The Beginner’s Primer to the Upcoming ‘Look Back’ Anime Film

✒️When Two Students Aspire to Become Manga Artists, The Paths They Choose Changes Their Lives Forever. 📚

Perhaps, you’re like me and you lost your sh!t when you first saw the animated trailer for the upcoming Look Back film, recently? Well aware of the Shonen glorious creation Chainsaw Man, that went on to become a global hit, Tatsuki Fujimoto’s next manga work to be adapted will be based on a one shot he created and posted online after Chainsaw Man‘s success. While both works are dark, and have some coming of age vibes, Look Back is sold as “A poignant story of growing up and moving forward that only Tatsuki Fujimoto, the creator of Chainsaw Man, could have crafted.” Here’s a mostly spoiler free guide for anyone who wants to know the 411 of one of the most anticipated anime films coming this Summer!

Log line:

The overly confident Fujino and the shut-in Kyomoto couldn’t be more different, but a love of drawing manga brings these two small-town girls together. 

Who Created it:

Tatsuki Fujimoto. He’s a manga creator who won an Honorable Mention in the November 2013 Shueisha Crown Newcomers’ Awards for his debut one-shot story “Love is Blind.” His very first series Fire Punch ran for eight volumes. Chainsaw Man began serialization in 2018 in Weekly Shonen Jump. Now, with over 15 million volumes sold, the anime adaptation was later released in 2022 to wild acclaim by audiences. 

The success of Chainsaw Man shot Fujimoto into global popularity and success, as well as winning the Harvey Awards for Best Manga three times between 2021 and 2023. Fujimoto published the one-shot Look Back on Shōnen Jump+ back in July 2021. (Other one-shot manga from Fujiimoto created in between working on Chainsaw Man include Goodbye, Eri, and Just Listen to the Song. Both of these are available to read on the Shonen Jump app.) The one-shot chapter was collected by Shueisha in a single volume, released in September 2021, and an English language translation being released the following year.

What is it About:

When two students aspire to become manga artists, the paths they choose change their lives forever. Look Back follows the coming-of-age tale of Ayumu Fujino, a super confident elementary schooler and her shut-in classmate, Kyomoto. The two first cross paths over a friendly rivalry in elementary school upon discovering their shared love of manga creation, which eventually blossoms into camaraderie as they mature into their young adulthood.

Who Would This Appeal to:

Folks who love the drama, horror, and thriller genres

Folks who love manga about creating manga and its creators

Folks who enjoy animated stories that are dark and provoking

Folks who want to read manga about the dread and thrills of adolescence 

Folks who love coming of age stories, stories about growing up, and stories about friendship 

Fans of Tatsuki Fujimoto and/or people looking to see more of work adapted into animated media

© Tatsuki Fujimoto/Shueisha © 2024 Look Back Production Committee
Can My Kid(s) Read/Watch It:

In all seriousness, like Chainsaw Man, Look Back is NOT for the younger readers who like manga and anime. Keep this manga and its upcoming anime adaptation for the older teen and up demographic. The manga is labeled as “TEEN PLUS”. On the Viz website, Teen Plus “may be suitable for older teens and adults. For example, may contain intense and/or gory violence, sexual content, frequent strong language, alcohol, tobacco, and/or other substance use.” 

I reread Look Back to write this primer guide and was reminded of a startling plot point that stunned even the most mature adults in the chat that we want to steer the little ones away from. (Side note for parents, guardians, and educators: the Common Sense Media website does have some anime and Japanese animated related entries and follow-up articles. For example, see what they have on their site via their best Anime movie list and even their Anime TV for Teens and Tweens)

Where Can I Read It:

You can read on the Shonen jump app and website and also purchase an eBook copy. If you want physical copies, at most places that sell comics and books like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million,, Crunchyroll, Walmart, and even some comic book stores.

What Anime Studio is Responsible for This Adaptation:

Unlike Chainsaw Man, whose first season and upcoming film (adaptation of its Reze arc?) are being animated by Studio Mappa, Look Back is being animated by Studio Durian. This anime film is directed by Kiyotaka Oshiyama, an industry veteran who has previously worked in such acclaimed anime productions such as Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance, The First Slam Dunk and a few Studio Ghibli films like The Boy and The Heron even, to name a few.

What’s a Random Fun Fact That I Should Know:

The director for this film: Kiyotaka Oshiyama has designed Pokémon cards! True story! He has drawn 11 Pokémon cards in total since 2021 and has spoken about them and the process via X (Twitter). Thanks Anime News Network for this internet rabbit hole bit of trivia!

Who are Some Important Characters I Should Know About:

Ayumu Fujino, a headstrong, sometimes overconfident elementary school student who is known as “the artist” when this manga first opens. She’s known for the four panel manga strips in the weekly school paper that are loved by her classmates. Her life changes when her teacher asks her to give up one of the manga slots for another student she’s never seen or met before: Kyomoto. The other girl is a truant in the next class over and won’t come to school but wants to try her hand at creating manga.

The teacher thinks this will help her get back to attending classes and Fujino hesitatingly agrees–manga is her thing. Being creative and adored is her thing. What’s the worse that an amateur who can’t even grow the courage to come to school–can come up with? The following weekly school paper has both girls’ comics next to each other and to Fujino’s despair: Kyomoto’s comic is leagues better than hers in every way. This event begins their fateful meeting on the page and a catalyst for both for the rest of their lives.

Kyomoto, a younger girl who is a shut-in at the beginning of the manga. Not attending classes, she still has access to the weekly school newspaper, and this is how she comes to know of Fujino’s art. Her artwork blows Fujino’s out the water to the point where the older girl starts seeing her as a rival in the weekly school paper comic. A chance meeting leads to the shyer and quieter girl dropping a shocking confession to Fujino, and this leads to them becoming friends, collaborators, and rivals still, later in life.

Fujino becomes her best friend, and for many years she allowed the older girl to take her hand and carry her along on adventures. Becoming perhaps the first friend she ever had and also the one person who brought her out of her shell and back into the world from being a shut-in; Kyomoto thinks highly of her. Their friendship runs its course as all friendships do until a life changing event happens brings their friendship back to the spotlight.

What are Some Important Themes/Plot Points I Might Want to Know About:

Look Back is a coming-of-age story about growing up, maturity, and cherishing those we call friends. I’d dare to say the story messaging is a reminder that pride, the limits that we place on ourselves and others, and youthful arrogance complicate the lives we lead. This is actually my favorite Fujimoto work via manga as I love stories that center girls, and this one is so quiet and blindsiding with a story about looking back on your past, your past self, and regrets and loves.

© Tatsuki Fujimoto/Shueisha © 2024 Look Back Production Committee
What are Folks Who Read the Manga Looking Forward to Seeing Most:

Look Back is a work that is dark and ingenious, fans of the original work will perhaps most be looking of the animated exploration of not just a love of manga but of the people in one’s adolescence who change lives forever. Fans are looking forward to seeing a story about reaching one’s potential, the great love between friends, and the full range of emotions that people don’t bother to hide: envy, admiration, guilt, and remembering the wholeness when beside the person who perhaps most understood you best.

The anime film is set to release in Japan on June 28, 2024. At the time of writing, an international premiere date has yet to be confirmed. In the meantime, keep an eye out for updates via the film’s official X account or website.

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  • Carrie McClain is writer, editor and media scholar. Other times she's known as a Starfleet Communications Officer, Comics Auntie, and Golden Saucer Frequenter. Nowadays you can usually find her avoiding Truck-kun and forgetting her magical girl transformation device. She/Her

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