Solanin (manga and movie adaptation)

I’ve already shown my appreciation of manga-ka Asano Inio through his still-ongoing manga Oyasumi Punpun, but I’ve yet to get past the surface when it came to backtracking through the rest of his works. Having read Punpun as well as his first major manga What a Wonderful World, I was well aware of Asano’s care of balancing realistic stories and overall weirdness, but I’ve yet to find a title of his that was more grounded in the former until I read Solanin.

dmncap solanin

Solanin is told from the point of view of Meiko—a recent college graduate that is struggling to find her place in the world—alongside her other friends/former classmates. The premise is simple enough, but Asano’s execution in storytelling gives it the life and personality it deserves. Each character, from Meiko and her boyfriend Taneda, to comic relief/bro characters Billy and Katou goes through their own daily life struggles that are easy to relate to, but never boring to read. As each person comes to their own realization of what it means to truly live, signs of a story begin to form and Solanin’s genre itself seems to transform from slice-of-life, to something more music-centric, following the death of a loved one. It’s this sudden shift paired with its already unique style that makes Solanin a stand-out title.

But what happens when you translate that to the big screen?

Four years after the original manga was released, Solanin was adapted into a live action movie in 2010.

dmncap solanin movie
Story-wise, the movie is a near identical clone of the manga series, taking no shortcuts when it came to adapting each plot point and each character (both major and minor, surprisingly enough). And yet for some reason, I found the movie just “alright” in comparison to its source material. Perhaps it’s the exclusion of author Asano Inio’s slight deviations from the plot with his more dreamlike asides. While the story itself is bound in the real world, Asano takes advantage of the medium that is manga by illustrating some concepts in a more fantastical sense than normal. Things like Taneda having a thought process involving personifications of each of his emotions sorting things through, to more minor things like Billy dreaming of himself dreaming were a nice demonstration of what you can get away with in the manga world that just can’t work well in a live action adaptation, and thus were dropped from the story entirely. Without such asides, the Solanin movie doesn’t seem to stand out to me as much. And considering that a certain other movie involving a ragtag band that also cast Kenta Kiritani as a supporting character was released that same year, it just made the movie that much more forgettable.

Another debilitating factor would have to be the general hype for the film.

Not only does the trailer completely and utterly spoil a twist in the plot that shows up halfway through the movie, but it makes it out to be the central point that drives the entire movie. On top of that, posters and the like seemed to focus on the film more in terms of its cast creating their band post-(spoilers), shoving aside the whole “finding yourself after college” theme entirely. I know that trailers and movie posters are only a small part of the movie, but they do serve as an influence for audiences and should give a feel of what the movie has to offer rather than showing all its cards upfront.

But gripes aside, that’s not to say that the movie still isn’t a fun ride. It faithfully adapts its source material to the T, maintaining the likeable cast and relatable-ness of the overall story with a cast of actors that really brought the characters to life (again, allow me to mention Kenta Kiritani and his scene-stealing performance as Billy). But even with that in mind, I still can’t give it more than a “good but not great” rating.

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About daemoncorps
Gabe (daemoncorps) has been writing about anime and the like since 2005, but has been babysat by it for much longer. He primarily spends his days distracting himself on twitter or writing for Fandom Post until he realizes he has a weekly webcomic (tapastic.com/series/scramblebouquet) to work on. He also just finished writing his first full-length graphic novel about unemployment (https://tapastic.com/episode/293804).

2 Responses to Solanin (manga and movie adaptation)

  1. SAM says:

    where can i find its live action movie? i really liked this series

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