I read another piece of manga and thought I’d share my thoughts on here. I haven’t really written any manga reviews before, so feel free to leave your feedback on this style of review and layout. Thanks!
The title I’m reading is Inio Asano’s “Umibe no Onnanoko” aka “A Girl on the Shore” or “Girl by the Sea”. Having been published from 2009 to 2013, it only has twenty chapters and hence features an actual end to it, which I found quite rare.
All the good manga seem to be endless and mostly get updated weekly until they eventually drag out so much that they lose everything that once made them good. There surely still are good pieces out there that work well in the long run and usually stay true to their original premises… but lately I’m feeling as if the majority of the “good ones” are either running out of ideas to keep it fresh or getting stale and repetitive.
A Girl by the Sea is short with only twenty chapters and only two volumes but it has a clear end and a clear cut that needs to be done to keep it entertaining. Inio Asano apparently is known for his creative ideas and his well-written stories, so I will have to look into his works more often but as a newbie to his works, I really got drawn in by his way of story-telling and the general premise of the manga from the moment I first came across it to the very end.
But what is this piece about?
In a seaside town where really nothing happens, Koume Satou’s heart gets broken by her crush which is why she ends up starting some sort of “friendship+” without the friendship-part with Keisuke Isobe whom she had previously rejected. As things go on and as they both fill their emotional voids with each other’s embrace, things are falling apart as their “unordinary relationship” impacts the lives of them and everyone around them, especially since actual feelings seem to develop between the unusual pair.
It’s sort of a weird mix between a romantic school story and a drama.
Chapter after chapter the author is able to tell us the story of their bitter love-story that just doesn’t seem to end well. It’s a harsh take on the romance-story and it features unusual outlooks on love, relationships and the emotions of not-quite-grownups.
Despite all the talk about love and relationships, it is sort of a coming-of-age story… and well, there’s also sex scenes. Of course, these aren’t super graphic but Inio Asano doesn’t care about censoring his work when it comes to the actual contents. Asano keeps it direct and straight to the point without deluding on what the characters want or what they are curious about. Teens will try stuff out and hence there’s some weird stuff in there – and if you’re not comfortable with that, you can skip past it. I’d even say that you’re not even missing out if you decide to really skip the short sex scenes in between, as you’ll find a thrilling story with a clean cut at the end.
What matters a lot about that kind of romance story is the fact that it’s different from “the usual stuff”.
It’s not the typical romance-story where they end up holding hands half-way through (if even) and where they kiss at the end (if even). It’s deeper than that. The characters evolve over time and so do their problems. There are certain plot strings that are open at first and before the end, they actually get followed through. And whatever happens, no matter how dark and distorted it really is, eventually it gets closed up, resulting in no loose strings and essentially a fulfilling story.
It’s a beautifully crafted work that features great development and a lot of unexpected twists, which I really enjoyed. I’ve binged through it in one day and had goosebumps throughout the ride after the first few chapters.
At one point, I thought it would turn into “just another” love-triangle and people getting emotionally abused, similar to Waiting in the Summer… but the story caught me off-guard and once I reached the final chapter, I couldn’t really think of any possible ways of the story ending. I am not sure if it was the ending I wanted but it was the ending it deserved. And that’s something I like about good stories, books, movies and franchises: An ending.
I like it when there is closure. I don’t want to want “more”. I want to end up feeling satisfied with having heard about something, watching, playing or reading through it and then being done with it with nothing else to come. While surely, it’s great to see more of one’s favourite franchise, I don’t think it’s necessary to draw and stretch things out.
“Fillers are deadly”, is what a friend of mine would have said in that regard. But Girl By The Sea doesn’t feature any fillers, which is pleasant. It has its chapters with breathing room but they are not obnoxious and still give you a sense of pacing throughout the story while allowing you to catch your breath every once in a while.
If you wanna make money out of a franchise and stretch it out until it has 1000+ episodes, chapters, sequels, etc., it eventually will lose its appeal and will just die out. Rewatching a good and short show is better than having to stop eventually before it completely bled out.
And while I’m praising the story and the characters so much, I haven’t even touched upon the “realistic” design and the fact that the characters are being represented as real as they could be with no strings attached and no masks or other surprises. They are the way they are and they behave in a realistic manner.
It’s lovely how it gets so ugly.
And the art style also features panels without any people, picturing the vastness of the town. Everything gets bigger over time and the bigger the area depictured gets, the emptier it is. And that’s something that I could probably write a whole series of posts about it but I don’t want to spoil the fun of dissecting it. I don’t want you to already know how great the story works with the art style and the directions and the way that the world is portraying the characters’ feelings (oops?).
So, in the end… it’s a great one. I really liked this one and I honestly recommend it to anyone who likes darker stories that leave you with a satisfying ending and that catch you off-guard.
Stay safe. Stay healthy. Good night.
This post is part of a challenge called BLAPRIL. The goal is to post as much as possible during the 30 days of April. There are different themes during some of the weeks and a lot of mentors, newbies and participants participating. Feel free to check this hub-post out and check out the other participants!