The complete lack of motivation, the dull cycle of everyday life.. an average boy with average grades, average looks, average friends and a very average life. This is the story about that average boy and how he decides to make something out of it, transforming it, taking control of it, and discovering who he is as a person and who he can ultimately be. BECK, at its very core, is not a series about music, but a very well-done coming-of-age tale of a boy's journey through self-discovery.
The story follows Koyuki, the protagonist, and his band-mates, as they work to launch themselves into rock 'n' roll
stardom. The story of BECK is special, for the simple reason that it (generally) depicts the road to gain fame as a prominent band very realistically. It shows that just because you have a sweet voice and some crazy guitarist does not mean you will skyrocket into the music scene and gain a legion of fans. There is much more work to do, finding a good manager, producer, and establishing good connections and making sure not to make the wrong enemies just to name some.
Another prominent element of the story is the romantic relationship between Koyuki and Maho, this is where the melodrama accumulates in this story, some of the incidents are just too coincidental and it feels as if they are happening just for the sake of creating melodrama. Melodrama is fine, but the relationship becomes very predictable and boring by the end.
The main storyline, thankfully, knows how to deliver the drama correctly and it can really get to you sometimes. It's unpredictable, it feels real, and that's what makes it great. The characters can be celebrating on one page only to have tempers rise in the next. Tidal waves of drama and emotions between the characters in this manga is what ultimately makes the story such a good one.
On a side note, this manga is packed with fanservice. No, not as in panty-shots or anything perverted, but as in its references to popular music. Koyuki and the band travel from the grave of Jimi Hendrix to Abbey Road Studio, and with chapter covers filled with endless homages to album covers and bands, and backgrounds packed with references. There is even a dream containing all the deceased big name rock stars. It makes the series even a bit more fun to read.
Like a lot of manga series, the art starts out a bit shaky but eventually gains ground and becomes more defined as the series progresses. Backgrounds are carefully done, if not just for the author's love to add music references into them. What I liked a lot about the art is that the author takes notice to the character's growth, the manga covers around five years and the author makes sure as to show that through the character's height, hair length etc.
This is the central focus of the series, and what makes it so enjoyable. Sakuishi fleshes out all the band members very well and they're just simply very easy to relate to and three dimensional. Readers will all find a bit of themselves in the members of BECK; from the rash hotheadedness of Chiba, to the lack of faith in oneself sometimes found in Koyuki, or the aggressiveness of Ryusuke.
Another thing about the characters that works so well is that so many different personalities are all packed into one cast, and it makes character interaction fun to read and interesting. Koyuki is the soft-spoken, well-meaning but sometimes misunderstood vocalist/guitarist, backed up by his kind and selfless drummer friend Saku; while lead vocalist Chiba is determined to prove himself and loudmouthed, matched only by the blunt, enigmatic, and sometimes troubled lead guitarist Ryusuke. All four of them being balanced by the cool-headed and collective bass player, Taira. Throw this clash of personalities together and you're in for a hell of a ride.
The rest of the cast is pretty colorful too, but some feel out of place and I sometimes have a hard time imagining what's their purpose is in this story and why they were introduced in the first place. Of course the majority of the non-BECK cast is very intriguing and fun. From the intimidating Leon Sykes, to the charismatic Eddie Lee to the sheer assholery of Ran, the useful cast far than makes up for the uselessness of characters such as Saito, Sayaka and Izumi, who are there, really, for bad reasons or no reason at all. One loses all significance after the beginning chapters, another one is a plot device used to poof up more melodrama, and the final one seems like an early character that was scrapped from the story by the editor.
Very enjoyable, but some subplots are unnecessary and can get tiring, and one has to question why pages would be spent talking about Kurt Cobain besides the author getting a bit too self-indulgent. But overall this series is a fucking pleasure, you read and read and before you know it, it's already over. When the manga gets good, it is addictive.
This is a great coming-of-age series about a boy's discovery of a passion for music he never knew he had, the importance of friends and values and how not to lose yourself in the midst of fame and recognition. The story is well-written, and exciting; only to be occasionally dragged down by some irritating subplots. The characters, however, are well worth reading this series for. Hell, just read it because it's a great series in general. So if you want less Bankai's, or Sharingan Arms, and more real life drama and struggles, or just something more down to earth, read this.