Kino No Tabi is the novelized version of the popular anime series Kino’s Journey. Although published by Tokyopop in 2006, it is not a manga. The descriptive style of writing could easily work as a manga and it is a good companion piece with the DVD, Kino’s Journey, which is also available from Surrey Libraries. This young adult novel is set in a post-apocalyptic future Japan although any reference to time and place is nonexistent. Instead the novel is set more in a fantasy realm and uses elements of the known world as tangible points for the reader. Kino is a young adult, possibly a young teen. The reader is left to guess because her current age is only described by others as younger to them although we find that she started on her journey at the age of twelve. Her companion on her journey is a talking motorcycle named Hermes. Why the motorcycle is able to talk is slightly alluded to when on one of their adventures they meet another traveller with a talking dog. The dog and Hermes find each other’s ability to talk equally ridiculous, but accepted nonetheless. Kino travels with Hermes to different countries as they are described. These countries are more like city states which have their own rules and idiosyncratic beliefs. Kino has a fixed rule of not staying in one place more than three days in order not to become too involved with the people of the city she visits. This rule of course never holds true since she invariably becomes embroiled in some adventure or intrigue within the city. Kino’s travels are an allegory for a teen’s journey into adulthood and their similar contempt and attraction for what that will mean to them. (Submitted by Shane).
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Solanin is a young adult manga written by Inio Asano. First written in 2006, it has been reprinted last year with an additional epilogue. Solanin is a critically acclaimed manga that depicts the lives of twenty-something millennials living in Japan. The characters in the book have recently graduated from college and are attempting to find themselves and their place within Japanese society. The prescient ennui of fretting by the characters for their futures within Japanese society permeates this manga. The characters battle between what is expected of them by society and what they feel they should be doing with their lives. At first the protagonists feel the choice is binary; either they should grow up and get jobs or drop out and fulfill their passion for music. By the end of the manga we have observed the character’s growth through personal loss and see them triumph over the need to feel alive because they have recognized that their daily actions do have meaning. (Submitted by Shane)
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This short graphic novel was written in 2008. It is hard to believe the beginning of the Great Recession is almost 10 years old. For most Millennials this is a forgotten period. Stargazing Dog, written at the start of the economic crises, takes us on a journey about two lives caught up in the economic uncertain time. One is a divorced middle aged man and the other a middle aged Shiba Inu. We usually think of the economic crises of the last decade as effecting mainly North America but this story is set in Japan. As the author states it was written to challenge the theory of “adapt or die”. No doubt this is the saddest graphic novel I have read and is a must read for anyone who has loved a dog. It is a short, but extremely powerful story which although can be read in a few minutes the impact it leaves will remain for some time. (Submitted by Shane)
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