GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class, Vol. 5

By Satoko Kiyuduki. Released in Japan by Houbunsha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Manga Time Kirara Carat. Released in North America by Yen Press.

As I have mentioned before, there are an awful lot of 4-koma series coming out featuring a bunch of eccentric, yet cute and lovable girls around high school age. Indeed, most of them are also being put out by Yen. And yet I’ve always enjoyed reading GA the most, particularly as it rewards detail-observant readers. There’s a lot going on here, not least of which is how much this series has taught me about art. And about how to draw a panda properly.


Actually, much of this volume takes place over the summer break, meaning we get the opportunity to observe the girls outside of the school environment. (Though this does mean we get less of the ‘B’ cast, i,e, Awara and company.) We even get to see a couple more family members, particularly Namiko’s sister, who turns out to be the sort of aggressively good at everything big sister that would drive Namiko insane (which is indeed what happens). We also get a brief view (back only) of Noda’s gorgeous big sister of legend. The siblings in GA tend to show off a lot of that ‘we can’t stand each other, but love each other deep down’ dynamic you like to see in comics like these.

The ‘art’ parts of the volume focus on the four seasons, and how you get your piece to show off what spring means, or summer, etc. This includes several examples of works that do precisely thins, both Western and Japanese, so you can go to Google and look up paintings like ‘Autumn in the Village’ by Marc Chagall or ‘Beach Baskets in Holland’ by Wassily Kandinsky. The art actually helps you to understand the girls better, as you see how they might see the world, and what kind of canvas they want to create with it.

The girls, by the way, are exceedingly cute here, as you would expect. A trip to a summer festival is enlivened by a fox spirit briefly taking the place of one of the girls (Kisaragi being Kisaragi, she goes to the fox shrine the day after to thank them for having fun with the rest of the girls). A trip means postcards, which the girls hand-draw, and discussion of how to balance picture and words (it also shows Namiko and Noda talking about getting married one day – sorry, yuri fans!). Perhaps the most poignant chapter shows Noda unknowingly showing up for school the first day of summer break, and having lunch while pretending her friends are there around her. Noda surrounded by people is the best Noda, I think we all agree.

As ever, if you’re looking for a deep manga with a lot to say about the human condition, this isn’t the one for you. It’s a 4-koma about cute high school kids, and no amount of praise from me is going to change that. If you do enjoy this genre, however, GA is fantastic, balancing humor, cuteness, and an appreciation of art, even if you aren’t artistic. It doesn’t come out very often (it’s caught up with Japan), but is always recommended.

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  1. Oh yes. Cannot wait for this to arrive in the post. Thanks for this review as I had forgotten that I had this on order, now I can look forward to it ^^.


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