Matataki is a high school student who enjoys photography. One day, he finds out that he can see the future when he looks through the viewfinder of his camera upon seeing the girl he likes, Mirai, kissing a stranger under a bell that is rumored to bring two people together for eternity...
Ginen Shounen, or Gelatin Boy, is a story based off of one boy’s love for his childhood friend. Now stories under this premise are a dime a dozen, but Ginen Shounen tries to add the twist of future shots into the mix of this romance. What this means is that, Matataki can take a snapshot of something, and see a lens flare of the future within the picture. This is the interesting new component this manga tries to sell, but was it successful in creating more than a generic childhood romance?
The story of Ginen Shounen is one that may seem simple at first, but evolves into layers of depth throughout the story. With the introduction of the rival, this manga evolves into a darker struggle for one’s future. Rather than focusing on the past of the two main characters, the story engages the audience on the present. This conveys the plot twists in a fresh and appealing manner. There are pros and cons to this approach. The past could be integrated slightly into the story and could have it focus more on developing characters through the actions of their present selves. This could backfire if the characterization and cast fall flat. The story keeps itself going through the use of the future constantly causing new problems for the characters.
Now onto the interesting topic of the future shots. Fortune telling is something seen a lot in manga and anime, however, I have yet to see a manga use photography as the future telling medium. Matataki has the ability to look ahead of the object and figure its trajectory in order to determine the best shot. Through this useful technique he develops the ability to take pictures of the future whenever he sees the girl he likes. As weird as this sounds, it is quite the well thought out twist developed from an actual technique. Through this little twist, we get the darker part of our story. As Matataki takes these pictures, he comes to regret the future that he sees unravel before him. This story shows us how the future can change in a mere instant through circumstances. Every circumstance leads to an even bigger picture, which could lead to something nobody wants in the first place. Foreseeing the future is a blessing and a curse in this, for it will slowly start to break down Matataki as he tries to make Mirai, his childhood friend, fall in love with him.
Matataki as a character is pretty solid. He’s a weak and fragile main character who is given a practically supernatural ability. Though everyone knows the saying, “with great power comes great responsibility” it shows through Matataki. The deeper he goes down the rabbit hole, the darker the future becomes. Losing oneself to fate is one thing, but knowing about it is another. Having this ability makes this character change from flat to dynamic as we see the break down and rebirth of who he is.
One of the main flaws is that Mirai and the supporting characters are quite generic, and sometimes fade to the background; Matataki is the one who gains the most character development. Despite each of them being bland on their own, together they have an interesting chemistry. Though these characters are bland, there is however one that rivals Matataki. Kouda, or Tennis guy, is the antagonist of this manga and a fun one at that. He is not as conniving or sinister as you would expect from a generic antagonist of a romantic triangle. He is someone who takes what he wants, and he has the means to do it. Spawned from his arrogance and determination, Kouda is someone who manages to somehow fight on even ground with Matataki despite his unique power. Kouda uses his influence and charms to get closer to Mirai. All the while, he is subtly moving Matataki out of the picture with his constant advances. He truly is one to be feared.
Being a manga partially about the beauty of photography, it doesn’t fail to impress with its art style. Matataki is said to be a master of taking pictures, and the amount of detail used in each shot shows that to a tee. The detail on the characters, however, is nothing too special. The real gem is found within the backgrounds and pictures seen through Matataki’s lens. The decision making that went into each picture is quite interesting, making each one shine with a subtle beauty.
Ginen Shounen surprised me, to the point where I was content with each twist of the story. One can casually read this and get sucked in through the characters and the story. I, for one, gained a new appreciation of photography as an art. The twenty chapters gives one enough time to see the development of Matataki and those around him, all the while giving a fresh feel through the use of the future shots.
To be honest the recommendation of Lock On is a but obtuse. Indeed there is camera and school life however the feelings of the two are completely different. Not to mention that Lock On was cancelled before it got going.
The story is pretty well done for being only 20 chapters and you feel for the main male character right from the get go as it seamlessly pulls you in. If you have the time you should definitly knock this one out \(^_^)/
It's really hard to describe this by comparing it to another manga I have read simply because it more like a combination of a munch of different elements.
Childhood Friend that live next door to each other. The guy has confession issues. He can see the future through his camera and he is not attached to his love. Add in the older guy and a semi traumatic past and a semi selfish girl and you get a story. read more