Oh man, this one shot is such a ride. I originally had the plan of writing about this immediately came out, but not all plans work out sometimes. It feels like there is just a lot of manga and pieces of media that are out there that keep coming out you know? I was not expecting more Gundam or Eva to appear, but they did. That doesn’t mean that Fujimoto’s Look Back isn’t worth reading. If anything, it’s incredible and mentioning Look Back with those two things I love is a compliment. 140+ pages of a pure emotional ride in a short package that you can’t expect to be in every place. If you know Chainsaw Man, then you know Fujimoto and what he is capable of doing. What happens if Fujimoto pulled back from his usual insanity in a grounded way? If there is something that Look Back proves, it’s that Fujimoto can write anything he puts his mind too.
While Look Back has a cast of two main characters, but the focus is character is Ayumu Fujino. A girl that loves to draw and everyone cheered her on until she started growing up and people started questioning why she was still drawing. It seemed like the final cut off of Ayumu’s drawing was for the midde school newspaper when a better drawn manga was placed next to hers. It was created by the mysterious Kyomoto that never made it to school because they drew all day. Something that pushed her to improve her art until Ayumu couldn’t get to that level. By sure happenstance before Ayumu quit for real, she meets the mysterious Kyomoto who happens to be Ayumu’s biggest fan. Becoming friends, the two work on a manga named Shark Kick together for a while.
The major meat of the story takes place after the girls work on Shark Kick together for a while. I mean, the manga already gets the viewer with some very good pieces of humor and a good character story about people creating art and what it feels like to be at that age. It’s not only relatable for artist, but any of us who had a passion for something when we were young and those wondering about whether or not they should keep going with it. That’s how I felt when I started playing an instrument and while I don’t practice as hard as I used to I still enjoy it. I don’t really want to tell you what happens after Kyomoto leaves Ayumu to improve her art even more in art school. Just know that this was came out on the second anniversary of the Kyoto Animation’s arson attack. That’s about all you need to know really.
How is this one shot so good? A lot of things really. Look Back is so detailed with its background events, comic strips, and panels that it’s impossible to read it again and again without seeing something new or get a new interpretation of the whole manga in some unique way. For instance, reading Ayumu’s middle school manga is better then she could see. Especially since her sense of humor is amazing and pure. Her manga about two lovers meeting again as an asteroid and a planet is never not going to be hilarious. There is just so many other things in there that tie into all those attributes. The art is so good and grounded in what it says and does that it all works to create this world of a manga that feels so fleshed out. Especially fleshed out for a one and done kind of manga and it’s magical.
The second thing that connects with me is how personal Look Back feels. For instance, I couldn’t help but feel like we are seeing Fujimoto’s story in at least some way. I mean, obviously he is not two girls named Ayumu Fujino and Kyomoto, but the art aspect feels right to me. Especially since Shark Kick has as much volumes as Chainsaw Man currently have so there is some air of it. I also feel like this was Fujimoto’s reflection of the Kyoto Animation Arson attack. How he hurt after seeing that sad tragedy in the worst way possible. I also think that this is Fujimoto’s story about art and drawing. The entire manga is about Ayumu Fujino and why she wanted to draw and what drives her to do it. That short scene of Ayumu seeing that Kyomoto was still a massive fan of hers after all that happened was what drove to continue drawing again. What a wonderful piece of manga. I can’t recommend it enough. It’s on SJ+ right now, so please check it out before Chainsaw Man Part 2 appears. Or even after. Whenever works for you, I hope it stays there for a while so I can read it again.