adults and see how those fare.

RATING: 5/10
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