Title: Under The Bridge
Genres: Comedy, Slice of Life, Seinen
Author: Harold Sakuishi
Artist: Harold Sakuishi
Publication: Young Magazine (Monthly)
Start Date: May 12, 2003
End Date: Finished
Number of chapters at review: 1 (One Shot)
Number of chapters read by reviewer: 1

General Overview:
Harold Sakuishi (the mangaka of BECK) has been chosen to be send to a concert of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, where he should interview the band members and then draw a “wrap-up comic” about this meeting. “Under The Bridge” tells us the story of Harold’s journey to meet the RHCP and what this meeting means to him.

Category Ratings: (1-10 scale)

Art: 9
Hands down, I’ve never read Sakuishi’s works before, even though I’ve heard of BECK before and I can most definitely say that it was waste, simply because I didn’t get the chance to enjoy his art. Sakuishi has very clean art, he uses thin lines in combination with awesome character designs. Basically, his art is a little mix of Obata’s techniques and Takehiko’s “feeling”.

Plot: 8
Sakuishi wrote a very solid plot in this one shot. Even though “this story is 99.5 % fictional” it still leaves a feeling that it is completely believable. This is achieved through many means. One on hand there is the superb cast, on the other there is the setting of meeting one of the most infamous bands that currently exist. I mean, this is a story about a RL mangaka meeting a RL band. Is there a way to write an even more realistic plot than this? Even if it is “99.5 % fictional”. >_>

Characters: 9
One of the strong points in Under the Bridge. It’s not often that you see a fully developed cast within the boundaries of a one shot. There are a lot of characters in this piece and the most interesting part about them is that every single one gets some level of attention and character development. Some get more, some get less, but all of them are more than just three dimensional stick figures. Not to mention that they each have a unique design to boost their already unique personalities which ultimately leads to the “complete” feeling of Under The Bridge’s cast.

Theme: 8
Under The Bridge covers many different themes. It faintly touches on the topic of what you are ready to sacrifice to achieve your dreams, and it gives us a little inside on relationship within a work collective in the manga industry. At one point we see a demonstration of the idea that even stars are only human beings, on another we see an individual growth through the help of music. Long story short. Sakuishi mixed up a lot of between the lines stuff in this one shot and you shouldn’t spend too much time trying to find all of it, but simply enjoy the beauty of the art and let yourself get swapped up in the plot. (LOL)

Originality: 9
There are a lot of original things in the one shot. Starting from the fact that an American band is interviewed by a Japanese mangaka with a not entirely Japanese name and ending with the various whole background stories of the supporting characters. In the end, writing a story about a mangaka is still not enough to be considered mainstream, but it is gradually becoming one of the more popular themes in the manga industry. On the other hand, writing a story about yourself meeting the RHCP, (even if it is only 0,05 % true) still is pretty original, in my humble opinion.

Overall: 8
If I would ever make a “100 One Shots to read before you die” list Under The Bridge would without doubt be part of it. Maybe not at the very top but definitely a solid place somewhere in the middle. Aside from the fantastic art, we see a demonstration of professional story telling that has been carried out the upper most levels. It’s these kind of one shots that you can enjoy even more when you have a more or less decent history of manga reading experience and can compare the various elements with other works. “Everything is learned through comparison” and Under the Bridge shines even more when you compare it to other one shots.

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