Tatsuki Fujimoto’s heartstopping, heartpounding, and heartbreaking one-shot Look Back
By Josh Morente
“You know, to begin with, I don’t even like drawing manga.”
“Then why do you draw, Fujino?”
With these words, you might think that this manga is just your sappy run-of-the-mill story oozing with bildungsroman tropes. To be honest, yes it is. It’s that—and it’s also more. Look Back is a straightforward story about friendship, coming out of your room, seeing the world and its underwhelming beauty, and just loving the hell out of it. It also happens to be about drawing manga.
We meet Kyo Fujino, your average kid with a knack for writing stories and drawing four-paneled manga. She gets published in the school newspaper, and enjoys the whole childhood experience, just out and about.
With the world in shambles right now because of an ongoing pandemic, maybe we can follow in Kyomoto’s footsteps—coming out of her room, trying new things, and just soaking up every experience.
Enter Kyomoto, an impeccable artist in the word’s essence. She gets published in the school newspaper, and enjoys the whole childhood experience, on her own.
Jealousy comes into play and gets the best of Kyo Fujino. She is baffled by who this person named Kyomoto is. “Who is she, what are these drawings, how, why, where” and the whole nine yards get to her. She pays her a visit, sees a locked door with a ton of books by the hallway, and she knocks. No one answers, except for a drawing. She asks her to come out. At first she doesn’t, but with her drawing, Kyomoto eventually does, and that’s where it ends. No, we’re just kidding. Obviously, that’s not the end. This is where the fun starts, and the heartbreak too. But you’d have to read it to know. It’s just too much of a spoiler to share here.
What you’d think is a rivalry is in fact one of the most wholesome friendships you would encounter in all of manga. An introvert and an extrovert, nothing that hasn’t been done before. What this gem of a story has is characters fleshed out and written out tastefully in so little time. Nothing’s rushed, but everything is answered by the end.
There are ups and downs, but Look Back is mostly about learning what you want to do in life—following it, honing it, whatever it may be. And that’s just a part of it. It’s also about going different paths, coping, and dealing with death altogether. It’s the whole coming-of-age and coming-out-of-your-shell cliché. But it’s just a damn good story a little shy of 100 pages long.
With the world in shambles (an understatement) right now because of an ongoing pandemic, maybe we can follow in Kyomoto’s footsteps—coming out of her room, trying new things, and just soaking up every experience she can, literally just living in the moment, being present in the present. We can too, may it be indoors, with your laptops and cellphones, or a book and just letting the imagination flow, experiencing it in the theater of the mind. Or it could be outdoors, as long as you have your mask on, a spray bottle of alcohol in hand, and socially distancing yourself from other people. Whichever you prefer, whatever you do, just live.