New Manga Review - Beat & Motion by Naoki Fujita (Contains Spoilers)


Chapter 1 of Beat and Motion by Naoki Fujita is perhaps the most relatable 69-pages of manga that I have ever read. It tells the story of Tatsuhiko, a young man who has dabbled with various creative projects growing up, but for several reasons has given up on all of them. As a young adult he has become jaded and bitter toward his friends who haven't given up. He resents the success of others, even though deep down he knows that he has no one to blame but himself.


This cycle of disappointment is broken when Tatsuhiko encounters a girl at a bar. She overhears him discouraging his friend from pursuing his dream of entering a novel writing contest. As he and the girl walk to the train station she calls him out. 


She pretends to kick him into oncoming traffic. For a moment, Tatsuhiko is afraid that he will die. When he realizes that he is fine, the mysterious girl informs him that now that he's faced the worst he doesn't need to be afraid of whatever was holding him back. He takes a long look in the mirror and he doesn't like what he sees. 


Tatsuhiko revisits his old animation projects and decides that it's time to try again. He spends the next three months pouring everything he has into a two minute long animation project. 


He wakes up the next morning to find that the post has blown up, and that his favorite music artist wants to do a collaboration. 


In a twist that I found pretty obvious, the musical artist "Nico" is the very same girl who called him out for being a jealous loser. 


This is where Chapter 1 ends. This manga hits very close to home for me. I'm not proud of it, but I have definitely been that guy. I draw. I write. I've even dabbled in music. All of it to very little acclaim or success. Like Tatsuhiko, I became embittered toward others who had the courage and dedication that I lacked. It took me a very long time to come to terms with the reality that the problem was me. I eventually did give things another try. I didn't meet with quite the viral success that our protagonist did, but I did win a few small victories. I'm much happier with myself. I'm also much more capable of being happy for others. 

It will be interesting to see how this theme evolves as the manga goes on. I hope they don't drop it now that the protagonist has had some success. I'm very interested to see how much of the manga will be focused on the production of animated music videos. This is another niche interest of mine that I'm shocked to see a manga about. 

With that said, I do have some concerns. In this first chapter, Nico is a textbook example of the manic pixie dream girl trope. I'm really hoping that future chapters will develop her into a real character. Also, while animated music videos are an incredible and unique artform, I'm concerned that there is not enough drama surrounding their production to sustain a manga for very long. It's worth noting that I've been wrong about this sort of thing before. Akane-banashi has quickly become one of my favorite series in shonen jump, and 50-chapters in, it shows no signs of slowing down. 

Whether this evolves into a mature and sustainable series or not. I got a fun little story out of just this first chapter. I'd recommend this to anyone who ever tried their hand at a creative pursuit and found themselves frustrated by a lack of progress. I'm really rooting for this manga. 

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