Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tandem Review: What a Wonderful World/ I'll Give It My All Tomorrow



 Books that take me on a journey are a passion of mine. Since I first discovered Manga I have been impressed with the sheer variety of material available. I chose these two manga to review together because they give the reader an insight to Japanese society,but also because at their heart they show us how similar our cultures are. All of us are human and thus are suspect to the myriad highs, lows , successes and failures that are part of the human condition.
Story & Art by Inio Asano
This first volume of an ongoing manga has 9 interconnected stories. I was a little confused at first by some of
the stories and the characters relationships,but overall this was a highly enjoyable read. The first story revolves around Toga, a 23 year old college dropout . She spends her days in a crummy apartment unsure of what direction to take in life. An evening spent with a college buddy and a terrible fire leave her with a new found sense of purpose for the future.
Another standout story is called A Town of Many Hills. It centers around a young girl who is the victim of intense bullying. She moves through her days seemingly oblivious to their torments. The only sign of her inner turmoil is her crow companion, Whether its her imagination or a true supernatural manifestation
the crow talks to her, encouraging her to express the despair she hides,encouraging her to die. A wonderful story about the decision to persevere and how it can only come from within ourselves.
My third favorite store in this volume is called Syrup. It's about a group of  students in cram school trying to pass entrance exams into various schools. A small group of them are consistently failing at their lessons including syrup, nicknamed due to his addiction to drinking cough syrup.
The boys move through an endless cycle of failure and guilt, worried about their futures and their careers yet unable to commit to their studies. This was such a bittersweet story. So much pressure to preform is the norm for the typical Japanese student. It takes a special sort of bravery to get off that track.
An amazing volume, I definitely will be following this series.
I'll Give It My All Tomorrow
Art & Story by Shunju Aono
In this series Shizuzo, a 40 year old business man quits his job and decides to "find " himself. This originally involves several months of lounging at home in his underwear playing Nintendo. His father Constantly badgers Shizuzo, telling him what a disappointment he is, and nagging him to do something with his life. His daughter Suzuko seems to serenely accept his decision though her feelings are nearly identical to her Grandfathers. While flipping through a magazine Shizuzo makes an epic decision: he will become a manga artist.
The rest of this volume is a series of funny yet often sad  trial and errors on Shizuzo's part. He ends up taking a job at a fast food restaurant to have some income while working towards his Manga goals. On the surface Shizuzo seem to be a loser but he also has a gentle innocence that effects those around him. It's interesting to see a character experience a midlife crisis in a different culture. Everyone seems against Shizuzo's dreams, even he often stands in his own way. Overall though the reader gets very involved in Shizuzo's life and wants him to succeed.
It's rare that I  read manga with contemporary themes but these two are definitely on my wish list. Thanks to Viz Media's contract with the nook,  both of these series are available on the nook color and nook tablet at the great price of $5.99 for World, and $4.99 for I'll give It My All.

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