If you have read or watched Bakuman., you might have learned a thing or two about manga. But while the series is quite insightful as far as the actual creating process from character design to storyboard to inking is concerned, it doesn't feel all that more realistic than other Shōnen Jump titles. After all, Ashirogi Muto make their big breakthrough while still in freaking high school. Granted, Bakuman. doesn't shy away from the truth that luck is a critical determinant on the way to publication. But in the end, it's a story fueled by the love of shōnen manga, and as such comes with a
lot of that ferocious competitive drive, the inspiring rivalries, the showdowns.
Kakukaku Shikajika shares Bakuman.'s premise in that it's about the making of a mangaka. Taking the autobiographic approach, however, it tells a real story of detours, dead ends, and what makes someone slacken or persevere at different points in time. This is not to say that nothing was exaggerated for effect's sake. I'm sure a few things were, but the point remains that Kakukaku Shikajika is not so much an inspirational story as it a truthful account of one woman's life as an artist. There is some unpleasantness. It is neither glossed over nor is it over-dramatized. But while events are presented in a matter-of-factly fashion looking back from a more comfortable place, there is still a very tangible sense of embarrassment – shame even – as one reflects the choices of a younger self. The strength of Kakukaku Shikajika lies in its subtle emotionality, that tinge of regret running through the story that reaches a new intensity toward the end.
Higashimura Akiko is best known for Kuragehime which received both an anime as well as more recently, a live action adaptation. For Kakukaku Shikajika, she uses her real name Hayashi Akiko to retrace her drawing career beginning with her high school days and ending with the present, fitting some non-linear snippets in here and there. With one year left until graduation, Akiko has it all planned out. The goal is to attend the painting department of a prestigious arts college in Tokyo, make her debut as a shōjo mangaka somewhere along the way, use the earnings to pay off her tuition debt, and, upon college graduation, get married to famous actor Toyokawa Etsushi. What could go wrong, right? Phases of overconfidence, hitting creative blocks, poking fun at the ridiculousness of art school, doubts whether it is "worth it", your own as well as that of those around you, the stigma attached to drawing comics – there is a lot in here that the aspiring artists out there should be able to relate to.
But Kakukaku Shikajika also excels at depicting more universal struggles. The pivotal point of the story is the mentee-mentor relationship that forms between the author and Hidaka Kenzō, an eccentric old man who offers art classes in a tiny studio in a small town by the sea. Hard to get to if one does not have a car, Akiko is convinced by a friend that this is the place for her to be if she is serious about getting into arts college. Hidaka-sensei promptly informs an entitled Akiko that her sketches suck. He's the kind of man who will chew everyone out regardless of who they are, make them draw the same thing over and over and over until they get it just right, while hitting them with a bamboo sword. Nevertheless, he shows extraordinary acts of kindness from time to time, like when he carries an Akiko feigning sickness to the bus station. It is in retrospect that the author recognizes good motives also behind his strictness, and from resenting what he made her do goes to realizing that not only could he have been a more sympathetic teacher but she, too, could have been a better student. That willingness to think yourself into someone else's skin and ability to admit your own shortfalls is one of the most important aspects of maturity and in this regard, this is also a classic coming-of-age tale.
Given Kakukaku Shikajika has been fully translated, the number of people who marked it as completed came as a surprise to me. I'm writing this in hopes of being able to spark someone's interest in the manga, as it's one of the most worthwhile ones out there.
A good story doesn't have to be cleverly written.
A good story doesn't need to have interesting characters.
A good story doesn't really have to be stimulating.
First of all, I will share this popular stanza from the poem "The Road Not Taken":
"I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference." - Robert Frost
What does Kakukaku Shikajika mean? I have no idea but according to google it means "blah-blah-blah". So this story is an autobiography of the mangaka who is known for her work
Kuragehime. Its about her childhood dream to be a manga artist and her experiences along the way that shaped the way she is now. As the title suggests, its the ramblings of a woman who reached her thirties as she reminisces her fond(or not-so) memories.
There are brilliant works out there that makes one struck in awe or those that can stir emotions. This is not really the case for Kakukaku Shikajika. For this genre - slice of life, one creates it with a touch of realism in which the reader can empathize with the character. Also, since its non-fiction, this is purely based on real events and characters. One could say its not creative but how the story is told is done in a creative manner. For those reasons, I gave this a 9.
