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 as we know it and the people that fill it.
In the first volume of What a Wonderful World!, Inio Asano paints a picture of the world seen through the yes of several different characters that perceive their surroundings differently. The world really is strange yet beautiful and in Volume 2 of this series we finds out just how strange and beautiful it is as lives once again interconnect in this very human story.
Chaining these events together like in the first volume, Volume 2 finds the series looking into different characters as well as a few introduced in the first volume. It is in this volume that we meet a gifted yet bored boy who – at his young age – already finds himself in cram school because he elite father wants the boy to be just like him. The problem is that the boy doesn’t want to be like his physician father and spends cram school drawing pictures while a girl just like him makes origami. Sometimes a kid just wants to be a kid.
Meanwhile, the nurse at the hospital where the boy’s father works lives with her brother and a sister who – without saying a word – simply disappears every year when the rain begins to fall. The young woman drifts towards an old boyfriend at a club and spends a few nights with him until the rain stops completely. There’s a reason she does this, of course, and it becomes obvious rather quickly.
In another part of the city, an unpopular grade school girl finds herself despising another girl who just so happens to be quite popular despite flashing a fake smile and reeking of desperation. There’s a connection between these two girls that makes the unpopular one long for the days when they were not only equals but something else altogether. The popular one does make a revelation to two adults in the next story and these two adults are journalists working for a smutty magazine. One of them has a wife and daughter and finds himself growing distant and cold towards them. When his editor leaves the next issue to him, he takes on the responsibility until he is assaulted by a group of thugs. It is then that he realizes a powerful lesson has been taught.
In the next story, a man with a knife confronts the owner of a neighborhood noodle stand but it’s not the type of confrontation one might think. You see, the man with the knife is actually the owner of a ramen stand that other characters in the series stop for a bowl. The two men share a something that pushed these them apart so many long years ago. Meanwhile, an older woman dating a younger man has often turned to booze but one date changes her mind about drinking.
Moving on, the series turns its attention on the lone man who is often seen sweeping the sidewalk outside the convenience store where he works. The young man thinks about the girlfriend he no longer sees until one day he runs into her at the station and follows her like a little puppy to the point that the woman finds it too creepy. After that, his life seems to take a downward spiral.
Lastly, we find the story shifting back to Horita from the first volume who had once had the dream of being a rock star and is now unemployed. His girlfriend is not only on his case but she hits him and this is what sends him outside where he not only meets his fate but also a Shinigami (or Death God). I won’t spoil what happens but this story is actually deep and rather touching as one of the Shinigami makes a point about humanity and the world in general.
In the second and final volume of What a Wonderful World!, another sequence of events makes us stop and reflect on the world and how different people see it. This series could have been a lot better considering the talent behind it but overall What a Wonderful World! is the kind of work that is still the type of two-volume manga series that deserves the attention of those who have been looking for manga that comes close to brilliance.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
In the final collection of tracks, a young girl escapes her house as she does every year when it rains and in another story a boy doesn’t want to be like his father who so badly wants his only son to be elite like him. In yet another, a girl longs for the day when her fellow classmate was not as popular as she is now and in another story we find a reoccurring character meet his fate … sort of.
Once again, Inio Asano’s art is visually emotive and richly detailed in ways that even the smallest facial expression or gesture says a lot.
While not quite groundbreaking, Volume 2 of What a Wonderful World! remains just as profound and intriguing as the first part of this two-volume series. The vignettes in this volume are slightly more meaningful in a series of stories that deal with life, love and death. A Must Buy if you liked the first volume.
Review copy provided by VIZ Media