This particular story has a bit of a tragedy attached to it. I was warmly recommended Blank Canvas on Twitter and I picked it up without much more than a glance at the summary. When I got it, I found out that it was from the author of Princess Jellyfish and it opened up a wound.
You see, I really liked the Princess Jellyfish anime. And while watching it, I actually remembered thinking to myself, this is probably a very good manga. Something about the story made me think that it would work just a little bit better in manga form. And I never think that! I went to Amazon and found the manga box set for something like 165$ and bookmarked it for my next haul. When the time came, it had gone up to about 200$. I still thought that was a great deal but Honey (you know that app that never actually finds any deals – told me that the price had gone up a lot and that it had been at around 134$ in the past month so I shouldn’t buy it at that price.
I thought to myself that a 65$ difference is pretty significant, I can buy a lot of other manga with that so I figured I could wait a bit more. I had just ordered a bunch of other manga after all. In the next few days and weeks, the price just kept steadily climbing, peaking at around 240$ after which it suddenly disappeared. And it hasn’t been available since. And I am so sad. I blame Honey for this tragedy.
Oh yeah, we’re here to talk about Blank Canvas.
Why I Picked up Blank Canvas
Once in a while I go on Twitter and ask for manga recommendations. I have had a lot of luck with this tactic. You should try it as well if you want to discover something new. Blank Canvas was recommended by only one person but with so much enthusiasm that I had to check it out.
Blank Canvas: My So-Called Artist’s Journey
The autobiographical manga by Eisner-winner Akiko Higashimura, the creator of Princess Jellyfish and Tokyo Tarareba Girls, about her high school dream to become a comic book creator! High schooler Akiko has big plans to become a popular mangaka before she even graduates, but she needs to get much better at drawing if she ever wants to reach her goal. Looking for an easy fix, she signs up for an art class, thinking all her problems will soon be solved. She’s in for a surprise: her new instructor is a bamboo sword-wielding taskmaster who doesn’t care about manga one bit. But maybe this unconventional art teacher is just what she needs to realize her dreams!
My First Impression
Waitm this lady wrote Princess Jellyfish, I love Princess Jellyfish… sigh…
What I liked
Hum, pretty much everything. As an autobiography, it’s a bit more down to earth and the characters stay realistic. You might expect things to be a bit blander. But they are not. Akiko captures the soul and essence of her childhood and the people that were part of her life in such a way that even in only the first volume, everyone feels pretty fleshed out and developed.
I also really liked that Akiko herself is, kinda weird. Ok, weird isn’t the right word. But I rarely see characters like this. She doesn’t shy away from illustrating her own faults and failings but she also doesn’t apologize for them. She seems like a really cool lady, I do want to get to know her better.
The entire setup and story so far are captivating. The personal tone easily transports you so you live out everything right alongside Akiko.
Blank Canvas is lighthearted, often very funny because Akiko herself is a funny girl, and doe acknowledges the luck and privilege involved in becoming a successful artist. But it also really emphasizes the work. It is gruelling but rewarding and strangely addicting. I enjoy stories about people trying their best. And although Akiko is kind of flaky and a little lazy, she does try and I find that endearing.
I’m going to be honest with you. I’m writing this in very early September and I’ve only read the first volume so far. At this point, the one major drawback I can see is that volume 2 is out of stock everywhere… The heck you guys! I wanna to read the rest. Whaaaaaa!
No really, that’s all I have. If you like that summary, I bet you’re going to enjoy the manga. If you don,t like autobiographical works, then you might not.
Blank Canvas does remind me a lot of Blue Period. And I really like Blue Period. However, Akiko is a much more irreverent and lighthearted character by nature and the way in which she approached life is more happy go lucky which creates a different feel.
Just like Bleu Period, Blank Canvas went into detail about applying and getting into art college in Japan, which I find very interesting. It also does touch a bit on drawing and art techniques. You could think the titles are redundant but in fact, I would call them more complementary. In any case, I’m desperate to find the rest of this series which only has 8 volumes. I sincerely hope that by the time this post publishes, I will have the entire series.