web stats

CSBG Archive

Manga Before Flowers — Recommendation Post #3

Today I offer personalized recommendations for Dan Felty who gave me three key words:  “Thoughtful.  Existential.  Humorous.”

Am I up to the challenge?

1.  Solanin, by Inio Asano, published by Viz.


Description: Meiko Inoue is a recent college grad working as an office lady in a job she hates. Her boyfriend Naruo is permanently crashing at her apartment because his job as a freelance illustrator doesn’t pay enough for rent. And her parents in the country keep sending her boxes of veggies that just rot in her fridge. Straddling the line between her years as a student and the rest of her life, Meiko struggles with the feeling that she’s just not cut out to be a part of the real world.

2.  Astral Project, by marginal and Syuji Takeya, published by CMX.

astral project

Description: A modern tale of the supernatural by the author of the Eisner Award-winning Old Boy. (“marginal” is one of several aliases by creator Garon Tsuchiya.) Masahiko is estranged from his family and lives a dead-end life in Tokyo, working as a chauffeur for high-class call girls. When his sister dies under mysterious circumstances, he inherits an unlabeled CD from her possessions. Listening to the jazz music it contains, he is propelled into an out-of-body experience. As he repeats the experience, he begins to wonder if this was how his sister died. Masahiko is determined to find the cause of her death, and the mystery behind the CD.

3.  Children of the Sea, by Daisuke Igarashi, published by Viz.

Children of the sea

Description: When Ruka was younger, she saw a ghost in the water at the aquarium where her dad works. Now she feels drawn toward the aquarium and the two mysterious boys she meets there, Umi and Sora. They were raised by dugongs and hear the same strange calls from the sea as she does.

Ruka’s dad and the other adults who work at the aquarium are only distantly aware of what the children are experiencing as they get caught up in the mystery of the worldwide disappearance of the oceans’ fish.


I’m impressed with your ability to make good picks! I think I’d have been kind of stumped, but you came up with three that admirably fit the bill!

Ohh. very kind praise! There are few requests coming up that are going to be very challenging, let me tell you (particularly the one that has multiple paragraphs explaining how the requester feel about Negima, a title I really dislike).

Solanin was the only title I could think of that fit this title. What a Wonderful World was a close fit, but not quite on the humorous side.

“…title that fit the requirements.” :P My bad.

Good picks. I like all of the titles, love solanin, but I’m only halfway through Astral Project. I think What A Wonderful World! is also a good and similar title.

[…] Leigh has more personalized recommendations in her latest Manga Before Flowers […]

I’m gonna have to check out Solanin and Astral Project. Those both look pretty neat.

Your description of Astral Project kind of hints that it might have kind of a Haruki Murakami-esque feeling to it…

Tekende — oh just a quick note, I’m being lazy and stealing descriptions from the publisher. Maybe I should note that….(but I have read all these books and they are all kinds of awesome!)

I loved Solanin and the two What a Wonderful World collections. I hope Viz brings more of his work to us (if there are any).

I remember seeing the ads for Children of the Sea and I like that its a part of their Signature line. That’s usually a sign of their better (or at least more mature) titles. Can you give some more of your feelings about this title? What about it do you like?

hi JimYung…I’ll just be lazy and link to my review of the title:


It really is a lovely title and it offers beauty and a real sense of mystery and that combination is rather rare in manga.

Oohhh, I don’t like Negima, either. Perhaps you should ask Ed Sizemore for help there; he’s a fan of Akamatsu, I believe.

Thanks, Danielle! I will check out all these titles!

Solanin sounds like a real winner–a very grounded concept in contrast to the other two.

I checked out your Children of the Sea review, which was very helpful–you should definitely be sure to include a link when you recommend a title you review

Is the art on these covers representative of the work within the books?

It’s funny you say “grounded” when one of your key words was “existential.” heh.

