I particularly like this panel from Solanin, it’s something random and commonplace in the manga — I don’t even remember from what chapter it came from. However, I think it represents my experience of the work. If I experience it from the eyes of clueless young adulthood, there is a myth of true adulthood and maturity — or at least it’s obscured from view. I can’t see what’s on top of the bridge.
If that bridge is what connects my youth to responsible adulthood, I don’t know what’s on it, who’s on it, and how fast they go. Instead I can see clearly the familiar world of my youth. I can still hang out in the old university haunts, where the most comfortable coffee shops are, where to best get cheap food, which part time jobs give the best pay for the least work. Places to survive, places to keep this life going, though it never really goes anywhere, does it? There are no real spoilers in this post.
I’m an adult. I’m 32 years old, but I still feel acutely the life that immediately followed graduation from university. It’s the time when one’s big dreams are introduced to the world where they’re supposed to become real. The comforting routines of university life still have a strong pull, yet one feels, expects things to start falling into place. I remember applying for my first job outside the university where I was a part time lecturer.
I wholly expected the manager to be blown away. I was an awesome student from a top tier university. He should be lucky to have the opportunity to have me (and my chest-length hair in a ponytail). I truly was rather put-off that I didn’t get the job (selling condominiums). To think that baldy manager would ask me to cut my hair! He can keep his crummy condominiums. I spit at the idea of selling something I couldn’t afford to get for myself. (Actually, I was pissed that I lost the opportunity to turn him down; ahhh the mistakes of youth).
Maybe I shouldn’t have quit teaching yet. But it’s too late. I’ve made my bed. This is how Solanin starts. Our protagonist Meiko quits her full-time OL job because he felt like it was headed nowhere. It ground and crushed her spirit, surviving the day to day life in Tokyo. The circumstances in my leaving the university are different, but I did feel this way when I did join corporate at some point. Having left her job, and having nothing to do with all her free time, Meiko discovers the emptiness and prison of freedom without a purpose.
I feel like her boyfriend, Taneda anticipated this when his band performed in their graduation concert. It was spectacular in its awkwardness. This isn’t Beck,vor Nana where young musicians are brimming with talent and it was just a matter of time when the world finds out about how awesome or appealing these musicians are. There is a power in the earnestness of the performance, despite the lack of talent. It could’ve been your band! It certainly felt like mine in a way.
When you’re going to fail, do it this way. Turn a disaster into GAR spectacle. Turn your immature, cop-out whining into a strong statement. When you fail to remember your lyrics, deliver a speech scored by ROCK.
Taneda’s spoken word freestyle/improv piece:
Are you ready? I’m going to say some heavy shit!
This is a time when planes crash into buildings, and was start a million miles away!
This is a me that feels disgusted that I slightly get excited about the whole thing!
We’ve got no light of hope in our future! Nothing is going to happen!
Our lives will be dull as rocks! Maybe it’s a life of boring happiness!
But I don’t want to be an adult who pretends to be satisfied with it!
Congrats for graduating into people, people!
But I… I… …I need more time.
Until I find an answer. Even if it’s dangerous, Even if it lasts untile the end of the Earth…
I need to walk my own path.
I imagine myself being in that concert, at 22 years old; and had this happened right in front of me, I would’ve been very moved. I feel like Solanin works best in the beginnings and ends of its two volumes. The middle can get confusing, in that it tempts me to think of it as an upbeat romantic comedy. It fills me with hope, in how these characters may actually becomse something big.
The endings, and especially the finale itself give me something very very familiar.
Not that very familiar in the experience of manga, but rather something very commonplace in life. An obscured view of what’s on top of the bridge, but a clear, detailed, and familiar view of the limited world beneath it.
WRL’s (informal) series of posts on cruel and painful works:
- Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: War in the Pocket
- Onani Master Kurosawa
- Honey and Clover
- Welcome to the NHK
Fuzakenna’s post series on personallyRL influential works (digitalboy 2009/08/16)