Behind the Scenes!! Volume 5
Word has just come out that the end of this series by Bisco Hatori is in sight in Japan, and no one will be terribly surprised. It’s an entertaining series, but not a particularly memorable or remarkable one.
The plotlines here in Behind the Scenes!! volume 5 indicate a certain amount of casting around for purpose. The first chapter even has some of the characters asking the leader of the special effects group why they’ve taken a particular job, that of making fans to support a boy band called “Spicies” (“where each member is named after a spice, so when combined, they all make curry”). He shrugs, says something about getting paid well, and is conveniently prevented from having to provide more justification.
It’s an interesting insight into a particular aspect of fandom, light-years beyond markers on posterboard, but I share the characters’ questions about motivation. We’ve wandered too far away from the core concept, of making movie magic, in my opinion. I felt similarly about the next story, the piece on making cheap but cute Halloween costumes, although it has lots of good advice for readers and a heart-warming emphasis on helping friends.
Another chapter focuses on nail art, as Maasa loses out after helping a popular girl dress up for a fan meeting. I don’t think the author wanted to have the message of “no good deed goes unpunished” but that’s the take I got from the ending, which was a little off (perhaps rushed?).
At least the final chapter gets back to stagecraft, as the group helps a high school drama club create their stage design. Lessons involve the difference between theater and film staging and how to achieve emotional effects on no budget.
I would probably enjoy this series more if I could remember the details that differentiate the various group members, but visually, they’re not distinctive enough for me to keep anyone but the leader apart. Hatori is ramping up the emotional impact, but it’s near meaningless to me if I don’t know which boy or girl feels what about whom. A brief character rundown at the beginning would have been a great help, given that it’s six months between volumes.
I like Hatori, but when my reaction to hearing of a new volume is less “Yay!” and more “Huh, is that series still going?”, it’s time to give up on it.
Hatori has always been one of my favorite manga artist, and I always find myself immersed in his stories. There’s just something about his style, and the way he presents the characters that I adore. I’m definitely sad to see this series ending, but I’m also excited to see what else he has in the works for us.