Behind the Scenes Volume 4
It’s about that point in any manga series, where the episodic stories start giving way to more character-based insight. Bisco Hatori’s Behind the Scenes volume 4 is no exception. We’re still seeing the group of art students providing movie-making support, but here, we also get to meet the family of Ranmaru, the fish-out-of-water nominal lead character, as well as Goda’s father.
The first story sends the team to buck up a director who’s collapsed under pressure and won’t show up to his film shoot. The group uses their knowledge of his fandoms to chase him through Akihabara in a chapter I found quite amusing, between the puns and the switching off of reader expectations. It’s fast-paced with plenty happening, putting in the entertainment and then getting out quickly before the reader tires of any of it.
The team finds out that Goda is the son of a Buddhist priest when they go to film an occult thriller in an old temple in the next two chapters. Unfortunately, the assistant director isn’t able to come at the last minute, requiring someone to step up and fill the role. Technically, the reader will learn how to make a functioning but cheap dry ice machine as well as the details involved in the AD role on a movie set.
The last three chapters are set at that universal staple, the school festival. While the art squad team helps other clubs set up booths, create signs, and maintain costumes, we learn a lot more about the mysterious but attractive Izumi in a cute little dating story that reminds us “creative activities can teach you about yourself!” That’s pretty much the mission of the series.
There’s another chase, this time around the campus, in this section, as Ranmaru tries to bring Izumi and another friend together, but there’s a lot more emotional depth about what it means to find yourself at college, which I found charming, even if the plot device driving it is a big exaggerated. I missed there not being any real behind-the-scenes film knowledge, but I liked that they all come together at the end over a bowl of bean soup with adorably shaped dumplings, dumplings that were made in real life, as we see in pictures in the ending creator’s note.