Behind the Scenes!! 1 by Bisco Hatori

Behind the Scenes!! is a slice-of-life type of story by the mangaka of Ouran High School Host Club. Like that previous series, it’s all about slow character development; with this title, our main character interacts with a group of special effects artists helping out various film clubs at the school. Not a lot happens here: we have a story of a guy with no focus in his life who finds he has a talent for FX and making things. What he takes as deficits in his character are actually traits uniquely suited for film making.

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Story: Ranmaru Kurisu has run to the university to get away from a life of failures at his home. Son of humble fisher folk, his artistic nature continually disappointed those around him. But when he accidentally walks into a zombie movie set, he becomes caught up in the university’s FX club. The members are always frantic – keeping up with directors of six different movie clubs and their outrageous demands. But whether making costumes or painstakingly crafting miniature buildings to be monster-stomped, Ranmaru knows just what to do to save the day. If he survives their hectic pace, he may realize he just found his perfect calling.

Hatori’s works are always about the characters and here we are given detailed introductions to several members and directors. Clearly there are a lot more to come but most of the novel is Ranmaru being introduced and then solving key problems – from a ruined model to a costume snafu. All under the direction of charismatic club leader, Ryuji Goda. Each of the side characters have unique and well developed personalities.

This is definitely a cinemaphile work: all the characters are named after movie stars or parts they’ve played (e.g., the dog is named ‘The Don’ and various other protagonists are named after Sam Raimi, Sophia Coppola, Jean-Luc Godard – and main character Ranmaru Kurisu is named after Christopher Nolan (Kurisutofa Noran). The pace is fairly frenetic to mirror all that goes on behind a movie production.

Most of this volume 1 set the story/characters but it looks like a lot of the plot will involve problem solving various things through the different movie clubs. I’m not sure how much of an interest the author can maintain for those not invested in the movie world but certainly Ouran High School Host Club proved successful on a similarly surprising tangent. For now, we’ll see where this goes. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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