Of course the art is the first aspect that readers would consider upon reading. This might not be on an outstanding level but it gives off the realistic vibe which makes it very fitting for the story. The sceneries are what I love the best.
There is really nothing to judge here since the characters are based on real persons. But aside from the main character, what makes this manga engaging is her art instructor. Reading about him gives me warm feelings.
Personally, I very much enjoyed it. The mangaka's reminiscing has drawn me into her world. There are also those humorous moments that makes it well-balanced and an enjoyable read. It made me also think back on those up and downs I had in college. This is best read on a lovely afternoon when you just want to relax.
Taking the average, 8.75 - rounding off, the overall is 9.
On the surface, it seems like just a story about her journey on being a mangaka but I think it is also written for her late art instructor and her fond memories of him. Some stories makes you want to read it over and over again and this is one of those few that makes it on my list. In my uneventful life, its difficult to empathize with the main character but I'd definitely read it again when I'll reach that prime in my adulthood as this manga will surely make you want to jog down your memory lane.
Kakukaku Shikajika (spoiler free review)
Wow, this story is exactly what manga is about, literally and in meaning.
I've always loved how close the relationship between author and viewer is, which is what ultimately made me adore manga so much... Is this my first time reading an autobiography? Maybe, my memory sucks. But wow, to be able to live this woman's life as days went by, with her present perspective on her past, her knowledge... It's truly magical; not much else to add (jk, ofc there's more).
What she put at the end of her last volume is especially original and I felt it was
a necessity... Such a well done work of art, really.
It is the perfect length, art is kept simple and has a signification (/reason) being that way, characters are obviously real and extremely fun to follow... I mean, reading an autobiography is something very 'curious' to do (I'd be willing to use the term perverted here, even though it's nothing sexual - maybe it's more of a French term); it feels like spying into somebody's private / personal life, but on top of all of that, to be given permission to do it... Her time lapses and the timing she shifts gives the manga this very disorganized-cute 'oh I HAVE to mention THIS; oh and this too!!' type of feeling that just makes us bond more with the author.
Anyways, in case it wasn't clear enough, it felt great, and I can't not favorite this 'chef-d'oeuvre' by the clumsy, lazy, but straightforward and honest Akiko Hayashi. 10/10
Consider Shirobako, a story that wraps the poignant insecurities of young adult career pursuit with a silly, heartwarming, and optimistic exterior. Now douse the narration with the mature reflections of an older adult looking back at their silly past, and sprinkle in evocative moments of warm nostalgia and sentimental regret.
Kakukaku Shikajika is the autobiography of now 40 year old mangaka Akiko Higashimura, and the title meaning "blah blah blah" is derived from the author's intentions of telling her life story in a natural, informal structure, lending itself to frequent tangents and moments of personal reflection. It's a story about a clueless high school girl
blindly following through with her passion in the arts. An unmotivated arts college student finding herself incapable of doing anything productive. A self-centered young adult wrestling with an incredibly hectic life as she tries to realize her childhood dreams of becoming a successful mangaka. It's a harsh review on her numerous moments of immaturity, and a piece of subtle appreciation for all the family, friends, and peers who have supported her along the way. Most importantly, it's an absolutely incredible and moving homage to the hero of her life: the stubborn, intimidating, rash, insensitive, but most genuine and pure person she's ever known, Hidaka-sensei.
Throughout the manga, we get to see so many reflections of what makes her character a fully realized person. We are exposed to the perspectives of a student, a teacher, a miserable office worker, a mangaka, a daughter, a girl in love, a mother, and so much more. Higashimura herself is very interesting and relatable, and the characters in her life provide invaluable bits and pieces that make up the variety of her life experiences, but even more than just writing an autobiography, she passes down the insights and sentiments of her experiences down to her readers, whether in light jest or as great pieces of life advice. Work hard and work often. Keep a broad perspective. Appreciate those around you. Be ready, as life happens whether you want it to or not. Have fun going to an arts college with no clear goal and ending up very unemployed and completely unproductive for society (:D). And for all the young people out there, youth is wasted on the young most of the time, but please don't waste it. You might be wallowing in self-pity and claiming that you're being overwhelmed; you're not, and your older self will definitely laugh in bitter derision!
