Actually, ‘solanin’ is really good and you should get it.

solanin.jpgJust gotta take a second to disagree with Jog on his review (link) of the new Viz release solanin, by Isio Asano. It’s a well-written review, but it comes to conclusions between 90 and 180 degrees from my own. Admittedly, your patience for stories about young people that don’t know what they want to do with their lives is ultimately the deciding factor in whether or not you might enjoy this one. But… yeah, I loved it. solanin is like Scott Pilgrim but without the video game realism, and twice as much of the drama.

I spent a few hours reading it and enjoyed the reading experience… It sort of lilts along, inviting you to spend time with its myriad of characters and get to know them. In fact, you spend a lot of time in their heads, and again, if you’re alright with people with problems, or if you particularly relate to being 23 or 24 and a bit aimless, it’s a pleasant place to hang out. That sense of security with the characters pays off as well, about half way through the book in a big way, making for a genuninely jarring, surprising turn. Speaking of, solanin enough hooks and twists to keep you flipping the pages right to the end. The art is really lovely too, with a solid and subtle range of expression and body language from all of the characters, and a pleasing and attractive surface sheen. Where Jog was disappointed because he’d read scanlations of later, more accomplished work from Asano and found this one lacking in comparisson, this is my first exposure to his work and I found it ambitious and largely successful.

But, the little stuff like attributing narration appearing on solid black panels to a need to crank out pages every week versus, I dunno, artistic license, I don’t buy it. Jog argues his position well, sets up a strong thesis at the outset of his review and hammers it all home at the end, but in the end I just came to a completely different conclusion. It’s a really solid graphic novel, that I think will particularly speak its target audience of 18-34 year olds… I certainly dig it.

– Christopher

Update: David Welsh weighs in with a review of solanin (link) at The Comics Reporter, and he talks about a bunch of the stuff I liked. Go read.

13 Replies to “Actually, ‘solanin’ is really good and you should get it.”

  1. Well… you know where I stand on SOLANIN. Having read some of Asano’s other works, which are indeed accomplished, and perhaps more conceptually and intellectually challenging, I definitely feel like SOLANIN had more genuine passion… being his first published manga work and coming from a very personal place, I definitely have more of an emotional attachment to this work than his others, though he’s pretty masterful at all times.

    I think that thing that impresses me more about his actual art is his use of special effects like soft focus and certain lighting effects, which add a great amount of depth and reality to the world his expressive character art inhabits, and the fairly unprecedented level of detail in his layouts… you don’t see many manga that have a background drawing in almost every panel.

  2. Hmmm, I’m pretty sure solanin wasn’t his first published work, though… It’s a Wonderful World! started up about two years prior, at least, and I think he fit in another project (Hikari no machi) after that… I wasn’t going totally off liking his later work more, it’s that even some of his earlier work had a more interesting feel…

    I should also clarify that I don’t think a technique used in the interests of speed can’t be effective or strong or altogether fitting… I was only commenting there that the technique seemed like something that’d shave some time off, although that aspect alone wouldn’t really hurt my reading or anything…

  3. any comic that has jog and c butcher disagree about it is more interesting to me to look into then a comic that had universal acclaim. can’t wait to check it out.

  4. Hey, am I the only one dumbfounded by the fact that 20TH CENTURY BOYS and PLUTO are going to cost 13 bucks, that is, 3 more than Monster??? What gives? Not that I’ll change my plans of buying them, but Jesus fuck!

  5. Off-Topic Man: Yeah, it’s just you.

    Seriously though, 20cb and Pluto are going to show up in the new format, larger size with french flaps. It’s a little bit more for a stronger format, and a little bit more for higher quality material that will sell fewer copies, and a little bit more because they were likely quite expensive to license.

    – Chris

  6. For me, $12.99 isn’t asking much, as I’m quite happy with how REAL looks and feels as I’m reading it. If that’s the format you’re talking about, it’s pretty close to how they printed the PLUTO special editions in Japan, which is FUCKING SWEET.

  7. Hey, whatever gets Pluto and 20CB published in the US, I’ll pay it. There are plenty of American comics priced more than that that aren’t worth the price.

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