The cover of Inio Asano’s new manga, Solanin, caught my eye—this band-aid faced, toque wearing, worried looking girl. What’s her deal?
Solanin follows Meiko, a young Tokyo woman who feels like she might not be making the most of her life. Meiko takes a look at her savings account and realises she can survive for a few months without an income. She quits her boring office job without any real plans, just the excitement of knowing she won’t have to work every day.
Meanwhile, her boyfriend Taneda is getting his old band, Ratti, back together, and thinking about quitting his day job too. They live like this for a while—Taneda writing new songs, and recording a demo, and Meiko spending her days in that bored/blissful state of unemployment, mostly playing video games and meeting friends for coffee.
And then, (spoiler alert!) I’m going to tell you what happens because I feel like this is where Solanin gets good.
Taneda dies. And Meiko decides that the best way to honour Taneda is for her to take his place in his band, and play his songs. Although she’s never played guitar or sang before, Meiko becomes Ratti’s new front-woman.
I like that it’s not immediately easy for Meiko to play music. It’s not like the power of her love for Taneda magically makes her play really well.
I feel like most fictional depictions of bands are pretty brutal (“Our first show! And all the record company big-wigs are in the audience! Now I’m gonna rock out on my $6000 guitar that doesn’t seem to be plugged into anything!”). And while Solanin has a few of those moments, it also shows Rotti having grueling band practices, Meiko learning how gear works properly, and the excitement of just playing a song through.
And the epic first show? Opening for another local band who are getting sort of big. These are the low standards people familiar with indie music can relate to.
But that doesn’t make it any less exciting.