Looking for a serious manga about the realities of studying art? then read Blue period. Would you rather read the story of an aggressively perky art student who apparently didn’t prepare for her major in oil painting, yet got into art school and got all the subtlety a hot pink bulldozer? So, my friends, A canvas in the colors of Nico may be the book for you. The story follows Nico, a young woman who leaves her small island community for a mainland art college. Nico is almost unbearably perky and eccentric, a walking stereotype of the free-wheeling art student who peoples fiction rather than reality, and while fiction is in no way bound to adhere to reality, A canvas in the colors of Nico‘ Relying on the idea that to be special, Nico has to be goofy risks alienating readers. She has a lot to take.
And she is of course not the only character in the story. All of the players in this room suffer from being overdone to the point of harm almost universally, each taking a base trope and then running with it as far as they can go. While Nico is our giddy innocent who’s never taken on a challenge he can’t smile about, Togo, his upperclassman, is introduced when he films all the newcomers on campus without their consent, at the looking for someone he can take advantage of. This naturally turns out to be Nico, and soon he is manipulating her for his own benefit – something he has a history of, if school chatter is to be believed. Then there’s Kageiwa, a perfect stereotype of the jerk teacher who lets the whole class know who got which grade and brags about how many people fail his seminar, Mitsuki, the top performer who becomes the Nico’s best friend, and Nishinomori, the serious student who gets drawn into Nico’s plans. Mitsuki is as close to a likable character as you can get, but she’s so harmless she’s just sort of the, saying everything Nico needs to hear to move the plot forward. We’re told she’s a famous, or at least professional, illustrator who decided to go back to school for classic oil painting, but we never see her work, which means you just have to trust the creator on this point. And she doesn’t do enough to earn that trust in this volume, especially since we’re in the same boat with Nico and Nishinomori’s art – we don’t really see it, we just read how it is . In a story set in an art school and based on the art of the students, this is a major problem. Based on my experiences teaching art students and seeing my sister take both an undergraduate and a master’s program in art, I can’t say much about this volume ringing true . The designer says she drew on her experiences in art school, but either she had a very different one than most art students I know, or she painted it all with a liberal brush. The story lives and dies on the heroine Nico’s handcrafted quirkiness, and that’s frankly a bit too much. Nico is so ~crazy~ and ~special~ that she becomes hard to take seriously, and we are forced to wonder why she specializes in oil painting rather than illustration or fine art. performance (assuming it’s a major), because she’s very interested in putting on a show. While it’s a trick that she uses her hair as a paintbrush during an exhibition Togo has her do, her apparent ignorance of most oil painting materials and techniques seems shocking, as if she were listed at school just because she’s the heroine. . While that’s true in the writing sense – that’s the premise of the show, after all – it doesn’t quite work in practice, especially when shows like Blue period and Blank Canvas: My So-Called Artist Journey also exist. That’s not to say that all series with the same theme have to be built exactly the same way, and if you don’t care about those other two more serious stories, this might work for you. But it feels like it’s too harsh, and it really gets bogged down, especially in cases like when a teacher points to Nico as an example of how, as an art school, they “welcome eccentrics like her”.
On the plus side, Kageiwa really needs to be taken down, and Nico’s idea of having a “chess exhibition” is decent. The man not only punishes her for speaking his own mind and standing up for a classmate, but he also repeatedly calls her a monkey in class, and that’s way outside the realm of acceptable behavior. The fact that Nico’s plan has parallels to how Édouard Manet burst into the art world in the 19th century is also one of the best touches in the book, and while there are perhaps a little too much emphasis on the impressionists is always a good way to introduce a bit of art history into the mix. And while we may not see much of Nico’s or anyone else’s art, Nao ShikitaThe art of is very appealing. It’s from the 90s shoujo sensibility that works well and smells nostalgic, and the pages are very well put together making the book easy to read.
I may be too hard on A canvas in the colors of Nico‘ first volume. It’s by no means a terrible book, and Nico’s drive to succeed is admirable. But the candy-colored vision of art school is just a little too over the top and Nico herself can be very hard to bear, especially if you relate more to Nishinomori, who is constantly made uncomfortable by her actions in his name. It’s the kind of book that’s perhaps best not taken too seriously, and if you can, it can end up being a lot of fun.