Adam Stephanides reviews Solanin by Inio Asano

Posted by on January 15th, 2010 at 9:00 AM

Viz Media; 432 pp., $17.99; B&W, Softcover; ISBN: 9781421523217

Meiko, a recent college graduate, is stuck in a boring job she hates, but doesn’t know what else to do with her life. Taneda, her boyfriend, has given up on his college dreams of being a professional musician, but can only find a part-time job, and is living with Meiko because he can’t afford his own apartment. At the end of the first chapter, Meiko quits her job, but without having any alternative in mind, forcing both her and Taneda to think seriously about their futures.

Not much happens in Solanin so its interest depends primarily upon its characters. Asano’s dialogue is realistic, and his characters are believable. But believable is not the same as interesting. Nothing distinguishes Meiko and Taneda from the millions of other young adults in similar situations. Meiko’s internal reflections on her situation are given at length, but these rarely rise above the banal. Halfway through, a melodramatic event causes the book to abruptly shift direction, and its second half is about coping with loss. Things pick up here, but not enough: The accomplishment that forms the climax of the book is too slight to bear the symbolic weight Asano places upon it. Asano’s art is very good, particularly his command of facial expressions, but this is not enough to outweigh the story’s weaknesses.

©2006 Inio Asano/Shogakukan Inc.

Before Viz published Solanin, Asano was best known among manga enthusiasts for the manga Nijigahara Holograph (unpublished in the U.S.) and What a Wonderful World. Both of these are far superior to Solanin.

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2 Responses to “Adam Stephanides reviews Solanin by Inio Asano”

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  2. […] Magi (i heart manga) Julie on vol. 7 of Shaman Warrior (Manga Maniac Cafe) Adam Stephanides on Solanin (The Comics Journal) Rob on Solfege (Panel Patter) Rob on vol. 6 of Tarot Cafe (Panel Patter) […]