Review: Solanin by Asano Inio


I don't use the word "heartache" lightly. It could be a case of my finding this manga at precisely the correct time for it to have the maximum impact on me, but it actually hurt to read and at the same time, I couldn't put it down. My heart ached. This is not an emotion I feel very often. It's a simple story; I would argue that it is a brutally simple story. But in telling it, Asano reveals that he is a human being who has lived, which is art in its purest form.

Speaking of the visuals, Asano's style works very well with this material. There is a humor and a cartoonish exaggeration there, but at the same time the faces are surprisingly lifelike. I suspect he is heavily referencing photos of actual people. He also mixes in real photography. He's not the only mangaka I've seen play with this, but the effect here is intentionally jarring. It adds a lot to the feel of a scene.

Despite my glowing review, I don't know if other people will get out of this what I got out of it. The characters' experiences are not universally applicable. The target audience is definitely artistic types who are entering into working-adulthood and realizing that they are not likely to make a living doing what they love. If you are a reader of some years who has gone through that experience, I suspect you may appreciate this. If you are younger, or if you never had that particular problem it may seem like a lot of fuss over nothing.

Either way I loved it and I will probably never read it again.

This is a cross-post from my Goodreads.


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