Children of the Sea — amazing, amazing art. Cover doesn’t do the title justice although that kind of awkwardness is part of the art style as well. Astral Project — covers a little more ethereal than the art inside. Solanin in a very down to earth style.

hope that helps!

That helps!

I think “grounded” and “existential” are part and parcel. It’s “how” I live my life and “why” I live my life.

@Danielle – Oh no, I was one of the two people who mentioned Negima (!) – I almost feel ashamed now. hopefully I mentioned enough other stuff to give you a good sense. In any case, Solanin looks like something I’d love too. I’m really enjoying this feature.

Dane — heh. No need to feel ashamed! Negima and I just don’t match up well (I’ll still try my best to get those people good recs for stuff *they* might like).

I’m also glad you showed up so I could tell you Solanin is a “done in one” and Astral Project is also completely released!

@Danielle – Awesome! Solanin is going on my Christmas list and I’ll hope my woeful library system has Astral Project (I don’t know what it is with Southern California and their sad excuse for libraries).

Also, I’d ask why you don’t like Negima, but there are too many possible, obvious reasons. I actually like it in spite of all the reasons I don’t like it (and it totally had to grow on me). I essentially read it wholly for the relationship between Negi and Asuna and the gradually uncovering mystery of their two family’s pasts. Along the way, I’m happy that his other characters have gradually evolved from cardboard stereotypes into at least more well-rounded two-dimensional characters. And, as I said, I love the crispness of the art and the confidence of his line (when he’s not drawing juniour highers to look like swimsuit models).

Hi Dane — well, after two volumes there was no reason to continue to read something that just didn’t appeal to me. There are so many manga titles out there, I really owe it to myself to spend time on the ones that I like (or at least like a *little*).

when he’s not drawing juniour highers to look like swimsuit models.

Yes. There it is.

I’m totally with you, Danielle. That’s why I have a ton of first volumes of a lot of series. They just didn’t grab me.

Negima doesn’t begin picking up until maybe volume 4 or 5 and doesn’t start becoming really interesting until around volume 10. And even then, it might not appeal to you. (I’m not even sure how we got persuaded to give it a try beyond the first three volumes, but we did and are enjoying it.) It helps that as the series moves on, Akamatsu seems less interested in fan service (though it does also seem like he’ll occasionally remember and do one of those lame Huge Public Bath Where Everyone Compares Boob Sizes chapters while my wife and I shake our heads and sigh, and our embarrassment for reading the thing is given new life).

So yeah, don’t feel you have to recommend anything remotely like Negima to me. Heck, just reading all your recommendations to these other people, my want list is already growing more than my paycheck can justify :)

Hey, I don’t know if you read comments on old posts Danielle, but if you do this may gratify you. I asked for both Solanin and What a Wonderful World for Christmas and received both. (Well, only the first volume of WaWW.)

I read them both during airline adventures while traveling for the holidays and found them both delightful. Inio Asano’s* artistic sense is incredible. There will be a string of well-drafted, but mundane panels and pages and then the reader will be walloped with just a fantastic large-panel or two-page spread that just knocks socks off. I was especially struck by the bicycle race with the crow in WaWW and the tire marks in the street in Solanin.

And both books had me completely interested. I was *very* annoyed at the lady on my flight to Minneapolis who wouldn’t stop talking so I could finish the last three pages of Solanin. (I ended up standing in a bathroom stall to finish the book in peace before heading on to baggage claim…).

*note: I’m curious about naming conventions. I realize that in Japan, the family name comes first (in reverse of the Western trend), but with my lack of familiarity with which names are family names and which are given names, different publisher trends can be quite baffling. You list the author as Inio Asano but the Viz cover lists Asano Inio—so are you Westernizing or is Viz? And also, as I’m unfamiliar with Japanese names and their sexing, I haven’t the foggiest idea whether Inio Asano is male or female. It’d be nice to know simply so I could say “he” or “she” in conversation rather than use “the author”—as I have been doing.

Astral project looks promising. I might check that out.

Leave a Comment



Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives