Connect with us
'Look Back' review
Viz Media

Manga and Anime

‘Look Back’ review

In between his time with Chainsaw man, Tatsuki Fujimoto tells a quieter coming-of-age tale about aspiring manga artists.


By this point if you are well-versed in the world of manga you should know the name of Tatsuki Fujimoto, known for his works Fire Punch and Chainsaw Man. The latter in particular has sold over twelve million copies, making it one of the most successful titles to be serialized in the Japanese magazine Weekly Shōnen Jump. Although Fujimoto is not done with Chainsaw Man as the second part will begin serialization later this summer– and we are expecting MAPPA’s upcoming anime adaptation later in the year– the author has had time to create some one-shots, including Look Back

The story centers on Ayumu Fujino, an elementary schooler with a talent for drawing manga, which she publishes in the school’s paper. After receiving praise for her exceptional skills, she finds herself challenged by another student named Kyomoto, who begins publishing her own manga alongside Fujino’s but demonstrates herself as the superior artist between the two. Eventually the two girls meet and it turns out that Kyomoto is a shut-in who also happens to be a huge fan of Fujino’s work. The two decide to collaborate on drawing manga with the hopes of submitting their work to be published. 

There have been manga titles that have explored the lives and painstaking process of what it means to be a manga artist– the most recent example being Inio Asano’s Downfall. Look Back isn’t determined to break new ground regarding this subject but there is an honesty in the way Fujimoto presents the lives of these two girls, each having their own way of living through creating manga. 

Serving more as the protagonist, Fujino is similar to Denji, the eponymous Chainsaw Man, in that they are both fairly shallow teenagers. In Fujino’s case, she revels in the praise for her work, but once someone else works in the same profession and in considered superior, she goes down the spiral that is continuously drawing manga to maintain her dominance, even if that means lacking a social life. It gets to the point that Fujino gives up being a manga artist and learns to socialize and try other things, and it is only when she finally meets Kyomoto, the desire to draw comes back and so does the dominance. 

Whilst you delve more into the mindset of Fujino than with the shut-in Kyomoto, no doubt she is unlikeable, especially when she confronts her collaborator who wants to maintain her independence as an artist. However, like Denji, the journey Fujino goes on is challenging, upsetting and ultimately redeemable. Regarding the upsetting elements of this title, there are scenes that readers have noticed have similarities to real world tragedies, although the storytelling manages to avoid any discrimination. 

If you have read Chainsaw Man, you will notice a progression in how Fujimoto’s art has improved and with Look Back he is hitting on all cylinders. Whilst this title doesn’t revel in gore-tastic action and crude humor, its quieter approach is all about the stillness of the characters, as roughly one-third of the book is dialogue-less, relying on closeups or large panels to convey specific feelings. As someone who likes to experiment with his art, you can see Fujimoto playing with that notion with the two girls’ styles of drawing, as well as the recurring image of just seeing Fujino’s back as she draws manga that is used as a passage of time, hence the book’s multi-layered title.

'Look Back' review
‘Look Back’ review
Look Back
Tatsuki Fujimoto is all about coming-of-age narratives but is able to put a new spin with each new title, whether it is about a literal chainsaw man, or in the case of Look Back, a powerful examination of what it means to be young and ambitious.
Reader Rating1 Vote
8.9
A honest depiction of two young girls trying to make it big in the manga industry.
Incredible visual storytelling from its experimental art to the stillness of the characters.
Some readers will be upset by scenes that evoke certain real-life tragedies.
9.5
Great

Join the AIPT Patreon

Want to take our relationship to the next level? Become a patron today to gain access to exclusive perks, such as:

  • ❌ Remove all ads on the website
  • 💬 Join our Discord community, where we chat about the latest news and releases from everything we cover on AIPT
  • 📗 Access to our monthly book club
  • 📦 Get a physical trade paperback shipped to you every month
  • 💥 And more!
Sign up today
Comments

In Case You Missed It

Declan Shalvey and Drew Moss detail their forthcoming 'ThunderCats' series Declan Shalvey and Drew Moss detail their forthcoming 'ThunderCats' series

Declan Shalvey and Drew Moss detail their forthcoming ‘ThunderCats’ series

Comic Books

Marvel Preview: Thunderbolts #1 Marvel Preview: Thunderbolts #1

Marvel Preview: Thunderbolts #1

Comic Books

Spider-Woman #1 Spider-Woman #1

‘Spider-Woman’ #1 carves out a new life

Comic Books

Iman Vellani and Sabir Pirzada return for 'Ms. Marvel: Mutant Menace' Iman Vellani and Sabir Pirzada return for 'Ms. Marvel: Mutant Menace'

Iman Vellani and Sabir Pirzada return for ‘Ms. Marvel: Mutant Menace’

Comic Books

Connect
Newsletter Signup