Review by: Faith McAdams
Publisher: VIZ Media
Author: Inio Asano
Genre: Graphic Novel (VIZ Signature)
MSRP: $12.99 US
Rating: T+ (Older Teen)
Release Date: Now Available
The world might not be perfect but it is still wonderful.
Inio Asano is no stranger to stories about life and how each character perceives it in their own unique way. Life can be absurd, unfair, seemingly devoid of joy but it can also be wonderful enough that people realize that it is too important to waste. In Volume 1 of What a Wonderful World!, we see life through the eyes of different characters as their lives interest with other characters in this nearly brilliant manga.
What a Wonderful World! Tells several connected stories or, as the manga calls them, tracks that don’t become one big story but rather these short stories intermingle just enough to be part of the same universe. Then again, some stories are related in a much bigger way such as the story of a young female rocker who feels like she’s the mother to all the boys in her band instead of just part of the group. Even the fellow musician named Horita who she likes being with doesn’t treat her like one of the group … until she comes back to her apartment or what is left of it.
Meanwhile, Horita isn’t exactly living out his rock star dreams seeing as he joined the workforce and seeing as this story takes place after his conversation with his female rocker friend we can see that it is finally eating away at him that his friends have become popular enough that the band is featured in billboards around the city. As Horita contemplates what to do with his life now, his girlfriend, a teacher, talks one of her students into finding out what happened to the quiet boy in class. It seems that on top of being seen as a gifted student, this boy is also a bully who preyed on the quiet boy. What the bully discovers about himself makes him come to a sudden and interesting realization.
In another story, there’s another student being bullied and this time it’s a young girl who finds herself beyond caring about what happens to her. A crow begins to talk to the girl, telling her that the only option might be a very drastic one but instead the girl opts for another option that changes her life. As fate would have it, though, we follow another girl who is taken captive by an armed man in a teddy bear outfit. As her captor finds out, this girl has major problems of her own
A manga-ka visits his daughter in another vignette as his assistant breaks up with his girlfriend who is moving on without him but just can’t stop thinking about him and as she tells her young sister that she’s Ok with moving on. Little sister wants to move on too but the interesting part of her story is her young friend who has failed the college entrance exam … yet again.
The ronin, as they’re called, make up of the young man and his friend who dreams of being a photographer. One day, the pair meet a young man who they call Syrup because of his need to chug down cough syrup. Their new friend Syrup has a dream too that, obviously, is quite impossible until one day Syrup dances in the middle of traffic and – for a brief moment – makes his dream come true.
Asano excels in touching on human nature and the more absurd the situation the more interesting it is watching the characters try (or, in same cases, not try) to make sense of it. Somehow, What a Wonderful World! lacks the charm that Solanin displays. Still, this series isn’t without its humorous moments or moments that make you feel the character’s angst, fears, wonder or confusion.
Volume 1 of What a Wonderful World! is a lesson in life and the people to make up the world around them. One doesn’t even have to be Japanese to understand the way these characters feel because feelings are universal. While the series doesn’t capture the brilliance of Asano’s past offerings, it tells a very human story that is worth reading.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
In an interesting series of intertwining vignettes we find a young student realizing the importance of life while in another a young failure and learn a powerful lesson in having a dream in life. Meanwhile, a kidnapper learns the truth about a High school girl and a class bully makes a discovery about himself.
Asano’s visual style is just as compelling as his words and the expressions say far more than a single dialogue balloon. It’s wonderfully original artwork, indeed.
Inio Asano is one of the best things to happen to manga since Naoki Urasawa or even Fumi Yoshinaga and Volume 1 of What a Wonderful World! is proof of that. While it’s not as brilliant as Asano’s other work, this graphic novel is still something of a work of art that really shouldn’t be missed.
Review copy provided by VIZ Media