Asano’s manga “Solanin” offers relatable insight into uncertainty

By Tomas Palmieri

All young adults are eventually forced to confront the question of what they want to spend their life doing. Many respond to this question with a type of uncertainty, but is that necessarily wrong? Inio Asano’s “Solanin” weaves a beautifully realistic story based around the idea of taking that fearless leap from the safe rigid lifestyle you thought you enjoyed in order to pursue the more uncertain path that could lead to what you really wished for.

The story of “Solanin” follows a recent college graduate named Meiko, working in a well-paying office job, and her boyfriend Taneda, a member of a struggling band permanently living with her due to his low source of income not providing enough money for rent. Meiko finds herself bored by her standard “office-lady” job due to the lack of connection she feels to her coworkers and the job itself, so she quits. This launches the manga through a story of complicated decisions and events that the two tackle together, all while trying to keep paying the rent for their small home.

The characters presented in “Solanin” aren’t some special protagonists who are ready to tackle the problems of the world, they are normal college graduates in their twenties trying to find their places in the world. The characters are so normal that as you read through the manga you feel as if the next time you are walking down the street, you could pass them without even knowing. This allows the true relatability of the characters to shine through their honest dialogue and struggle with entering adulthood.

The relatability of the characters isn’t the only charming part of “Solanin.” Asano’s art style is distinctive and unique, which allows him to do a remarkable job conveying the emotions of the characters through the drawings on each panel.

“Solanin” is meant to invoke all kinds of emotions as you flip through the pages of the manga. At one moment you find the humor of the characters causing you to helplessly smile, while 30 pages later, you can find yourself on the verge of tears. This story melds comedy and drama in a way that keeps you reading until the very end of the roller coaster of emotions it offers.

While the “uncertain future” trope is an extremely common theme in media, ”Solanin” uses common situations and emotions within the characters to grab hold of readers that have felt that same uncertainty in their lives. This allows for the manga to promote optimism in the time of these uncertainties and the idea that you are the leader of your own life.

Overall, “Solanin” offers something for everyone, even if they haven’t read manga before. Due to Solanin only being a graphic novel of 432 pages that uses relatively simple themes, it’s very friendly to people who haven’t read manga before.  

This manga can let you relive your memories of youth if you are reading it as an adult, or give you insight into the uncertainty and other emotions when becoming adults if you are a teenager or especially a young adult. 

“Solanin” is a must-read for this teenage-adult age group.