But worry not, this is not a boring lecture; the author never really forces her views on the readers. The persuasion factor comes more from relating to the faults of the stumbling character on paper and being hit right where it hurts the most. Aren't we all self-centered, excuse-making, and unappreciative brats who run away from our troubles in some point of our lives? That's what makes this work great; it resonates with my current college student self, and the down-to-earth moments really bring out all these emotions within me as I read through the struggles of someone so different, yet oh so similar to me.
Kakukaku Shikajika is an entertaining work that makes you laugh, cringe, and feel the feels all at once. It does detail the process of manga creation to some extent, but the real appeal of the work lies in immersing yourself in this beautiful life story. Please give this one a chance.
Kakukaku Shikajika is an autobiography style manga about the story of the mangaka's journey as an aspiring mangaka, through her tumultuous university and graduate years, to the person she is today and the large influence of a strange but loveable art teacher on her life. The manga is narrated from the present point of view reflecting back on previous times.
This manga does start out somewhat slow since she has to introduce herself, but it does begin to pick up with actual stories about her past. The cast of notable characters is thin since it is more autobiographical, the only consistently reoccurring ones being the protagonist
herself, her sensei, and the side character of her friend and the main character is the only one who really sees any character development but that is to be expected since the manga is about her.
The art style is somewhat minimalist, it's not incredibly detailed but the important parts of the scenes are there. It's somewhat shoujo but not quite and it does take some getting used to.
Overall, I felt like it was a worthwhile read, but it's definitely something you have to be in the mood for. Again, it's a bit melancholic but it has its bits of humor and, if you can empathize with the main character, you'll find a nice coming-of-age story. It doesn't have spectacular art, nor does it have a huge range of characters, yet somehow, it still all comes together nicely.
For anyone familiar with the premise of this manga, my reading of it may seem odd. It’s an autobiographical piece for Akiko Higashimura, and mangaka of which I’ve read none of her works. However the premise of an autobiographical manga sold me enough, so here I am. From 2011 to 2015, Kakukaku Shikajika. Let’s rock.
PLOT: I’m used to talking about set ups and what not, but not used to discussing real stories. We follow highschooler Akiko Hayashi as she ends up studying at a new art class so she can follow her dreams of being a mangaka, however that’s only half of it. The story
isn’t a straight following of her life, but a reflection. It’s told from the point of the contemporary Akiko Higashimura, reflecting on her life and choices of the time. However this new art class isn’t what you’d expect, as we’re introduced to the yelling, bamboo-sword wielding sensei with no softness or hesitation. How this terrifying man would forever change Akiko and inspire her to be the person she is today. I don’t know if my words do it justice, but I found myself immediately pulled into it. Maybe I just jive with Higashimura’s humor, but the silliness of the situation quickly put a smile on my face, and the underlying heart got to me. The tale of Kakukaku Shikajika is one that spans across many years, following Akiko’s battle to become the mangaka she dreamed of, and Sensei supporting her every step of the way. It feels very real because it is real, and the modern Akiko’s commentary every step of the way keeps it from ever feeling dry. As much as I found myself laughing and smiling, I also found myself going through many other emotions as the tale unfolded, and by the end I found myself heavily crying. While seeming frivolous at first, by the end you can truly understand why the story needed to be told.
10/10, it never wasted any time and carried a lot of weight, it’s funny when it wants to be and powerful when it needs to be.
CHARACTERS: Let’s start with Akiko herself. It’s her story of growing up, going from the self-important, dreamy-eyed high school girl who was going to conquer the manga world to the quirky mangaka of today. I found her quite endearing, helped along by the ability of her modern self to critique and poke fun at the her of the past. This allowed us to get in her headspace and make her an incredibly relatable character. Frankly for me to never get annoyed at someone who makes as many stupid mistakes as real people do is quite the amazing feat. The other major character is Sensei, despite being introduced as this assaholic, loud mouthed, terrifying man we quickly grow to understand his straightforwardness and eagerness. He acts the way he does because he gives it his all and believes honestly in others to do the same. He’s kind of an idiot but he wears his heart on his sleeve in an endearing way. His ability to believe in someone 100% without doubt is something I find to be uncommon in real life people, and something I can love and respect. He’s very rough but has an incredible amount of heart, and that’s something I love. There are many other characters who show up throughout the story but the real focus is on the prior two and their relationship. The characters all being real people allows you to take some inside looks at some famous people, especially the other mangaka Akiko meets along her journey.
