I’m a little late bringing this up, but my review for the Pokémon The Movie: White: Victini and Zekrom went up on the Fandom Post last week. This was adapted straight from one of the movies, which I think gives a clue as to its overall quality, but it was still an OK read. Check out my review to see exactly what I thought!
I have no idea what to do with myself. And while I wait for my epiphany, I feel the toxins collecting in my body.
I first encountered solanin by Inio Asano in one of those itty-bitty Animerica magazines crammed on the end of the anime aisle in Best Buy. The first few pages were given as a preview, and I was intrigued by the characters, so when the manga came out October 2008 I picked it up.
The release of this book was pretty timely. Earlier that year I had graduated from college (completely against my will, I might add). I had once imagined that upon graduation I would know exactly where I was going in my life, that there would be a plan, a path, something I could easily settle into and be happy with. Then the day came, and I discovered that the little piece of paper did not include a map for my life. I was on my own. I was totally screwed.
I found myself settling for a job that I did not like, that I did not want, but it was easy, and what else was I going to do? I knew I wanted to write, but how was that going to happen? I found myself getting sad a lot as I dug my rut deeper and deeper, the sides getting so high it was becoming increasingly difficult to pull myself out.
Meiko, the main character of solanin, finds herself in this rut, too. Recently graduated from college, she works in a boring office. Though she is technically an adult, she doesn’t seem to see herself that way, always referring to others as “adults” and “grownups” as if she isn’t part of that group. When she hits the end of her rope, she decides to just quit her job, and see where life takes her from there. This turns into a lot of her doing nothing, but she starts to ask other people the questions, “Are you happy?” “Are you satisfied with your life?” and finds out that no one really is, at least not all of the time.
I read solanin in one sitting. When I was done, I sat there, trying to sort out my reaction. The manga left me with a strange mix of feelings. First there was the good: solanin was a sort of revelation for me, that I was not the only one stuck in a rut, afraid to move, feeling slowly poisoned. I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t see herself as an adult, even though by all definitions I was. That horrible, disconnected, paralyzing feeling — I wasn’t alone in it.
solanin also made me feel horrible. Even though the manga made me feel relaxed knowing that other people feel this way, by the end it offers no real solution to figuring yourself out. As Meiko prepares to move out of her apartment and start a new job, a friend says to her, “Bet you won’t be able to stand it, and you’ll quit again.” Not only does she not deny it, she treats it as truth — she won’t be settled, she won’t have figured out what her happiness is.
But what upset me the most about this manga (there’s a spoiler in this paragraph, FYI) concerns Meiko’s boyfriend, Taneda. Meiko begins to push Taneda to take his band seriously again, and after being egged on he decides to go for broke — he’ll send a CD out to every record company and see if someone bites. If not, he’ll quit for good. It sounds inspiring… but in the end he fails, with the only company that responds asking them to give up their pride. After a disappearance, Taneda decides to go back to his old boring job, and back to living with Meiko. He tells himself he’s happy… until he realizes that he isn’t, and shoots on his bike past a red light into traffic. I understood Meiko’s disconnectedness, but I related the most with Taneda’s need to create his music, and his fear that if he tries to hard, he’ll only fail. I rooted him on, and when he literally crashes, well, that just made my chest tighten right up.
Isn’t it better to regret things you’ve done, than regret things you’ve never even tried?
I didn’t get any sort of epiphany from solanin. Instead it was more of an affinity — I didn’t just relate to these characters, I WAS these characters, trapped, confused, unsure of how to move forward. The best thing solanin did for me was point out that I wasn’t alone, that I wasn’t actually failing just because I didn’t know where my life was supposed to go from here. It also reminded me that even when your lost, you can’t just stand still: after Taneda’s death, Meiko ends her months of wallowing by picking up his guitar and deciding to join his old band. Music isn’t her dream, not like it was for Taneda, but it becomes something for her to do, to focus on. She finds a long sought-after connection, and even if it’s not necessarily moving forward, it’s still moving, which is better than sitting round letting the toxins collect. It may have filled me with an undefinable feeling (friends I lent it to didn’t fare much better, returning the book with an uncomfortable look on their faces) but I’m glad I read this manga at the time I did.
I’ve been slow to update on this, but here are a few recent reviews I’ve done around the ‘net.
First was Kurozakuro volume 3, up on The Fandom Post. In this volume we’re starting to get more answers about what is going on, but the story telling is also really weird and clunky at times. And it’s still disappointing that none of the old female characters have returned. Read the rest of what I thought here.
On Real Otaku Gamer reviewed the first volume of Blue Exorcist. This manga had a slow start, but the Shonen Jump story is action packed, and has nice background art and awesome character designs. But it’s a supernatural high school story, and I got sick of that idea fast, so I’m not sure if it’s something I’d carry through with. The whole review is here.
Also on Real Otaku Gamer, I wrote three quick reviews of ongoing Yen Press series: K-ON!, Spice and Wolf and My Girlfriend’s a Geek. Each of them have their flaws, but they’re fun in their own way. And I’m finding myself increasingly biased towards Spice & Wolf. Check out each of my thoughts here.
