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What a Wonderful World! Vol. 1

Inio Asano, Author, Inio Asano, Illustrator
Inio Asano, Author, Inio Asano, Illustrator . Viz $12.99 (202p) ISBN 978-1-4215-3221-9
Reviewed on: 10/26/2009
Release date: 10/01/2009
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Asano's beautifully drawn anthology follows up his Harvey and Eisner–nominated Solanin with more short stories about sullen teenagers and 20-somethings. If anything, the short story format makes Asano's mopey protagonists far more sympathetic. Some of the characters are more likable than others; in two related shorts, appealing punk rocker Horita gives up his dreams of becoming a rock star to put on a suit and tie, only to recant later in the book. In “A Town of Many Hills,” a bullied teen believes a talking crow is a death god encouraging her to commit suicide. Like many of the book's protagonists, the girl overcomes her death wish, but hers is the most triumphant victory in the volume. Asano's artwork is very attractive, frequently interspersing all-black panels with the characters' inner thoughts in white text. His teens' navel-gazing thoughts are prone to platitudes, but much less so here than in Solanin . What a Wonderful World! is titled ironically, but its message to aimless and depressed young people is a positive one, told without preaching, and the artwork and strong storytelling make this another standout. (Oct.)

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