Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sketchbook

Obviously, it does not mean I've started a new hobby of sketching and thus bought a sketchbook. Nope... definitely not!

What it refers to is the Manga/Anime I came across: Sketchbook.

The manga is in a comic strip style so I thought: nothing much to get excited about. But, I read it anyway because the art was good and humorous. The humour as such is not entirely in the story or the situations portrayed but the 'Japanese way' of depicting emotions of characters. It is used extensively and achieves a new height in this manga which is refreshing and riveting!

But then reading got over soon since the chapters have barely 7-8 pages on average and 22 scanlated chapters do not take too long to read! So I ventured ahead, opened Wikipedia to get to know how many chapters are there altogether. It says 5 volumes have been released and I'd just started the 2nd volume so I was thrilled to know there will be lots more pages to read in the future...

Apart from this, I also saw the info that Sketchbook has been animated into 13 episodes titled "Sketchbook ~Full Color'S~". I thought how can you animate a comic strip which actually does not have an expressed theme into something worth viewing? I remembered Garfield's two movies which were good but compared to the strip itself, those definitely lacked something. In other words, its not the same: the (animated) movies can not really match the one-day (usually) adventures of free-willed Garfield.

But realizing that watching animes is a part of my hobby and since I watch only 'One Piece' nowadays, I decided to give it a try. I watched the first episode, then second and then third. I could not stop myself: the anime was too damn good... much better than the strip-styled manga. Apart from having the 'obvious advantages' of a different media (colour & video), the anime truly captured the theme of having no theme in particular. The simplicity of the usual events in the life of characters, their interactions among themselves and their art club activities were presented so intricately and (possibly) accurately that I was left gaping at my laptop's screen and awe-inspired to develop a quote by myself: "Simplicity is Beauty".

It seems like a take on the title of Ian Stewart's book "Beauty is Truth" but who cares. When I asked Shantanu about his views on above-mentioned quote he quite hesitatingly agreed by saying 'in acads.. yes because my mind can only understand simple things..' It seemed as if he anticipated my next question to be about 'naked beauty' or 'bare bottom' if he had not answered my query in that particular manner!

Anyway,  we are digressing here so lets get back to 'Sketchbook'. So, I recommended the first episode to him as he was out looking for a good movie to watch and waste some time. I hoped he would enjoy it. Rather, he said 'was boring; there was nothing in it...' I was too optimistic and naive in thinking that someone watching anime for probably the first time would enjoy it just based on the art and would ignore the null theme of the story!

So, I started thinking why did I like it and he not... First lets analyze his situation:

  • First time (or so) watching an anime;
  • Video is subbed, got to keep track of subtitles, thus loosing some of the nuances of the art;
  • Not familiar with 'chibi' art style (generally used to depict character's moods in animes) which is used extensively and mostly generates the humour in 'Sketchbook';
  • Obviously, no theme as such: the episode follows a shy & quiet girl and her art club 'friends' trying to find something interesting to draw - a typical day of their life: no action, romance, mystery, comedy or even drama!

This probably explains a lot - at least I'm satisfied with this explanation. Now then, lets analyze my situation:

  • Definitely not my first time watching animes;
  • I've watched more than enough of subbed videos to bother about this fact;
  • Chibi art style is one of the many reasons I like animes;
  • This fourth point got me thinking for a while - why do I like this 'so simple' anime?

Then I remembered Rutherford's words: "I am always a believer in simplicity, being a simple person myself. " Though Shantanu's earlier words also profess similar convictions, I guess quoting Rutherford makes people believe my 'knowledge' is not confined to an extremely narrow potential well. Thinking back about my schooldays, I see why I like this anime... its because my daily routine back then (even now!) was also as simple as (actually more so!) these character's. So I enjoyed seeing the 'routine' stuff with no 'ulterior motives' from third person's perspective. It is really fun (or pleasing) to know that someone exists out there (Totan Kobako) who also 'thinks' like me! :)

If you want to know what I'm talking about and decide on your own about the so-called 'simplicity' and 'beauty' of this anime then go ahead and watch

Sketchbook ~Full Color'S~ Ep-01