Seeing preview listings for a seventh volume of GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class sparked some fresh anticipation for a four-panel manga series that's managed to hang on in my thoughts despite its not seeming to have quite the same general impact as some other four-panel series also published over here by Yen Press; with GA still shelved next to my eight volumes of the series they publish as "Sunshine Sketch" where I've relocated K-ON! to much more out of the way, I could think "it wasn't that far behind," and that its paper quality hadn't changed halfway through the long run the way Sunshine Sketch's did (although the price per volume did climb). Not that long before that seventh volume was to show up, though, I heard it would be the final instalment in the series. That seemed to concentrate and clarify my thoughts that much further.
The resemblance of four-panel manga to comic strips gets my attention, but I suppose reading through them can provoke easy impressions of "comedy being hard to translate." I can also suppose that if you're not intent on "gags," "endearing characters" can offer something too, but perhaps in the end I think back to Azumanga Daioh and try to suppose "series like it" "try to distinguish themselves" by giving their casts of four to six high school girls an additional themed hobby. GA's hobby is right in its subtitle, and its characters do seem much more focused on "art" than the central joke of K-ON! had its characters really involved with music, or even than Sunshine Sketch's characters can seem "focused" on their own art school. However, this just might be a different way of admitting GA's characters aren't as memorable, save perhaps for a few (such as the deadpan student called "the Professor'). I was conscious reading through the final volume of a whole secondary cast at times not quite connected to the five girls on the covers and of how it only seemed apparent the older students were less about delivering art-themed gags, even with their graduation marking the end of the series.
Still, I could focus on what really seemed to help this series stick in my own mind, that the art was quite detailed and distinctive for fitting into small panels. I might even be able to say Azumanga Daioh, K-ON!, and Sunshine Sketch were helped to stick in my memory through anime adaptations of all or most of their length; I know GA had an anime adaptation as well, but it was shorter, was only streamed online, and I haven't got around to watching it anyway. On finishing the seventh volume I took out the first just for a casual glance; it was something to realise almost eight years separated their printings, but getting past that I did take a look inside the first volume and realised the art style had evolved quite a bit over that time. As I've just said, reading through a completed manga series over again keeps managing to be somehow beyond my grasp; I at least have positive memories of this series to hold on to, though.
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