Akiko Higashimura, Blank Canvas 2 (2013)

Original title: かくかくしかじか 2 / French Translation 2020

I’m always on the lookout for mangas that are not typically for young men (seinen) with lots of muscle and violence, or for young girls (shojo) with cutesy love stories. Luckily, a sliver of the manga market is for other artistic endeavors. This one is categorized as a josei, a manga for adult female readers, but I guess it could talk to anyone who has struggled as a student, which makes for a lot of people! It is also an autobiography, which is pretty unusual for mangas.

In the first volume, which I read in December last year, young Akiko managed to pass the very competitive university of arts by cramming for the exams with a very unconventional teacher. She’s now at university far from her family, her teacher and her usual environment (she’s from the tropical beaches and she got a northern university). It’s really hard for her to adjust and to get back to work, all the more as painting is not really what she wants: her secret dream is to be a mangaka.

Akiko is a very frustrating, annoying older teenager, and I totally reacted to the book as a mother of a young teenager (and future college student?). She does everything wrong: drink too much, spend her allowance, skip her classes, flunk her exams, lie to her parents and her teacher. The book is both honest and humorous. She also tells the story as an adult Akiko who knows better and reflects on her mistakes. The ending of this volume, when her former teacher comes to visit, is quite moving. I can’t wait to read the next volumes to see how Akiko manages to turn her bad habits around.

3 thoughts on “Akiko Higashimura, Blank Canvas 2 (2013)

  1. I’ve tried a couple manga and neither of them clicked. Maybe they weren’t the right kind. Perhaps I will see if my library has this one and give it a try sometime.

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