[Review] Solanin - Inio Asano

Title: Solanin
Volume: #1-#2
Mangaka: Inio Asano
Publisher: VIZ Media LLC
Publication year: 2008
Language: English
Pages: 424

Solanin is a drama/ slice of life manga about Meiko Inoue, a recent college graduates who works as an office lady. Her boyfriend, Naruo Taneda is a part-time illustrator. Because of money problem, the two decided to live together in an apartment. Meiko suddenly quits her job and encourages Naruo to follow his dream, which is to start a band. Then something happens to Naruo and that’s pretty much I can tell without spoiling anything.
Meiko has just graduated so she’s in a transitional period to be a part of real world. She’s a bit confused, not knowing what she wants to do. I think this manga portrays the life of young grad like Meiko so well. Her struggle to choose between following what people usually do and doing what she actually wants to do is relatable. Heck, I even feel that way now. So that’s a good point.
This manga is slow paced but it builds up nicely to reach the emotional moment. It’s a sad, almost depressing story. The artwork itself is simply beautiful. Though the character design is not my taste. I usually read shoujo manga where the characters have cute face and big eyes. Solanin’s characters don’t have that.
One thing that I’m curious about is the title of this manga. It’s actually the title of a song that Naruo wrote. It’s a unique word and there’s no explanation about the word in this manga. So I’m still curious about the meaning of the word Solanin. Before I talk more about the song, I want to tell you that this manga has actually been adapted into a movie starring Aoi Miyazaki as Meiko Inoue and Kengo Kora as Naruo Taneda. Aoi Miyazaki is a famous actress in Japan, mostly known for her role as Shizuru Satonaka in Heavenly Forest. The song itself was written and arranged by a Japanese rock band Asian Kung-fu Generation using lyrics from the manga. I actually discovered the manga from the song. I knew the song years before I knew that this manga and the movie exist. Asian Kung-fu Generation is one of my favorite bands. If you know Naruto and its infamous theme song Haruka Kanata, it’s their song. I’ve been listening to Solanin for years. Then I saw a Japanese movie titled ‘Solanin’ scheduled to air on TV. It’s a unique title for a movie. When I heard about it, my mind immediately thought about the song. So I browsed more information about the movie Solanin and found that the song is the soundtrack of the movie and that it’s adapted from a manga. That’s how I found this manga. I love the song. If you’re still in doubt to decide whether to pick this manga or not, please try to listen to the song and maybe read the lyric and its English translation. It’s easy to find in the internet. That way, you’ll get a glimpse on this manga.
In the end, I do think this manga is not for everyone. Some might find it boring, some might find it entertaining. If you like a drama/ slice of life type of manga with slow pacing, you’ll like this manga. For me, the theme of this manga feels personal and I like it.

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