10/10, I fell in love with the main two, and the supporting cast was full of interesting faces, some of which are names I’ve heard before.
ART: The art throughout the series has this rough sketchiness to it. While I wouldn’t call it particularly amazing or any level of refined, it’s very expressive. Nothing ever looks terrible, but rarely do things look great. However things do look distinct and there’s a good amount of detail where detail is due. A lot of the settings have pretty distinct designs and the characters all look unique in very realistic ways. A lot of anime gets accused of same-face, and that couldn’t be farther from the truth here. The art is also great at expressing emotion, which in this kind of story is well appreciated. At the end of the day it isn’t great, but it’s very alive.
7/10, rough but charming.
FINAL SCORE: 9/10
This was quite the read from start to finish. It’s a very personal tale, and one with an overflowing amount of heart. Akiko Higashimura has a great personality, and that shows with every piece of this manga straight from her heart. I’m now interested in more of her stuff. Whether you’ve read her or not, I’d definitely recommend giving this series a shot, it’s a frankly beautiful piece.
I can not believe I just recently found out about this manga! And this is the first time I'm writing a review!!!
KAKUKAKU SHIKAJIKA is a nonfiction biography manga based on the author Hayashi Akiko's life from since she was high school to her at her forties. The story is mainly talking about her, her sensei Hidaka Kenzou and art (sketching, painting, manga).
This manga is particularly outstanding to me. I feel like I can relate to the main character Hayashi Akiko lots. Most manga's I've read have super unique characters, good looking, smart, superpower whatever it is, it just doesn't seem like it's from the
same world as us, it's the world we can only dream about, the characters are too fake. it's only for entertaining. However the manga KAKUKAKU SHIKAJIKA, it's character's are not so out of this world, they all have faults, and probably because it actually happened, I can feel emotions. I can actually learn stuff from this manga, it gives me courage and shows me the right path. I guess that's what I like about non-fiction. And I like this manga this much part of it probably is because it's about art, manga and sketches are also the things I love.
So, If you like art, this is a must read!!! I'm serious!!!
Kakukaku Shikajika is an incredibly frustrating manga. There core aspect of it and message it tries to send are both touching and heartfelt but it’s bogged out by so much extraneous fluff that it almost completely ruins it to me.
KS presents itself as an autobiography of Akiko Higashimura, the mangaka who wrote this. We get a rather general view of her life, all the way from childhood to her current life. Despite this, the real focus of the manga is her relationship with her art teacher, an incredibly important person in her life that for meager fees taught her art, helped her get into an
arts college and inspired her to move forward when she herself couldn’t. In my opinion it’s also easily the best part of it. It’s very genuine and touching, she portrays her strict but caring teacher in so much detail that it’s easy to grow attached to him yourself which makes the concluding final all the more impactful.
However if you were cut down the content leave in only that part the manga would probably be only like 2 volumes long if not less, so what else is in there? Well, not much. Aside from rare trivia about manga industry I honestly can’t find much of note in this autobiography. To me a good autobiography is one that tells you about the life of an interesting person and I can’t consider this manga author to be one of them. Her life doesn’t come off as anything so exceptional that it needs to be known and while this is incredibly subjective it’s a large part of what kept me from enjoying this manga.
Higahimura liked shoujo manga, she didn’t study too good and decided to go to an arts school. She lived a carefree live during her college years and had some very average parties and past times. She worked at a boring job as one of those telephone tech support/assistants people, I can’t remember the particulars of that but basically she just sat around accepting calls all day, during that time she also started to draw manga in her spare time. When she gathered enough money through manga she quit her job and almost made it a full time thing aside from a period of time helping out at an art class. Does any of this sound interesting to you? If so maybe you’ll be able to enjoy this far more than I did but if you didn’t I hope you’ll understand why I’m so harsh, are these events really worth devoting a huge chunk of the manga to when the rest is so much more meaningful and important? The question is entirely up to whoever reads this because I don’t think you can objectively gouge how interesting someone’s life is.
