Akiko is continuing to work at the call center and in Hidaka-sensei’s classroom while drawing and submitting manga to Bouquet magazine. Some of it sticks (such as a Thelma and Louise styled story), some doesn’t. When Bouquet ceases publication and a new magazine called Cookie starts up in its’ place. Challenged to write a youthful, more fashion-forward story, she writes “Dress Up Summer” which gets serialized. She’s finally bringing in money regularly from writing and drawing manga! After being invited to a publishing party in Tokyo, she meets Ishida Takumi and other manga creators for Cookie who live and work in Osaka. Akiko’s saved up enough by this point to move there… but what about Sensei and his students who are studying for their own exams?
I feel as if the pace slowed down a little bit in this volume, but in a good way. Akiko shows more details and events of her life during this time period. For example, she helps Sensei with a home project to make his garden look and feel more like Monet’s fabled gardens. We also see a visit from her boyfriend at the time, and all the sights they saw and the foods they ate in Miyazaki: including a meal from Sensei himself. All these events and details are meticulously rendered – so much so that I was craving the sushi that was shown!
A chapter that will be enjoyable for all readers (not just artists like myself) is the chapter where she explains the process of making manga. It’s so much more involved than even I thought! And so fascinating! It’s even more impressive that she did so much by herself, only in the evenings, for so long. It’s at this point that she recruits friends as assistants, for good reason!
More and more, this story becomes less about Akiko’s artists journey and more about the folly of youth and the illusion that comes with it: that we all have all the time in the world. From the beginning, she’s been foreshadowing that something has happened to Sensei since the events of this story, and that something is finally revealed in this volume. All her hints and “what if” sighs do nothing to make this gut punch any less heart wrenching and painful. At the end of this volume, she’s left with a choice: to go back to Miyazaki and help Sensei and his students, or to continue her upward rise in Osaka. I for one am very much looking forward to seeing her choice in the next volume.
Higashimura, Akiko. Blank Canvas: My So-Called Artist’s Journey (Vol. 4). 2020.
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