Monday, May 23, 2011

Genkaku Picasso Volume 3

By Usamaru Furuya. Released in Japan by Shueisha, serialized in the magazine Jump Square. Released in North America by Viz.

Things start off as normal in this final volume of Genkaku Picasso, with his skills being used to get a shut-in to return to school and reconcile with his "Studying over everything!" mother. After that, though, we head into a number of chapters that show us that we're headed to an endgame, mostly as for the first time we see him return to someone he's helped before - in this case, his friend Sugiura, who's a bit of a playboy struggling for his feelings for Akane, who not only is completely different from his usual type, but is also in love with Picasso.

We start to get things brought up that we've wondered about before, namely how people deal with Picasso seeming to know their innermost secrets, as well as how Chiaki interacts with the real world. The answer given is somewhat ambiguous, and if you want everything to make perfect sense then you might have a bit of trouble. Certainly Sugiura does, as he confronts Picasso after resolving his issues with Akane. Picasso attempts to explain what he does, opening up to someone other than Chiaki for the first time... and is soundly rebuffed.

And so we head into the final arc, where, as suspected, Picasso has to head inside his own heart, and deal with his own major unresolved issue - Chiaki. This is juxtaposed nicely with the rest of the main cast, all of whom Picasso helped in some way. We're not quite sure how anymore - the text certainly implies that Picasso and Chiaki leaping into the drawings to solve their psychoses happened, but it also shows the other side of Picasso's conversation with Sugiura, where we see Picasso holidng up a folded piece of paper he says is Chiaki, and showing a broken watch he insists is his skin rotting. Which is real, and which is hallucinated? Well, both.

The scene where Picasso emerges from his own eye to see the scene of the helicopter accident - and Chiaki's corpse - is drawn for maximum effect, and manages to be creepy and moving at the same time (a common theme and stregnth in Furuya's work). His friends are gathered to try to help him, but they can't get into his head the way he got into theirs, so in the end it's up to Chiaki to remind Picasso that she's dead - and that's what he refuses to accept. I was highly amused to see her finally accomplish this by getting him so angry that he abandons her in a huff - she certainly knows what makes him tick.

Again, in the final scene we have a bit of a disconnect regarding whether all this happened or not - Chiaki's note that she put in his pocket before the crash is revealed, but it shows her wearing wings - is it a confession, or a goodbye? Or both? Still, it leads to a nice finale, with the majority of the cast sitting by the riverside playing and discussing their futures while Picasso draws. Chiaki may be dead, but Picasso has opened up and found friends. Hey, in the end, it did end up being sort of Jump-esque, didn't it?

I think in the end this is a series that works on an artistic and emotional levels, but has a tendency to fall apart when you think about it too much. Luckily, I can happily read manga without thinking, and as such I found Genkaku Picasso to be a lot of fun, with a very satisfying resolution that did exactly what I expected, but did it quite well.

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