However there’s other two major downsides to this manga. Second one is about as major to me as the first if not more and it’s about how poorly Higashimura utilizes manga as a medium. Some of the most perceptive people on the planet will able to spot a small difference between manga and normal books. In case you’re not one of those people I consulted one of them to tell me what it is. Turns out manga has visuals, it has pictures, it has panels that separate the narrative into scenes and motions much like sentences, chapters and pages do in a book. Manga allows you to SEE the story and picture the things instead of writing them. Higahimura isn’t very intent on using that aspect of manga however as pages are often filled with walls of text that doesn’t carry as much value as the volume of it would lead to believe. I wish I could embed pictures into reviews cause then I’d be able to put a nice, long gallery of panels filled with just too much text that don’t tell you much and those things build up pretty quick which makes the experience reading this rather exhausting. Like goddamn she actually dedicated about 3 pages to the process they went through at a used books store to package the goods or give them a better look, it has no effect on her life or anything else for that matter, it’s just random trivia for no reason, just cause.
It doesn’t help that art is not really outstanding either. It’s serviceable for sure and it’s not hard on the eyes but there’s also a whole lot of panels that are either completely blank or have barely anything on them or just have a screen tone. For a story so centered about art and how hard the author trained for it I’d expect a bit more. One of the most glaring examples however is how she used a badly filtered photo of a cityscape as background at least 2, maybe 3 times, one of which was on a page where she talks about drawing being the only thing she’s capable of.
Third problem I have with this manga is closely tied to events that happened at the end of 4th and throughout most of 5th volume which is the only stuff I’d consider to be a spoiler when talking about this. As such I suggest you skip this long ass paragraph unless you don’t intent to read this manga. The problem I have is the tone. At the end of volume 4 the art teacher, huge part of Akiko’s life is revealed to have cancer and we learn that he has very little left to live. This is very hard news for Higashimura and a rather relatable event to people who have lost a relative or loved one, especially to cancer. As such it’s a rather tragic and grim thing to take in. This is also the most emotionally loaded part of KS cause you can feel the author’s remorse that she couldn’t do everything she could for her teacher, didn’t treat him the way she should’ve have and laments that her past self didn’t appreciate and value him as much as she should have. There’s entire pages where it feels like she blames herself for this, asking for forgiveness from her now deceased and hoping that he can hear him the same way she can hear his voice in the times she needs him. Those moments are as sweet as they’re heartbreaking cause while you get to see how strong their bond was you also get to feel her sorrow. I’ve went a little too long without saying what’s the actual problem is but now that you see how important this development is I feel like you’ll understand me better when I say that the ramblings about unimportant things and half-assed comedy annoy me even more. Do you want to honor the memory of your teacher who played a large part in you achieving your dream or do you want to fucking tell me pretty the editor you had in Tokio was and how it was totally fun to hang out with her and your other manga author friend? I’m not even kidding moments after a hearbreaking scene on the day funeral it’s followed up by this and her talking about how her husband was so nice that he insisted she moved to another city to help her achieve her dream, a gesture she returned by dating someone else and divorcing her husband shortly after. Either way, even without this particularly jarring examples it’s just shitty to think that the whole manga revolves around such an important and sad topic but instead of committing to that we get to see so much extra info that probably didn’t need to be there at all. There’s even a part where Higashimura herself admits that she didn’t give much thought to this manga and just kinda wrote it as she went without proper planning which really shows in barren panels, lack of structure and her constantly going off to talk about some unrelated rubbish.
In conclusion what did I end up with? An autobiography that recounts countless very insignificant and mundane events. A manga that’s intent on using words more than that visuals. A story that tries to pay respect to someone while actively hindering it by switching the focus to aforementioned dull things. While there’s some very good parts in this they are so heavily bogged down by the bad ones that I can’t recommend this. Judging by the scores and opinions of my friends I’m in minority here however so if you still think this manga is intriguing, give it a go, it’s not like it’s incredibly long anyways.
I don't think I would be exaggerating if I said this is one of the manga I enjoyed the most in a long while. The premise of it is already unusual: it's not your typical fictional manga, but rather an autobiography of the manga's author who, now in her forties, takes this manga as a chance to reflect about her long struggle to find a career in the arts.
