Last book in the series
College graduates struggle to cope with the real world. Music offers refuge in this modern manga with an American attitude. Meiko Inoue is a recent college grad working as an office lady in a job she hates. Her boyfriend Shigeo is permanently crashing … see full wiki
Pros: Artwork, characters, sense of nostalgia, no fan-service, sense of renewal makes for a great conclusion.
Cons: Slow pace, some may find it bleak, somewhat awkward translation of the title song.
Review: Not many manga titles make you really think about your life, about where you are, as well as where you've been and where you want to be. This is the basic premise of Solanin, the acclaimed one-volume manga by Inio Asano. The graphic novel follows Meiko Inoue and her four friends, all of whom have recently graduated from the same college and are unsure of what they want in life. Meiko in particular does not feel that she is “cut out to be a part of the real world”. Meiko’s three male friends are all members of a band that is struggling to be noticed, and so they all find solace in music. Despite how it sounds, the manga does not revolve solely around aspiring musical artists. It also explores love, loss, aspirations, motivations, and the extreme ennui that accompanies a dead-end job. Solanin has its fair share of angst, but it is all completely realistic, and each character has his or her own problems to deal with. There’s a character for everyone to relate to. Solanin never becomes so angst-ridden as to be depressing; even when the plot takes a tragic turn, the feelings that the characters experience after this event inspire them to make changes to their lives.
The animation and character designs is/are very unique, and very modern. You won't find any of the typical “beautiful boys and girls” that litter most other manga titles these days; all of the main characters look like your average-twenty-somethings, which makes them much more relatable. What's more, the characters' appearances and hair-lengths change over time, and they are seen wearing several different outfits throughout the manga. A few of the pages are also in color. The author clearly took no shortcuts in his illustrations.
The manga’s only real fault is it pacing, and even that is depending upon the reader. There comes a point in the manga when Meiko struggles to entertain herself at home for a period of several days after quitting her job, but after this brief segment, a plot begins to surface, and the characters make the decision to exert more control over the directions of their lives.
Solanin is one of the best graphic novels that I have read in quite a long time. Those that have already passed this stage in their life will feel a sense of nostalgia, while those that are currently battling with these feelings will, hopefully, find a sense of comfort. Younger readers may not be able to appreciate the themes that Solanin presents until further in their lives.
After one last night of thrills, the characters make the decision to move on with their lives, taking all that they have learned about themselves and applying it toward their futures. The immense growth that each character experiences makes for one of the most satisfying conclusions that I’ve experienced, in text, film, or otherwise.
I would recommend this to older people who have forgotten what it was they used to love about the graphic novel medium.
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