Review: Solanin by Inio Asano

Friday, October 28, 2016

Synopsis:Meiko Inoue is a recent college grad working as an office lady in a job she hates. Her boyfriend Naruo is permanently crashing at her apartment because his job as a freelance illustrator doesn't pay enough for rent. And her parents in the country keep sending her boxes of veggies that just rot in her fridge. Straddling the line between her years as a student and the rest of her life, Meiko struggles with the feeling that she's just not cut out to be a part of the real world.

 My thoughts: Inio Asano is a very acclaimed author in the manga world, so he was in my radar for a long time. I read Nijigahara Holograph by him earlier this year and enjoyed it to some extent. I had my issues with it, but all in all, it was a solid horror manga.

 I went into Solanin expecting the same amount of criticism of human morale and human selfishness and I sort of did get what I expected, but also sort of didn’t. Solanin is very different than Nijigahara Holograph.

First, I would characterize this book as a slice of life story. The main characters’, Mieko and Naruo, ‘quarter-life crisis’ was in focus here, as well as their relation to the world they inhabit. Nothing is going the way Meiko and Naruo had dreamed of in their college days. The days are the same, and the characters keep going ‘round and ‘round in a non-stop cycle of work and responsibilities (or their futile trials of escape from responsibilities). Until, that is, Mieko gets a revelation and decides to quit her job, thus spiraling her and Naruo’s life towards a risky, but more exciting future. Things go wrong, though, because they are the people they are and the society is the same society – both things are inescapable.

 I like the story’s perspective on this ‘quarter-life crisis’ and I feel with the characters, which are on the threshold from childhood (or perhaps, innocence is a better word) towards adulthood. No one prepares you for what adulthood is, and you must find your own footing once you step over this threshold. The way the story was told and presented, though, was a tad heavy-handed. Some events in the story don’t make a whole lot of sense, and don’t get me started on the conclusions the characters draw throughout the book! There’s no rhyme or reason to many of the characters’ decisions – maybe it was the author’s intention, but if that’s the case, it isn’t done very well. Overall, it was an OK book, but I expected more.

Verdict: 3/5 stars. Read it if you like the synopsis – the book is good, but nothing that hasn’t been done before.

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