Asano Inio brings us the tale of Meiko Inoue and her boyfriend Taneda; they are a young couple with no goals or any idea what the hell they are doing with their lives. After making the risky decision to quit her boring office job to join Taneda’s band the group deals with the struggles of their daily lives, the music industry and actually writing songs. But when an unexpected tragedy occurs, Meiko will have to once again question herself and face an unexpected future. Will she face this future head on with her band mates by her side? Or will she recoil to return to the comfortable but unsatisfying life she lead before?
Being one of the best manga artists of our generation, Asano Inio has always been unconventional – to say the least- which is exactly what makes him so appealing. Solanin is a slice of life manga that stands out in more ways than one. Instead of being one of those fluffy tales that puts the main character through hell only to give them the happy ending they seemingly deserve, Solanin speaks violent truths to how life actually is when you’re young and chasing a pipe dream like music, if you’re searching for a new coming of age story this is it.
With Inio already being one of my favorite authors of all time, it was no surprise that I loved this book instantly but it became apparent to me almost right away there was something different about this compared to his other works. From the style of the art to the characters themselves, the further I read the less this story was a story and morphed more into something like a memento, an anchor to bring the author back to a specific time in his life. Oddly enough I also felt this aching nostalgia. Now, I’ve never successfully played an instrument in my life nor had more than three friends at one time, yet I felt a constant lump in my throat towards the end of the book; as if it scared me how much I could connect with it. I could easily see myself in each of the characters shoes despite the contrasting personalities.
It’s one of those timeless stories that everyone off all ages can resonate with. At some point we all find ourselves chasing a dream of some sort, don’t we? Regardless of how it big or small it is, it means the absolute world to you and sometimes life gets in the way, every now and then you even have to make difficult choices and for many of us that includes giving up that important dream. Asano Inio’s Solanin reminds us that life can be harsh but it’s okay; it’s part of that thing called being human.
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