Sketchy Volume 1: That Girl



What happens when you’re a 30-something, down on your luck feeling stuck at the equivalent of the end of your life, with nowhere to go? Well, as Sketchy volume 1 posits, you pick up skating. Sketchy is the kind of series with a synopsis that feels impossible to ignore, and rightfully so. It’s an examination of freedom and expression via an outlet unrelated to the daily experiences of the characters in this volume. It’s a way for these women to open up a new door in their lives that gives them the strength to keep on pushing, and it’s expressed really well. Sure, it does strike upon a formula to create the outlines of its characters, but I think ultimately they all present in different enough ways that they’re each worthwhile in their own right.

The general rule of thumb with the three women of this volume is this: women who are unsatisfied with life, at an intersection of stop between professional and personal where they see no future. In a sense, that includes romance trouble as well as work, but it’s more in terms of broad strokes in relation to how these women view and interact with romance. For instance, with our first main character Ako Kawasumi, she has a boyfriend of several years but they’re yet to marry. The boyfriend continually claims its due to his own dissatisfaction with himself and his station in life, but I think it’s rather safe to view it as fear of commitment and long term partnership. Ako’s boyfriend routinely keeps his distance, and remains almost bluntly candid with their conversations, effectively pushing their relationship closer to a friendship- though even then, Ako is basically used by him as an outlet for his complaints about media.

On the kick/flip (pun intended) side we have workaholic Takehana, making the first major career change in her life by moving departments as part of a publishing company. Rather than Ako’s one-sided self-aware farce of a romance, Takehana’s is the opposite. She moved jobs because she was having an affair with an author’s husband. It sounds like “juicy” drama, but Sketchy volume 1 plays it off as the mundane failings of a woman with nowhere else to go. It’s not a forbidden love, but rather the pent up stress and isolation of her work manifest. In a sense, you could say that Takehana is the opposite to Kawasumi, and you’d be correct. Makihirochi really plays that up with their designs as well- Kawasumi having longer blonde hair whereas Takehana has shorter dark hair. Kawasumi’s in a relationship with no love, while Takehana directed all her emotions towards an affair. Kawasumi needed a push to get into skating in proper, but Takehana leapt at it of her own accord. Takehana watched Lords of Dogtown (a real movie which you should watch – alongside Dogtown, and Z-Boys), but Kawasumi hasn’t seen it yet. Also, if it wasn’t clear enough, there’s a high likelihood that the “Asuka” Kawasumi mentions earlier on is in fact Takehana. She’s the only character we don’t get the first name of, so it really only make sense at this junction.

Anyways, I’ve inadvertently talked enough about how two of our three leads ended up joining skating (which I’ll talk about after this), but I haven’t talked about our third yet- Shii Kohinata, a 26 year old working at the same DVD store as Kawasumi. Her past and present is much more muddy, and as a result takes a slightly different path. Originally, she had dreams of being a stylist, but after working in the field and dealing with some heavy bits of reality, she ended up running away. Though before we even learn of that as an aspect of her character, we see that in practice with conversations. After all, Kohinata is the one that recommended Kawasumi take skating lessons, but when Kawasumi invited her along to them she initially declined. Similarly, though her cousin may be insufferably frustrating, he did offer to give her a job in her field, but ultimately the hatred for her cousin and the fear of her past forced her away from it.

So, a quick interlude on skating in Sketchy volume 1. I wouldn’t say it’s superficial, but I also wouldn’t say that this first volume is too concerned with getting into the nitty gritty of skating immediately. It’s comfortable enough to open Pandora’s Box with a single training session for Kawasumi, but it also realizes that if it lets everything out from the get-go that many won’t be interested. Rather, it tends to obfuscate a good bit of skateboarding, and use it purely as a form of wonder or beauty for these characters to be intrigued by. Kawasumi gets pulled in by the cool tricks, Takehana is captured by the relationships and history, and Kohinata can’t take her eye of the styles. It’s a well orchestrated relationship and expression of the hobby, and it’s one that’s sure to grow alongside the interest our leads have in it.

Now, back to the story. Having gotten a grasp of our characters and their lives, you start to see a bigger picture slowly reveal. All three of these women have ways in which their lives connect one another- in the vaguest sense, and I don’t mean friendships. Their passions and hardships create a web of connections that inevitably finds another waiting at the other end. It means that sometimes this trio can share in feelings of insecurity or other emotions, but it also means that there’s times where these women find ways to help one another. With Kawasumi and Kohinata being the only ones directly acquainted currently, we only have them as an example, but we can already see that in effect. Kohinata is the person who gave Kawasumi the push to learn how to skate, and Kawasumi (via her Instagram) is the one that opened Kohinata’s world up to the intersection of skating and fashion.

Sketchy volume 1 is a debut volume that just screams of potential and beauty to me. This threesome of women with hearts stained by dissatisfaction and worlds that reject them have found each other, and will undoubtedly band together to create their own existence. It’s a wonderful story that bundles together the challenges of life, and the wonder of expression through passion, told through the lens of adult women. Sketchy is a story that I really didn’t I would see, ever, but it’s here now and it feels… deeply comforting. Nothing’s ever too late, and nothing’s ever out of reach. The world may not always accept you, but if you can find the courage to carve your own path, you don’t need it to.

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