Thursday, September 30, 2010

Manga Recommendations: Metro Survive, Uzumaki and Solanin

Image by Nobicco
Besides watching anime, manga also has a large place in my heart. Although I’ve read not nearly as much as I’ve watched, the count is steadily increasing. Among these titles, there are three that I wanted to give special attention to in this post, titles that meant something special for me, or stood out in one way or another.

Metro Survive

Synopsis: Mishima is a salary man who's constantly away from his wife and child due to his grueling, overtime-heavy job. After being stuck in the office on the eve of his son's birthday, Mishima boards the train with remorse and ponders his life. Before he can return home, however, a 7.0 earthquake strikes, crippling the train and leaving its passengers helpless. Mishima now finds himself as the appointed leader of a group of survivors who want nothing more than to stay alive. Together, they will try to make their way to the surface, but starvation, cave-ins and other fatal obstacles stand in their way... (synopsis taken from

The strength in Metro Survive isn’t necessarily in its wide range of deep and multi-layered characters. What it is good at, is portraying a believable story of how people would act when faced with desperation. Pacts are formed and people are despairing in the face of death while Mishima, a regular salary worker, tries to keep the group together and get everyone out alive. It’s exactly that feeling of leadership that drove the manga forward with suspense, and made it one of the most memorable survival titles I’ve read or seen to date. A must-read if tales of survival are your thing.


Synopsis: In the seemingly-normal small Japanese town of Kurozu-cho, odd events are beginning to take place. Residents are becoming obsessed with spiral - whirlwinds, snail shells, pottery, or anything with a spiral design. But when strange events start happening in the town, with spirals appearing in disturbing places, can anyone escape their horrible draw? (synopsis taken from

This one DEFINITELY is not a story for everyone, as it contains lots of disturbing scenes, lots of almost humorous grossness and not -much- plot-progression (not until later on, anyway). It is however an absolute must-read for fans of the horror genre, or more specifically, the strange Japanese kind. Uzumaki is deliciously gross. It grabs you, throws in some suspense, gets you close to vomiting and then mercilessly starts the next mini-story about the horrors of spirals (yes, those twirly things, nothing more, nothing less) without giving you much room to breathe. Despite Uzumaki’s silliness, I did experience some of those after-horror feelings after reading the last two volumes in one go late at night. Besides a gripping story, the artwork is also commendable with detailed deformations and, at times, gorgeous environments.


Synopsis: Meiko Inoue is fresh out of college and ready to face the 'real world' - that is, a boring full time job, a boyfriend who mooches off of her and an unending barrage of vegetable boxes sent by her folks in the countryside. To escape the mundanity Meiko decides to quit her job and break free. Jobless, but with enough money to last her a few months and ample ideas in her head, Meiko will embark on a journey of self discovery and decide what she really wants to do with her life. (synopsis taken from

This is a manga that deals with a rather serious, but also everyday topic, the dreaded quarter-life crisis. You’ve finished your education and are supposed to get a job, live your life as a responsible adult. The absolute strong point of Solanin is its feeling of realness. It shows how Meiko deals with her issues and tries to find for the things that make her happy. Nothing is exaggerated and nothing is taken too light-heartedly. It hits all the buttons almost perfectly to make it relatable to its target audience. One of the very best seinen titles I’ve read or seen, and something I’d recommend to anyone not disgusted by something a bit heavier than the norm.

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