Page 45 Review by Tom
Meiko graduated from university two years ago and found herself on autopilot. What was once just her part-time job, is now full-time and just as comfortably numbing. She doesn't feel life has dealt her a duff hand, it's more a case of her not quite ready to take that last step into adulthood. So in a desperate attempt to stave off responsibility one more time she quits her job, sending a ripple through the lives of those close to her. A call to arms for her friends to pick up the fading fragments of their childhood dreams and give them one last chance before the spark is drummed out of them forever. Her somewhat rash decision pushes her boyfriend Naruo into a crisis point. So he follows suit and quits his job to take his hibernating student band into the recording studio for a final attempt at making an impact. They fail. But before Naruo has a chance to begin life anew as a grown up he crashes his scooter and dies, a Peter Pan with no regrets. Even more directionless than before, Meiko and her and Naruo's friends soldier on with the band, only with the Meiko filling Naruo's shoes on guitar and vocals. Until the last song, their creative catharsis will wrench your heart strings.
Inio is Japan's answer to Terry Moore (STRANGERS IN PARADISE, ECHO) as he nails the humour of conversation between friends without ever making you feel you, the reader, are on the outside looking in. And like Terry he is able to tell a story through multiple first-person narratives, effortlessly switching between the perspectives of Meiko, Naruo and their friends.
While the art is as stylised as you would expect from manga, it's also firmly realistic, never delving into unnecessary cute. Inio wrote this when he was just 24, the same age as the characters, and it's a joy to find someone that young able to convey their experiences in such an accomplished manner. And yeah, it's also just one complete book - beginning, middle, and end. Somewhat of a novelty for contemporary manga!