I’ve also gotten some other blog posts done. On Real Otaku Gamer I posted a news clip on Digital Manga Publishing’s eManga website, and yesterday I had my say on the character of Wakaba for this month’s Cross Game Manga Movable Feast.
I haven’t made this kind of post in a while, probably because I’ve been busy and my review writing has slowed down. But here are a couple that I’ve gotten up recently.
First is my review of Kurozakuro volume 2 over at the Fandom Post. (Chris Beveridge no longer works with Mania, instead writing on this website, and all of his reviewers followed him.) I haven’t read the first volume of this series, but this one was interesting. Monster designs are boring, though, and where the heck did all the female characters go?
The next review I wrote was for Real Otaku Gamer: Blue Exorcist volume 1. This supernatural manga has a fun but predictable story, but the real high point of it is Kazue Kato’s character designs and background art. I have some images up on the review if you want to check it out.
I’m just about finished with my review for Kurozakuro volume 3, and after that I’ll have a series of short reviews of mostly Yen Press material. After that, I’ll likely be reading the Arina Tanemura manga that’s been staring at me. (I mean, literally, the girl on the cover has huge eyes, they’re boring into me.)
I’m a bit late with posting this as well. One review and a new article made their way up on Suite 101 last week.
The first article came from a VIZ Media press release announcing the anime they’re streaming on Netflix instant. VIZ is a bit slow to the game, since FUNimation has already put up dozens of shows, but it’s still great that they’re starting. And it’s interesting, since these series are being streamed in Japanese, rather than the English dub.
I also put up a review for Oresama Teacher volume 1. It was an interesting shojo manga by Izumi Tsubaki, but I’m not sure I’m hooked enough to care what happens next.
Even with everything I’ve been working on this week for Lesley, I still managed to get three articles written for Suite 101, including a manga review! The first article came from a press release from VIZ Media about Saturn Apartments being placed on the YALSA’s top ten graphic novel list. (If you remember, I also reviewed Saturn Apartments and loved it.) The next article talked about Yen Press’s new manga iPad app.
This week’s review was a Yen Press title, Highschool of the Dead volume 1 by Daisuke Sato and Shouji Sato. It’s a pretty bland zombie apocalypse story, but interesting enough, and unique enough to manga that it might be worth looking into yourself. Check out the review to read everything I thought on it.
Also on Thursday, another Mania.com review went up: Papillon volume 5-6, an omnibus from Del Rey manga. I hadn’t gotten a review in to Mania in a long while, so I’m glad I didn’t get booted out of the website… I need to get a couple of reviews for Very, Very Sweet written for that as well.
My next review will likely be the graphic novel adaptation of Ayn Rand’s Anthem.
I’ll make a post about NaNoWriMo later today, but first I wanted to make sure I
plugged talked about the articles I wrote this week. The first one I got done was a review of Soul Eater volumes 1-4. The beginning of this manga gets off to a slow start and I thought i hated half the side characters, but the pacing picks up and the characters get more likable, for a really fun action shonen series. I also posted my review for the second volume of Kingyo Used Books. My first review was a bit more glowing, and I think that’s because I was just excited by the whole concept of the series, that reading manga is important and helps you figure out things about yourself. Check out the review to see what I think of the series now.
I also posted an article earlier this week about VIZ Media’s new manga iPad app. The pickings on the manga app are still pretty slim and it won’t send me out to the Apple store to get my own iPad, but it’s a step in the right direction, i think. I just want them to come out with one I can use on my computer, and maybe sell some out of print stuff I’ve been wanting to read.
One review went up on Mania.com this week, on the fourth volume of Hero Tales. It’s by Hiromu Arakawa, the same woman who wrote my favorite series, Fullmetal Alchemist, but it’s not proving as good. I’m just not feeling as emotionally involved in Hero Tales, and since it’s coming out so slowly I don’t think I’ll be super excited as each volume comes out. Not that I won’t buy it, of course.
Two other reviews went up on Suite 101, too. First I reviewed the first 3 volumes of Black Butler from Yen Press. It’s interesting, and I actually do get why people love this series so much, but I don’t think it’s for me. Yesterday I posted my review of Cross Game from VIZ Media. This is a really well done manga about playing baseball and growing up, and is definitely one of my new favorite series. VIZ printed the first 3 volumes in one, so I got to read the book in a big chunk, which was awesome.
Something neat I found out yesterday: Digital Manga Publishing is creating a “guild,” where they will be letting people translate, edit, and retouch manga to be distributed digitally. If this works, it sounds really fantastic. I’ve already applied to be an editor, so we’ll see if I get taken on. I heard the information from Daniella Orihuela-Gruber, who posted the information on her website All About Manga. She posted more information, and more potential questions about the Digital Manga Guild, in her blog post.
Don’t forget, if you like my writing, I also have a Facebook page! =D
My review of Hyde & Closer by Haro Aso went up on Suite 101 Friday. It was a fun shonen action series with n nice art, but really, it’s not for me. The main character isn’t really that likable, and the story’s pretty shallow. Hyde, however, is one bad ass teddy bear.
Working on my review for The 14th Dalai Lama. That should be up tomorrow afternoon.