Behind the Scenes!! Volume One focuses on Ranmaru Kurisu, a son of fisherfolk who isn’t talented in fishing. Ranmaru has an inferiority complex, and he goes away to college in the city with the hope of finding a sense of belonging.

Behind the Scenes!! Volume One
Written by: Bisco Hatori
Publisher: Hakusensha, Inc.
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: February 2, 2016

The story of Behind the Scenes!! Volume One is set in motion when Ranmaru accidentally stumbles into a zombie mob attack being shot for a student film. He finds himself entangled with the Art Squad, the club responsible for the visual arts that appear in the films for the various film clubs at the college. It turns out that Ranmaru has artistic skills, which catches the eye of the Art Squad.

The Art Squad includes several members, all of whom are creative types with eccentric personalities. Of these characters, most of the focus is placed on Ryuji Goda, the head of the Art Squad. He comes across as having a short temper and having an opportunistic personality, yet he shows understanding to Ranmaru and gives him encouragement. Ruka Enjoji, another member of the Art Squad, gets a story that focuses on her during Volume One. She has a passion for fashion and costume design, and her storyline in this volume really emphasizes this. The other members of the Art Squad show up, but they don’t receive as much attention as Ryuji or Ruka. Hopefully future volumes will help develop the other members of the Art Squad.

But the most important element of Behind the Scenes!! Volume One is the character growth that Ranmaru starts to experience right near the end of it. Whether he realizes it or not yet, he has found a place where he belongs and is able to use his artistic talents in ways that he never could back home. Admittedly, the members of the Art Squad are eccentric, but most of them seem to care about Ranmaru and want to help him out. I’m guessing that Ranmaru’s adventures with the Art Squad and the character growth that results from them will be the driving force of future volumes of Behind the Scenes!! Ranmaru is definitely a “lovable loser,” and the reader finds that they come to care about him over the course of this volume.

When it comes to the art, I can take one look at it and tell that it was drawn by Hatori. There’s just something about her art style that makes it recognizable to readers who are familiar with any of her other works. But I have to say that I’m very impressed by the wavy hairdo that she gave to Ryuji, and I suspect that it may not be easy to draw. I also appreciate how Hatori has given each character a very distinctive look, so they don’t look like “cookie cutter” versions of each other. While Hatori does utilize a number of the design tropes associated with shojo manga, she finds a way to change the tropes just enough to make them look a little more original.

Shojo manga readers will likely find something to enjoy about Behind the Scenes!! Volume One. While there’s currently no major love story yet, there’s a hint thrown in at the end of this volume that perhaps romance could come into the picture as the story continues. Fans of Bisco Hatori’s other work will also likely appreciate Behind the Scenes!!

The reviewer received a review copy from VIZ Media

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