Overall Rating: A+
Synopsis: Beck is a manga by Harold Sakuishi that follows Koyuki, a junior high nerd. At the beginning of the series, Koyuki leads a boring life, with a pervert as his only friend. That all changes when he saves a strange looking dog named Beck, and meets the dog's owner, Ryuusuke. The two become friends, and Koyuki starts down the path to being cool.
Beck centers around a band formed by Ryuusuke, and its rise to fame, but that's not what the series is about. The manga primarily follows Koyuki, and focuses on his trouble with girls, trying to learn to play the guitar, getting extorted for money by a bully, and his failing grades. Oh, yeah, and his swimming lessons from Saitou-san. The series touches on Koyuki's struggles in a way that makes the fact that he is becoming famous (at least at his school and in underground clubs) for his singing.
As the story progresses, it focuses more and more on the fledgling band, and its rise in popularity. At the end of volume 7, there is even an interesting subplot based around Ryuusuke's guitar, Lucille. It's these little things, subplots that don't focus on the band itself, but on its members that make Beck one of the better manga out there. It makes the characters intriguing, and I identify with the geek in Koyuki. Maybe one day, I can be in a Japanese punk band...