Manga Review: Look Back

Look Back
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Title: Look Back
Author: Tatsuki Fujimoto
Publisher: Viz Media
Language: English
Format: Paperback
Pages: 148
Genre: Slice-of-Life
Publication Date: September 20, 2022

The Story

From the creator of Chainsaw Man comes a one-shot slice-of-life story about a young girl named Fujino who has had a knack for drawing ever since the fourth grade. All of the students praised her artwork in the school’s newspaper, even going so far as to say that she should become a manga artist.

One day, the teacher asks Fujino if she wouldn’t mind giving up the manga slot to a truant student named Kyomoto as she wants to try her hand at drawing a manga panel. Turns out that Kyomoto was far better at drawing than Fujino and everyone began to compare the two of them. This caused Fujino to light a figure under herself and to practice drawing. She practiced over and over every day for two entire years but could never match Kyomoto’s level.

Dejected, she decides to give up drawing until graduation day when she is asked to bring Kyomoto’s diploma to her house. She reluctantly accepts the responsibility and when she gets there, learns that Kyomoto only drew manga because she was a huge fan of Fujino. From here, the series fast-forwards year over year to show the progress as a friendship develops between the two of them.


Fujino simply is a girl who loves to draw; however, she also has a bit of a fragile ego. While she received praise for her work, the instant that she was compared to Kyomoto, her ego took a huge hit and instead of improving for the sake of improving, she seemed as if she did it just to beat Kyomoto and show her up. She even mentions how she won’t accept a shut-in who doesn’t come to school to be better than her. When her art doesn’t improve past Kyomoto’s, she flat-out gives up. This alone proves that she wasn’t trying to improve herself. She turned it into a personal competition and it ended up destroying her… until she meets Kyomoto.

Here, things get a little weird as a time skip goes from “Fujino, please sign my shirt” on one page to “we’re making manga together now!” on the next. This is where we see how time begins to skip and how Fujino grows as an artist. Even at a pivotal moment, you still get the sense that Fujino has a bit of an ego. While she has handled whatever success she achieved rather well, when Kyomoto cites her own wishes, she acts a bit self-centered and selfish rather than understanding. It makes me wonder if, despite being drawing partners now, there has always been that animosity on her shoulder this whole time. There is a moment where all of that shatters, though… but until that moment, I found Fujino to be kind of unlikeable.

Kyomoto, on the other hand, you just wanted to hug. She has social anxiety and finds it very hard to talk to people but after meeting Fujino, she begins to come out of her shell. In fact, after they do a one-shot together, Fujino takes Kyomoto out in celebration and it begins to give her the courage to try and be more interactive with the world. This sets Kyomoto down her own path and brings us to that pivotal moment that makes Fujino come off as a bit self-centered.

To see Kyomoto’s excitement when she meets Fujino for the first time, though… that infectious happiness and excitement was enough to get Fujino back into drawing. Fujino even said she had an idea for a manga that seemed as if it came from out of left field. For someone who quit because of Kyomoto, how would they have an idea for a manga? It almost came off as if Fujino has made that up on the spot just to impress Kyomoto or to show her that she had bigger aspirations than drawing for a school newspaper. Kyomoto bought it though and she practically begged Fujino to show it to her. In a way, Kyomoto was the catalyst that gave rebirth to Fujino’s passion and became the foundation for their friendship!

Final Thoughts

I will be completely honest here. I know that Tatsuki Fujimoto drew Chainsaw Man and that manga had its own art style but I was hoping to see him try something a bit different with Look Back. All of the characters were drawn in the same exact way as Chainsaw Man, complete with facial expressions. While, yes, I fully understand that this is his style of drawing, it just didn’t fit for a slice-of-life story. The facial expressions, mannerisms, and overall design of the characters didn’t match the dialogue or emotions that were being depicted throughout the story. It just seemed like a huge mismatch between artwork and story and it was a bit jarring, to be honest.

Does that mean this book was bad? Not really. It was a decent read and, again, I understand that this is a one-shot but all of the random time skips weren’t explained as well as they could have and things got a bit confusing. There were some parts that I couldn’t decipher between flashback and present time and that hurt the overall experience. Fujimoto had the same issues towards the end of Chainsaw Man as well. If anything, for all the success that he’s had, he really needs to work on his transitions. The harsh jumps reminded me a lot of Sui Ishida’s Tokyo Ghoul series whenever there was a large-scale battle. That series also suffered because it had such a huge cast and the art style sometimes made it hard to decipher who was who but when you run into that problem with a cast of two characters… that’s a bit rough.

But those are the only negative points I can give about this one-shot. The story itself was good, it had some nice twists and turns to it, and it concluded in a satisfying way. I can definitely see this stretched out as a full series. It would definitely help with some of those time skips and character development for sure. I still think this is worth picking up as the overall goal and score of the story is told pretty well and it tells a really interesting slice-of-life tale. Definitely give it a shot!

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This item was provided for review by Viz Media