Monday, October 19, 2009

Manga Monday: What a Wonderful World!

What a Wonderful World! (Volume 1)
Inio Asano
I really enjoyed Solanin, an earlier work by riveting creator Inio Asano, released by Viz last year. What a Wonderful World!, also by Viz, showcases Asano's talents in a group of short stories that are loosely connected by characters or location or even by a dragonfly flying from one character's nose to another. All of the characters in this book are also going through tough times, whether they're looking to get out of an aimless existence, are being bullied, or are being sought by the mob. The characters are mostly pretty desperate too. The highlights of stories include "Quick Like a Bunny," where a college drop-out hopes to recapture happier times by returning to a club, only to find that it's closed, and that while she'd inspired people to slough off conformity while among them, without her, her friends have moved on, leaving her behind. In "A Town of Many Hills," a little girl confronts her bullys' ritual of picking a class king, that of riding down steep hills without stopping, while contemplating suicide, which walks alongside her personified by a crow. "Syrup" sees a group of students retaking college entrance exams reevaluate their unlikely dreams. And "The Bear From the Forest" has a girl willingly taken hostage to help out a desperate man in a bear suit. While Asano has a way of keeping readers entranced with his beautiful soft pencils, I can't say that I really enjoyed living in this world alongside his characters. What a Wonderful World! is full of introspective characters, and interesting characters at that, with intriguing thoughts and ways of looking at things, but it was ultimately a really depressing book. Sure, there are a few rays of hope in the stories here and there, but I can't say that I want to read anymore of these types of stories - I think I overdosed on ennui and suicidal characters from this single volume. I definitely preferred Solanin.


NB said...

Inio Asano is a male, although I can see why someone would mistake his stories for being from a female. He himself was heavily influenced by female manga artists like Naito Yamada, Kyoko Okazaki and Q-ta Minami.

Dave Ferraro said...

Thanks for the insight - I made the correction in the post.

KPHM42 said...

I just read this myself. It really is incredible. Started reading volume two this afternoon.