From Publishers Weekly
Asano's beautifully drawn anthology follows up his Harvey and Eisner–nominated Solanin
with more short stories about sullen teenagers and 20-somethings. If anything, the short story format makes Asano's mopey protagonists far more sympathetic. Some of the characters are more likable than others; in two related shorts, appealing punk rocker Horita gives up his dreams of becoming a rock star to put on a suit and tie, only to recant later in the book. In A Town of Many Hills, a bullied teen believes a talking crow is a death god encouraging her to commit suicide. Like many of the book's protagonists, the girl overcomes her death wish, but hers is the most triumphant victory in the volume. Asano's artwork is very attractive, frequently interspersing all-black panels with the characters' inner thoughts in white text. His teens' navel-gazing thoughts are prone to platitudes, but much less so here than in Solanin
. What a Wonderful World!
is titled ironically, but its message to aimless and depressed young people is a positive one, told without preaching, and the artwork and strong storytelling make this another standout. (Oct.)
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An aimless young woman is forced to find focus. A bullied middle-school student changes her social status through a desperate act. A middle-aged manga artist tries to hold onto what family he has as his assistant lets love slip through his fingers. A high-school girl’s part-time job selling her body puts her in the path of an unusual thief. These stories and more make up the first volume of Asano’s two-part manga anthology. Each tale is loosely connected with the next, sometimes obviously, sometimes so subtly that the connection is only spotted in the images between chapters. Grades 10-12. --Snow Wildsmith