Taking a Slice: Solanin
Among all the action, adventure, magical girls and fan-service mangas out there, the genre of “slice-of-life” has really gotten hold of me as I drift deeper into adulthood. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my fan-service like any guy, but sometimes I just want something I really can connect to.
It was sometime after I graduated college and still stuck in limbo after graduating college. I’ve had a couple job interviews that didn’t go too well and kept me stuck at home thinking about my next move. Eventually, I took up a retail job just to make a little bit of money and something to keep me productive.
Late one night, an online friend of mine randomly linked me a manga that I had to read. I read it…in its entirety in one-sitting and one night. Granted, it was only 2 volumes long, but even a few years later, the story still sticks to me to this day. The manga was Solanin, illustrated and written by Inio Asano.
The story revolves around college sweethearts, Meiko Inoue and Naruo Taneda, who are now living together for two years after college graduation. They are stuck in a daze of what to really do with their lives at this point. Meiko takes up an office job and Taneda starts working as a part-time illustrator for a print company. They are getting by, but at some point it just doesn’t seem enough. Meiko ends up quitting her job at the office causing a change of events involving her and Taneda. She now embarks on a journey to find true happiness, and Taneda tries to relive his dream of becoming musician and actually writing music with his band…though they soon find out that the journey definitely has its hardships.
The first thing that pulled me in was the art, as with any manga I am introduced to. With a now heavily-populated manga community with design being geared to being cutesy or well polished, seeing a manga which broke from that norm intrigued me. The art style isn’t overly fancy, but modest, honest and charming. The content definitely does not pull any punches, so fair warning if you’re expecting a fairytale. Still, the overall manga has a good balance of all emotions you should feel reading a story.
For those who can’t sit and read for long duration there is good news and bad news. There isn’t an anime adaptation (not the bad news) but there is a live-movie version of Solanin that was released in 2010. The bad news is that it hasn’t been released in the US. The movie does follow the storyline of the manga pretty well, and stars Aoi Miyazaki as Meiko and Kengo Kora as Taneda. What is a big plus for me is that the music featured in the movie was produced by the massively popular, Asian Kung-Fu Generation, and that the lyrics are taken exactly from the manga itself.
The manga definitely helped me out during my time of self-evaluation. Still, does to this day. I ended up applying to more jobs, keeping myself busy with classes, trying to sign up for a job that would send me to Japan. Of course during those days I was met with disappointment. I didn’t get the job to teach in Japan and I was turned down for other job positions. Yet, going to class helped paved a path that leads me to writing at this very instance, and now I’ve gotten a contracting job with a great company for the past year.
This story definitely has its ups and downs, but it solely depends on the reader on how it is really interpreted. Just like life. What will you take from reading this?…That’s not me to tell, but for you to find out.