The protagonist, Akiko Hayashi, is at first a carefree, lazy and self-centered girl whose biggest dream is to become a shōjo manga author. Unfortunately, she doesn't really have a clear idea of how to achieve this dream:
all she knows is that she doesn't like studying, and that she wants to apply to an arts college and make a debut in manga while studying there. But at one point in her life, during the last year of high school, she comes to meet a man who will slowly set her on the right path.
This man is Hidaka Sensei, an arts teacher, but certainly not your average one: he's an eccentric old man, who doesn't hesitate to scream at his students and hit them and their works with a bamboo sword. It doesn't take much for him to make Akiko's overconfidence crumble as he promptly informs her that her sketches suck. But while this attitude at first confuses Akiko, she soon realizes how much her teacher cares about his students, and the acts of kindness he's ready to make in order to teach them how to draw: in exchange of a cheap monthly fee, he's ready to do everything to make them achieve their dreams and apply to an arts college; his strict and serious behaviour is the proof of just how much he cares about his students becoming fully realized, respectable artists.
This is doubtlessly the biggest turning point in Akiko's life: from this moment, she goes through a lot of effort and many struggles to become the fully realized artist she is today. I'm sure many people can relate with Akiko's struggles, even if they aren't pursuing a career in the arts: there are many moments of self-doubt, concern over whether what one does is worth the effort or not, frustration over one's inability to do anything productive. Who knows, maybe there's even a lesson or two to be learned here.
The story is a rich one, and the author proves to be really good at understanding and reflecting on her older self. There are many moments of warm nostalgia over the past, enriched by the author's great sense of humour; I often couldn't help but smile at how easily the author suddenly deviates from the main story to talk about little episodes of her past, like when she remembers about her old friends, or when she criticizes art schools and their often lazy, unproductive students. But there's also a very subtle sense of melancholy, a feeling of regret over her past self's decisions, especially towards her old teacher. This sense of melancholy is never too obvious, nor is it forced on the reader, but instead it slowly builds up until it reaches its highest intensity in the final chapters. The author's gratitude for everything Hidaka Sensei taught and made her realize is evident, and I have no problem openly admitting that I even cried in the most emotional moments close to end of the series.
It's an inspiring story which will make you both laugh at some of the manga's funniest moments, and feel the same melancholy the author feels in her moments of regret. All in all, it really is just a beautiful, well-written story that I think anyone looking for a calm, somewhat serious read is going to enjoy.
*Warning: The reviews has spoilers for Kakukaku Shikajika*
Kakukaku Shikajika is a manga with a genre so rare in this media that the MAL synopsis and genre tags fails to mention it: it’s an autobiography. And a damn good one at that.
In being an autobiography, at least personally, the story gains far more emotional weight than one that would be fictional. I don’t know for sure why that is, but it probably has to do with the empathetic responses that occur when knowing a story is real. This particularity of the story helps it resonate with readers, or at least it resonated with me. That
also has to do with the settings and themes of the story: high school and college and having high ambitions but not wanting to put in the effort needed.
Kakukaku Shikajika has a very easily digestible cast of characters, cause there are only three real characters in the manga. However, in this instance it's very much a case of quality over quantity, and had the author attempted to include more characters, it would have ended poorly. We have the main pair, Hidaka Kenzou and Hayashi Akiko which form the mentor-mentee relationship. Akiko is our main character, an insufferably whiny and lazy teenager who is our author/artist Higashimura Akiko. She has her best friend Futami, who is the best support Akiko could’ve had, in that she puts up with her.
The dynamic of the mentor-mentee relationship is what makes this manga for me. It feels so real and genuine, and despite the attitudes they outwardly show to each other, they truly care about each other. That is especially reflected in the best character, the mentor Hidaka Kenzou. You really can’t hate the guy, because no matter how insensitive and harsh he may seem, we alongside our main character Akiko come to realize that he behaves like this out of genuine care for his mentees. He’s the kind of character in life you never realized you needed until he’s gone.
The drawing style is interesting in a meta sense and in giving even more depth to the connection our pair has. Akiko’s artstyle is anything but what’d you’d expect a student who took those art lessons and went to an art college would create. And in that, it reflects the sort of attitude she had towards her mentor. The art is very different from anything that's expected of manga, and I think its good. I personally saw it to be too different for my taste, and because the story doesn’t have as strong a connection to art as her other breakthrough work: Kuragehime, it can be a turn off for some people. I think that this particularly has to do with the way she draws her characters, its not in her lines or her inking but her character design that she stands out. If anything, its because they look far more human than we are used to, or at that, far more imperfect than shoujo and shounen character designs where everyone is literally a 10/10.
