Meiko lives a pretty normal life- she’s got a steady boyfriend and a regular job as an office lady, but she can’t help feeling that there should be something more to it than that. Determined to recapture the dreams and ambitions she had whilst growing up, Meiko decides to quit her job and look for a new, more fulfilling path, but will she be able to find it- and what repercussions will her drastic move have on her relationship with boyfriend Taneda?

When I was first introduced to Solanin, I was told it could possibly be the new Honey and Clover- high standards to have in mind before even reading it. In fact, in some ways, it can be thought of as just that- if H&C was about the transition from college life to the real world, then Solanin covers what happens next in terms of settling on a career path without giving up one’s dreams. At the same time, however, the series has an identity all its own.

Despite starting off as Meiko’s search for something meaningful to devote herself to, Solanin doesn’t sit on its laurels, with the first volume also focusing on supporting characters and ultimately Taneda’s own wish to pursue his dream of playing in a band. Just when you think you have the series figured out, however, an unexpected twist halfway through turns everything on its head; obviously revealing it here would defeat the object of trying to encourage people to read the series, but suffice to say that it provides a turning point for Meiko and those closest to her to put an effort into thinking about what they want from life instead of letting each day drift by.

Two volume series rarely have time for much in the way of extensive character development, but nonetheless Solanin does its best on this front, bringing both Meiko and Taneda to life whilst leaving a little time over for the various supporting characters. Unfortunately, the series might have done better to keep all the minor characters firmly in the background- for example, the chapters about a friend who works at a flower shop seem unmemorable and out of place in the context of the main story.

Visually, Solanin showcases quite an accomplished style; overall the artwork is detailed and technically competent without being cluttered, however, the character designs don’t particularly appeal on a personal level- there are just a few too many large lips and widely spaced eyes for my tastes.

Final Thoughts
It may not quite be worthy of being called the next Honey and Clover, but Solanin is certainly a series that anyone interested in drama, slice-of-life and a more grown up sort of coming-of-age tale should add to their reading list. And at only two volumes in length, it shouldn’t be hard to make space for in your reading list.

Essential facts
Volumes: 2 [complete]
Creator: Asano Inio

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