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What a Wonderful World!, Vol. 1 Paperback – October 20, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
The stories in this first volume are varied, yet all interact in some format. The same picture might be seen by two different people in different places. A location frequented by one character may be visited by another. Very few of the characters actually meet one another but the stories are all entwined in their own special ways. The first story of the volume features a young tomboyish woman who wishes her life was a shojo manga as she aimlessly wanders through her life. Other stories include a schoolgirl who is bullied not only by her peers but also by a mysterious black bird & a tale about a trio of teen boys who each wonder if they'll ever get the chance to realize their dreams.
I really enjoyed this manga, but then I knew I would. Asano's work is incredibly powerful. His artwork isn't the typical "big eyes, small mouth & panty shots" style that is so prevalent in today's manga, which is why most of his stories work so well. The art is pretty lifelike & as a result the characters are all more believable for it.
I also liked how his characters interact with each other. There's no huge moral, no super character that saves the day & no happy go lucky girl who succeeds without really trying. People hurt & get hurt in these stories. Not every story has a gung-ho happy ending. But every story is satisfying, even when the stories may not end as you hoped that they would.Read more ›
Make no mistake, this is a mature book for mature readers. Unlike other "mature" material, though, there is little violence and only pg-13 nudity. The maturity stems from the very real, uncompromising analysis of humanity. Themes of suicide, disillusionment, heartbreak, ennui, and death are all prevalent in this manga. Depending on a person's mindset, this could end up becoming a very depressing book. On the other hand, there is a solid theme of finding a place in society and learning to be happy even when reality doesn't match the dream.
I cannot recommend this book for everybody. I think that the storytelling style is one that would resonate strongly with some and be utterly repugnant to others. It is difficult for me to pinpoint who would enjoy this book, but here it goes:
If you love bitter-sweet stories, anti-heroes, slice of life, philosophical musings, and/or non-stereotypical characters then you should buy this book.
In short, although Solanin was completed just a few years later, it is more impressive, accomplished, important, and mature than Wonderful World by orders of magnitude.
The art in Wonderful World is fine and on par with Asano's high standard. The story and characters are the problem. The protagonists -- angsty teens, runaways, yakuza, and others -- strike me as the same kind of Tarantino residue, indie film aping that many young, talented artists who don't yet know what they want to say come up with. Unlike in the masterful Solanin, Asano here says little about real life; these characters are plucked from fantasy, seemingly from an author struggling to find characters dramatic enough to write about. They don't seem real. Which is fine, but Asano is at his best when portraying believable characters, and by wandering this middle ground between fantasy and reality, the dramatic climaxes feel unrealistic and unearned. Asano displays his familiar attention to slice-of-life details (characters changing haircuts, outfits, jobs, relationships), but they aren't developed or convincing enough.
This would be best for young adult readers or people in their early 20s. Older audiences will and should expect more from a book. Having read Solanin and being familiar with Asano's voice, it's interesting to see him find and carve out that voice in this earlier work. But I have a hard time recommending Wonderful World in and of itself. Check out Solanin to really see Asano shine.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
its hard to find a good grown-up manga but this is one of them. I wasn't amazed by this manga but i was very entertained by the emotional depth and sophistication of the writing.Published on February 6, 2014 by zac
My daughter which I bought them for enjoyed them so much, i did not understand how to read them but she loved themPublished on August 7, 2013 by Kindle Customer
while Inio Asano's Solanin carries a ray of hope for its heroine, What a Wonderful World is its darker, more brooding sliver of a broken mirror with its vignettes of Tokyo... Read morePublished on September 20, 2010 by Mona