Sunday, 5 October 2014

Sorako by Fujimura Takayuki Review

Fujimura Takayuki’s Sorako is a wonderful collection of short stories, the majority of which follow Sorako, a young woman fresh out of high school but directionless and unable to find a job. All of the stories are about young Japanese women who are somewhat aimless. 

In one story, a young barista decides that she should study abroad in England but can’t speak English. She half-heartedly pursues this but doesn’t know if its the right move. In another, a young woman discovers she hasn’t the enthusiasm for anything. Her boyfriend breaks up with her and she doesn’t care. She goes to a concert and feels nothing for the music. And then she finds a broken birdcage and her perspective shifts. 

The Sorako stories reminded me a lot of Dan Clowes’ Ghost World, where Sorako is a kind of Japanese Enid. She goes to a job interview but doesn’t get the job, and, to make matters worse, her bull terrier Toma has gone missing. Later on she talks to her blonde friend, who works in a cafe, about how she doesn’t care about anything and that no job interests her. 

Takayuki’s stories feel like believable glimpses into contemporary Japanese young women’s lives, particularly at the transitional and uncertain time between high school and full time work. The stories are lo-fi and concern themselves with everyday lives, without branching out into surrealism to vary things like male manga artists are prone to, and yet the comics are no less fascinating for it. 

They’re very heartfelt and full of real human moments as we see these young women figuring out their identities and life paths. They’re beautifully drawn and Takayuki has a superb sense of how to tell a story through comics so they read extremely smoothly. Some stories are more successful than others but I didn’t read one that I thought was boring or pointless - they’re all worth reading. 

Fujimura Takayuki is an enormously talented artist and Sorako is a brilliant collection of indie manga that’s totally enthralling to read. Those who enjoy thoughtful, slice of life tales will love these, though I recommend this book to all comics fans everywhere!


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