"Hold still and let me draw you!"
Everything I said about the last volume continues to be true in this one. The series could be a lot better, but Usamaru Furuya's natural knack for bizarre imagery (remember, this guy got his start in Garo) continues to shine through in fascinating ways.
The definite highlight from an artistic perspective is probably "Vision 5: Ota's Girlfriend." Suigura's childhood friend Ota has been bragging about his girlfriend, and Suigura is getting jealous. As Hikari's arm is starting to rot again, so once again dives into the psychological world of his sketch book to help out Suigura...'s childhood friend Ota?!? Ota's mental turmoil is a wonder to look at, literally a twisting Rubik's Cube of photos, texts, and blog posts. The other stories in the volume (there are only three, but they're long ones) are less psychedelic, but are well done, gripping entertainment, and cover such topical issues as self-hating nerds, gender identity, and disillusionment.
The artwork is impressive; for example, the otherwise paint-by-numbers "Vision 7: Hishida's Holy War" was given that extra emotional oomph by the expressive foreshadowing and a quirky pop-up book sequence. Also, in "Vision 6: Kotone and Arengurion" and "Vision 8: Borise World and Moe", Furuya shows an amazing skill at aping the artwork of others to create an interesting affect: he can even ape the apers (AKA doujinshi artists)!
However, the big draw for shilling out another ten bucks would likely be Hikari himself and his gloriously wimpish personality. He may be helping others, but all he REALLY wants to do is to sit back, chew his nails, and draw some good-looking muscles. On top of that, Furuya has smartly made it plausible that none of Hikari's adventures happened, and that he's just rationalizing his anti-social behavior that now rampant through his life, which is not an easy task to pull off. I suspect that in the final chapter, the one in need of help will be him.
Short Cuts Volume 1
For the most part, fanservice-heavy comedy does not work. The underlying problem is that nearly every single one of these seems to think that nudity itself is bloody hilarious, while really, it is completely unrealistic to think shoving boobies in a flat protagonist's face will make anyone really laugh. Short Cuts solves this problem by using the rampant sexuality as an excuse to be absolutely demented.
Reminiscent of modern American cartoons like Family Guy and South Park in tone, Short Cuts is a series of brief gags (or "cuts", as the comic calls them) with minimal continuity, and a focus on superficial "ko-gal" teenage girls, the men who long for them, and the ruin of society in general.
Short Cuts is not great; the globs of FS and occasional cultural in-joke make things very hit-and-miss. But, when things get funny, they get hilarious. This is definitely aided by the rapid-fire nature of the "cuts", which keep the jokes from getting stale. Also, Furuya's formidable skill at graphic narrative shines through at many moments, particularly in one brilliant gag about stalkers. On the other hand, I found the interview with the author more interesting than the book itself. I hope I can find the second and final volume of this out of print series soon, because I can't wait for more.