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Solanin

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating

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Solanin by Asano Inio, published by  VIZ Media Manga

Solanin

2006 Inio ASANO / Shogakukan Inc.

The Bottom Line

After graduating from college, two twenty-somethings try to reconcile their youthful dreams with the crushing mediocrity of their post-graduation adult lives. While Solanin can be a bit slow-paced, this slice-of-life story picks up steam midway, as a fateful event re-awakens Meiko's passion for life.

While this sounds like the kind of emo navel-gazing that's common in American indie comics, Solanin offers appealing artwork with a heartfelt and humorous story that's a step above a lot of what's out there. An extraordinarily enjoyable grown-up graphic novel that will appeal to readers who usually shy away from manga.

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Pros

  • Captures the angst and uncertainty of a young adult's life with humor and heart
  • A memorable and touching one-shot story that's not too sappy or predictable
  • Lovely line work and energetic concert scenes done with an appealing, distinctive art style
  • Delightfully quirky characters who bounce off each other in a way that's real and relatable
  • Nicely edited with natural, flowing dialogue and classy / cool book design

Cons

  • As a slice of life story, it can be a bit slow-moving compared to more manic manga series
  • At times, twenty-somethings Meiko and Naruo can seem like whiney navel gazers

Description

  • Original Title: Solanin (Japan)
  • Author & Artist: Inio Asano
  • Publishers:
  • ISBN: 978-1421523217
  • Cover Price: $17.99 US / $21.00 CANADA
  • Age Rating: OT – Older Teens, Age 16+ for adult romance, mature themes
    More about content ratings.
  • Manga Genres:
  • US Publication Date: October 2008
    Japan Publication Date: December 2005
  • Book Description: 432 pages, black and white illustrations, 6 color pages
  • More Manga by Inio Asano:
    • What a Wonderful World!
    • Hikari no Machi (City of Light)
    • Oyasumi Punpun(Goodnight Punpun)

Guide Review - Solanin

Meiko is a Tokyo twenty-something who feels like life is passing her by. Her office job bores her to tears. Her slacker / frustrated musician boyfriend Naruo can barely get by with his part-time job, so he moved in with her. Her parents keep sending her care packages filled with vegetables that she's sick of eating. To Meiko, adulthood has proven to be grossly overrated. Meanwhile, Naruo is also coming to the sad realization that his college dreams of becoming a rock star are fading fast.

When the crushing mediocrity of her life finally gets to her, Meiko quits her job to give her dreams one more try. All this would be great if she only knew what her dreams actually are. In the meantime, she encourages Naruo to give his music career one more shot. But fate has some surprises in store for this couple that I won't reveal here, because it'll lessen your enjoyment of this appealing slice-of-life graphic novel gem.

You might not need college friends in rock bands to love Solanin, but that's one reason why this story captured my heart. The crappy starter apartment, the first lame office job, the dinners on a budget, the nights spent drinking beer and laughing with friends -- these mundane but memorable moments of twenty-something life are all captured with humor and heart without being overly sappy or predictable.

Rather than relying on the usual mainstream manga style, Asano has a distinctive, appealing art style with lovely linework and expressive, relatable characters. Compared to your average shojo or shonen story, Solanin is a more personal, introspective story that will appeal to fans of indie comics artists like Adrian Tomine, Jaime Hernandez and Jessica Abel.

Like indie comics, Solanin occasionally wallows in emo navel-gazing, but for the most part, it's a well-paced one-shot story that even non-manga readers will love.

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