For more cynical and world weary manga readers it’s somewhat easy to skip out on any manga sporting the Shonen Jump logo on it. Expectations are low with a near-guarantee of juvenile action stories (I can say it because I love them). But while the heavy hitters such as One Piece and Naruto duke it out at the top of the sales charts, Viz somehow decided to sneak in this bizarre little curio when no one was looking.
Usamaru Furuya may be familiar to more experimental readers from Lychee Light Club which was recently published by Vertical, and Short Cuts from Viz’s own retired PULP line. Both books are aimed at older audiences and depict strong violence, bizarre subject matter and a quirky sense of humour. Even Furuya voices surprise at being published in such a mainstream manner, but despite the change of target audience the artists is still sticking to his creative roots.
Hikari Hamura loves to draw, to the obsessive extent that his classmates nickname him Picasso. He is introverted and hates being distracted from his passion, but due to ‘certain circumstances’ (insert spoiler here) he ends up with the power to be able to sense and draw out the hearts of those around him. He is forced to interact with them more frequently, much to his annoyance, but by entering the world of the drawing he can help people overcome their deep-seated issues and gradually get to know his new found friends.
It’s a strange concept, but one that works safely in Furuya’s technically able arms. His artwork is very strong and switches to a penciled look when Picasso enters one of his drawings, creating a distinct look to both worlds. The surreal figments found within Picasso’s drawings are extremely weird and are gradually interpreted and understood as the chapters evolve. It’s a bit of a psychology session, but moreover it’s about learning to accept oneself and others without getting all emo. In fact its oddball nature and self aware sense of humour makes this a lot of fun. It’s pretty short at 3 chunky volumes so is definitely worth a shot.