Genkaku Picasso Trilogy, Vol.
Finished: Jan. 19, 2011
First Published: Nov. 2, 2010
Publisher: Viz Media
Genre: YA, manga, fantasy
I meant to write Hikari Hamura.
Acquired: Received a review copy from Simon and Schuster Canada.
Reason for Reading: The publisher's simple one line tag at pre-publication grabbed my attention and piqued my interest. "Having cheated death, Hikaru Hamura must save himself by using his artistic abilities to help others."
Hikaru, who has been nick-named Picasso, is pretty much a loner type of guy who really likes to spend his time alone drawing in his sketchbook whenever he can. He has one close friend, a girl named Chiaki. They are both in a terrible accident and Chiaki is killed but Hikaru survives. What he soon learns is that he really did die but he has been allowed to live if he uses his drawings to help others. If he lets too much time go by his body begins to rot, starting with his arm. This is the driving force that compels him to help other people, that and Chiaki has come back as a little angel of some sort to be his companion.
I was at first surprised to find that this is not one continuous story but each chapter is episodic being more of a short story centering around the person and their problem that Picasso and Chiaki help out. As the stories move on, he gathers friends and an overall running story arc about the characters begins to take shape. The stories are quite interesting and I must say surprised me in how dark they became as the cover and summary gave no indication of this element. I like dark so this is when the book picked up for me, though some of the themes are a bit on the weird side and this is definitely an older Teen book as recommended by the publisher.
The first story sets up the whole plot of the book, with the accident and Picasso finding out his unfortunate future and helping his first person. The person's problem and resolution were a little far-fetched and I wondered what the rest of the book would be like but I was ready for the next story. We've now picked up Sugiura, a boy, as a friend from the first story and Picasso helps a girl who is a teen model. This story deals with childhood grief and again was a bit out there but the story became darker and we picked up Akane, the girl, as another new friend for Picasso. Next is when things really went dark and weird with the next story where Picasso helps a boy and the story touches on the theme of S&M as well as teens who are loners and finally the last story, another very dark one, deals with suicide and hero worship. A very eclectic mix of stories! By the end of the book Picasso had grown from a whining complainer who didn't want this to be happening to him to someone who was beginning to take charge of his new calling. I certainly enjoyed the main characters and am interested to see where this goes with the next volume. The first two stories were a little overdone and had they all been like that I would not have enjoyed the book but the characters kept my interest through them and then the last two stories were very creepy and dark, as well as insightful. The art is amazing. When Picasso draws his pictures we get full page detailed drawings that are intricate and gorgeous in their weirdness. Still, I'll be reading Volume 2 before making a final call on whether to continue with the series.