I really enjoyed it, in that I really was enthralled to read about this pair. It felt real, and because most of it was real, I always wanted to read more about it. The story doesn’t have any real turns, twists or hooks. Instead it pulled me in and kept me going by virtue of its characters, how they interacted with each other, and what they went through. It was also definitely an emotional ride, and it is likely that some people will connect with our main character Akiko. She is portrayed both in her angsty and hopeful teenager years, and then when she is thrust into the world when she goes to college and begins her career as a mangaka. She goes through human hardships that a lot of people have also gone through, and it can move people in very specific ways; it can feel like the story doesn’t have to be about Akiko, but any teen with a dream with no idea of how to fulfil it.
I think it’s a 10/10 overall, but I also don’t think its for everyone, particularly in that the main character can evoke frustration, specifically because she is a real human like us, and she makes a lot of mistakes and bad decisions. It’s really a story about regret, but it’s also an homage to her mentor. It’s the best biographical type literature I’ve read.
If you ever wanted to draw as a profession, maybe even wanted to be a mangaka yourself, you may understand the main character and her decisions. That she tries to get better by drawing traditional art, but then finds herself led astray from her original goal to draw manga. How she tries to have fun with her friends, then is thrown back into her sensei's harsh routines. And, how she regrets a lot of her decisions back then.
The main relationship of this manga is the one between the heroine and her art teacher. Personally, I think, he becomes like
a parental figure to her, a guide, but at the same time, she is too frightened to open up to him (e.g. telling him her true thoughts) until the end. Sensei tries to be strong – a leader, while the main is more timid and can’t talk back to him, even, if she disagrees with him. While he is harsh and brutal, she tries to have fun in life and doesn't work hard (when she isn't at his place). They simply doesn’t understand each other’s ways, while at the same time they don’t want to listen. Akiko starts to understand his personality and motives only, when she gets older, but about sensei we’ll never know.
One of the great values of the manga is that it’s really encouraging. Sensei doesn't care, whether the person has talent or not, he just wants them to learn the technique. And he is sure that everyone can be talented at arts, if they try. At the same time, he states that you can't succeed, if you don't draw a lot. Sensei's advice is quite literally "JUST DRAW!" and I guess it's the best advice you can give to an artist. (So, people, no more whining about talent, you heard the man!)
Actually, what fascinates me about the manga most, is that it doesn't try to make reality prettier than it is. Being an artist isn't a job that's easy to do (IF you have a job) and most likely you won't be rich, hell, you will be lucky to have enough money for your art supplies. Besides that, it isn't easy to maintain a good relationship with people and focus at your career at the same time. You'd have to choose eventually and nobody can say for sure, which decision was right.
At the end of the day, aren't we all just sitting around sometimes and think, like Akiko: "Hell, what did I do these past years? How much time have I wasted? How many opportunities missed?" And then, maybe there will be even that "Sensei"-person in our head, which gave us so many things we carelessly accepted without truly realizing their values until...
Kakukaku Shikajika was not a heart-warming, inspiring, or light-hearted manga to read...in fact, reading it was at times downright uncomfortable. Being a work of non-fiction, things did not always happen for a reason, characters did not always succeed at the things they worked so hard to achieve, people did not always learn from their mistakes, and the main character wasn't necessarily...likable.
What made the MC and the story most uncomfortable to read was, to me, the fact that it was brutally honest and relatable. Many people have a side of themselves, or choices that they have made in the past, that they are not proud
of. This mangaka, however, has the balls to put ink to paper and lay out that weak, selfish side of her in excruciating detail for the whole world to see. By doing so, I feel that she is, perhaps without even meaning to, challenging the readers to be honest with themselves as well. I have seldom felt this introspective after reading a story. As someone similar in age to the mangaka, I can relate to that regretful feeling of looking back upon the light-hearted, greedy narcissism of youth and wondering how blind I must have been to have taken all of the opportunities and loving support offered to me for granted.