By Satoko Kiyuduki
Yen Press, 120 pp.
GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class is a four-panel manga featuring a group of five moe-style girls enrolled in a graphic design course, possessing unique personalities that are used at one point in the comic to illustrate different tones of a single color. The characters are motherly Namiko, tomboyish Tomokane, serious Miyabi (aka “Professor”), glasses-wearing Kisaragi, and fashion-plate Nodamiki. As the five girls go through their studies, learning about color, technique, and tools of design (from paints to computers), they also have a lot of fun, both with their tools (painting the linings of their school uniforms, for example, which brings about unintended consequences) and with the trappings of ordinary school life.
Though the author claims, “… regarding the art information in this manga: You shouldn’t really trust it,” there is still a lot to learn for those of us with no knowledge of color or techniques at all, and that’s actually the greatest draw of this manga for English-speaking readers. Though the comic strip is obviously humorous, as with many four-panels, the translated jokes are very much hit or miss, with more misses than hits in this particular case. The characters are a fun and whimsical mix and the volume is enjoyable, but outside of the genuinely interesting artistic instruction and related jokes (about mold growing in the poster paint, for example), there isn’t any other element that consistently succeeds.
The artwork is standard moe fare–tiny girls with giant eyes, generally indistinguishable from each other aside from their hair and accessories–and as such, rather bland. The book’s frequent color pages fare better, both in general expression and in their ability to convey ideas about art.
Though GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class is not stunningly humorous or emotionally engaging, it has some fun moments and a wealth of interesting information for those curious about art.
Review copy provided by the publisher. Review originally published at PopCultureShock.