After Chainsaw Man and Fire Punch, Tatsuki Fujimoto returns with Look Back. What is this one-shot worth? We tell you everything in our review.
While it will be celebrated during the Angoulême Comic Strip Festival this weekend, French readers can discover Tatsuki Fujimoto’s latest manga, Look Backsince Wednesday, March 9 at Kazé editions.
After Volcanic Shōnen chain saw man and Fire Punchthe mangaka wanted to allow us to breathe a little with Look Back. With this one-shot “slice of life”Tatsuki Fujimoto strikes a blow again and establishes himself as one of the best mangakas of his generation.
Look Back: “draw, bugger andouille”
In Look Back, Fujimoto takes us to meet Fujino and Kyômoto, two teenage girls passionate about drawing. Between rivalry and friendship, the young girls are united by a special bond that will change their lives forever. Yet they are the opposite of each other. The first is a drawing prodigy, is outgoing and has an unshakeable confidence in herself. The other doubts his talent and hides in his room for fear of others.
Despite their differences, they find a balance and demonstrate an unparalleled complementarity when it comes to exercising their talent (but not only). We follow their evolution as designers, projects in their heads, stars in their eyes.
In reality, Fujimoto’s latest work is neither more nor less than a love letter to mangakas and more generally an ode to enthusiasts. Look Back is touching and poetic. The author reminds us that a simple encounter, a banal action can change everything.
“Walk in my footsteps and we will grow together!”
During the 140 pages of Look Back, we let ourselves be carried away by the story. Yet, one could say that not much is happening. We are far from the explosive shōnens to which the mangaka has accustomed us. But Tatsuki Fujimoto masters the narration to perfection and takes us into this new universe filled with melancholy with disconcerting ease.
Finally, there is little dialogue in this one-shot. But they are not necessarily necessary: the few bubbles are relevant to the story and are enough to measure the extent of the relationship of the protagonists. There is no need to overdo it, it would be superfluous.
While he gives us a graphic novel on the passion for drawing, Fujimoto also gives us a master class on the art of storytelling. Two disciplines ultimately not so far apart…
Paradoxically light and devastating, Look Back is a short but intense story. With a final twist at the height of the genius of the mangaka. Needless to say.
A graphic slap
Whether it is in chain saw man or in Fire Punch, Tatsuki Fujimoto has already shown us his talent for drawing. Again, the features of the mangaka are powerful while being fine and precise.
The different boards of Look Back are sublime. So much so that most are self-sufficient to convey the author’s message. Like silent witnesses of passing time. Fujimoto has fun representing its protagonists with hunched shoulders, over the days and years. Some pages (including a double-page) are breathtaking. As in his previous works, we delight in the cutting that gives volume to the artist’s drawings. Which supports the plot brilliantly.
An autobiographical touch
Beyond a true ode to manga, Look Back is also a very personal work. There are many autobiographical elements. Some more obvious than others. We can start with the names of the two protagonists: Fujino and Kyômoto. The latter placed end to end give Fujimoto, the surname of the mangaka.
Next, Look Back also echoes the career of Fujimoto, who drew his first one-shot at just 17 years old. This one had also been nominated for a prize in December 2011. And for those who did not know, the mangaka is a graduate of the University of Art and Design of Tōhoku in Yamagata, the province in which takes place the plot.
Without saying too much, in Look Backthe mangaka also refers to the Kyoto Animation arson attack that took place in 2018. It is difficult to know if Tatsuki Fujimoto knew some of the victims, but this tragedy shook many artists in Japan.
Finally, this one-shot is a real dive into the horrors of artistic creation, the weight of decisions and behind the scenes of manga. The working conditions of mangakas are specific. It all starts with a passion, a desire to tell a story. But the frantic pace expected, with weekly preprints in general, can put off more than one. This topic is discussed in more detail in Bakuman by Tsugumi Ōba (Death Note) corn Look Back allows us to approach it on the surface.
Look Back is a nugget to read urgently
With Look Back, Tatsuki Fujimoto enchants us once again. Both sweet and devastating, this one-shot is an excellent surprise. Narration, drawings, everything is mastered to perfection. And it is a real pleasure for the readers.
The author titillates us with a comforting melancholy and sweetness to better overwhelm us and leave us with a gaping hole in our chest when we close the manga. Look Back is a moving parenthesis, published on March 9 by Kazé editions, and which should appeal to the greatest number.