Genkaku Picasso, Volume 2

Genkaku Picasso, Volume 2Creator: Usamaru Furuya
U.S. publisher: Viz Media
ISBN: 9781421537542
Released: February 2011
Original release: 2009

Genkaku Picasso was the second multi-volume manga series by Usamaru Furuya to be released in English. The first was a seinen gag manga called Short Cuts which, like Genkaku Picasso, was published by Viz Media. Genkaku Picasso is very different from Short Cuts. It’s an example of one of Furuya’s few shōnen manga and is currently his only shōnen series available in English. Furuya is an extremely versatile artist, changing styles, genres, and demographics to suit his needs. He had his start in alternative manga, but Genkaku Picasso, while quirky, is a more mainstream title. Initially serialized in Jump SQ, the second volume of Genkaku Picasso was released in Japan in 2009. Viz Media published Genkaku Picasso, Volume 2 under its Shonen Jump imprint in 2011. I found the first volume of Genkaku Picasso to be intriguing, but more uneven and less compelling than some of the other manga by Furuya that I had read. But with the second volume, the series finds its footing.

After a bizarre near-death experience, Hikari Hamura, given the nickname Picasso by his classmates, finds himself in an even stranger predicament. Chiaki Yamamoto, a victim of the same accident that nearly killed Picasso, is now small enough to fit in his pocket and is sporting angel wings. Picasso himself has gained the ability to see into people’s hearts and minds. Compelled to draw what he sees, he can literally enter into the psyches of others through his illustrations. Using this newfound power, Picasso is able to help his fellow classmates. Not that he really wants to go to all that effort. In fact, he’d much rather be left alone to concentrate on his artwork. But unless he wants to let his arm rot away—another peculiar consequence of his accident—Picasso must do what he can to help those around him. With Chiaki’s assistance and prodding he has successfully resolved some of his classmates problems and has even gained a few friends in the process, but Picasso is still incredibly reluctant to get involved.

Although there has always been an ongoing story in the series, the beginning of Genkaku Picasso felt fairly episodic. However, with the second volume the series starts to become a bit more cohesive. The stories in the first volume seemed to be resolved a little too simply and cleanly, but as Genkaku Picasso progresses it becomes apparent that it’s not really that easy. Picasso has helped some of his classmates (though they are only aware of that subconsciously) but they continue to have problems; he hasn’t solved everything for them. The first volume’s stories had a “one and done” sort of feel to them while the issues in the second volume, even after they are initially resolved, are long-lasting challenges. They are things that the characters may very well struggle with for the rest of their lives. I much prefer this approach since realistically matters of the heart and mind are not so easily mended. I think Genkaku Picasso becomes a stronger, better series with the inclusion of these more complicated and nuanced narratives.

From the very beginning one of Genkaku Picasso‘s strengths has been its artwork, something that continues to be a highlight in the second volume. Furuya uses a variety of art styles in the series. Picasso enters the drawings he creates of other people’s hearts. They are filled with beautiful, surreal, and even disturbing imagery, allowing Furuya to creatively illustrate and explore the characters’ internal states of mind. But probably the greatest reason that I find the second volume of Genkaku Picasso to be more effective than the first is that the problems that Picasso must help to try to solve happen to be more relevant to me personally. For me, many of the stories in the first volume were little far-fetched while those in the second volume are a bit more realistic and universal. Most of them focus on love, romance, gender, or sexuality which are themes that I have a particular interest in. I could personally identify with the characters in Genkaku Picasso, Volume 2 in ways that I previously couldn’t. I did enjoy the first volume of Genkaku Picasso, but I was able to appreciate the second volume even more.


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Comments

  1. I really enjoyed this series, more so as it went on, I think the build up is worth it, though it doesn’t start to show until this volume. I’m still overly impressed with this guys artwork, my only explanation is that he must get off to fantastic art work or something because dude! I love how the inside of paintings has a sketch look and outside has a normal manga look. But omfg, the detail is just staggering! If Viz ever re-released it in an oversized omnibus, I’d buy it again! Just like I bought Uzumaki again (and gave my friend the leftovers because I couldn’t bear to part with them at just a used store or something, much like I couldn’t get rid of that extraneous What’s Michael? volume just anywhere). Just a random thought, I don’t remember which vol has this picture, but there’s a picture of Hikari and Furuya drawing each other into existence and it’s awesome! It’s just like a promo sort of pic, sure it was printed in black and white when it was obviously color originally, but it’s still an awesome pic.

    • I agree! Furuya is a phenomenal artist. I’m always impressed by his range and variety of styles. Genkaku Picasso is a series that continues to get stronger as it goes along. The build up to the final story and how Furuya ties everything together is great. Oh, and the awesome pic you mentioned is at the beginning of the second volume. ^_^

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