Behind the Scenes Volume 4 by Bisco Hatori
I thought the first few volumes of Behind the Scenes were ok but a little rough just due to the somewhat frantic pacing of character introductions and the episodic nature of the plot. I enjoyed the forth volume very much, because it gave me more insight into the background of many of the characters.
The volume opens with difficulties as everywhere Ranmaru goes he seems to be trailed by an eccentric group of people. It ends up being his family in town for a surprise visit. After seeing his lolita sister, his mother the former spy, and his father who is obsessed with social networking and western culture, it is easy to see why Ranmaru fits in so well with the extreme personalities in the art club at school. Ranmaru still has a tendency to look on the dark side of things, and isn’t fully able to interpret his family’s devotion as affection.
This shorter story is followed by a longer episode that showcases the art squad’s ability to get a job done at any cost, as Goda has to work with a director he’s clashed with in the past. The tension is made even worse when it turns out that the perfect location for the shoot is Goda’s childhood home, where his father is still in residence and passing judgement on his son’s chosen path. Becoming an art director is not very similar to Goda’s family tradition of the priesthood! Goda’s approach to finishing up the photo shoot demonstrated both compassion and sacrifice, so perhaps the two careers aren’t as misaligned as someone would think.
I’ve been wondering about Izumi’s breezy personality, and he finally gets some of his history filled in with this volume. The backdrop for this is the manga plot staple of a school festival, but Hatori’s spin on it is to show the art squad continuing to work behind the scenes to ensure that everyone else is a success. I found this volume so much more satisfying with the stories that focused a little bit more on character development than wacky antics. Hatori’s art is polished, and I’m enjoying the slight hints of steampunk illustration that she tucks in to the opening pages of each chapter.