"Because I have no economic or political ambitions, I can only envision a life of poverty. But a man is supposed to prioritize his happiness over all else." -The Main Character (of Himawari)
People are told to behave, be, and showcase who they truly are, but what if their parents, their usual main source for inspiration and support, imagine and expect their children to behave and act a different way?
Himawari, a short one-shot by prolific and talented mangaka Inio Asano, briefly explores a repressed man who feels this for most of his life. Then quickly, out of seemingly nowhere, his parents die in an unfortunate accident.
It opens with a man who appears to be in his early-thirties. He is visited by a young woman who looks roughly the same age as him. He spends most of his time twiddling on his cellphone while the two discuss how their lives are going. Their lives are now gradually becoming more complicated due to recent problems they've encountered. The overall premise is straightforward. It revolves around how the main character, a repressed and divorced man, feels like after realizing his parents died while talking to an estranged female companion. The story is interesting and explained well-enough to make sense in the limited thirty pages the manga lasts. For the small amount of pages this manga contains, it actually does a decent job on the story department. However, the manga's overall storytelling is lacking and is not as terrifically interesting and emotionally-involving as it could have been, so my overall rating for the story isn't especially high.
Inio Asano really steps it up with his already appealing artwork. Honestly, Umibe no Onnanoko and later, more recent chapters of Oyasumi Punpun are the only examples of when his art is better than this excellently drawn one-shot. The one-shot's art is dark blue and white in color, rather the usual black and white, but it doesn't feel distracting at all. The art flows just as smoothly as the regular black and white kind would. The backgrounds are realistically intricate and give the manga a nice, breezy feel. The character designs are well-drawn and are also detailed, especially when compared to artwork earlier in Asano's career. The main character's lanky body and growing, unshaven facial hair are given nice attention. And the main female character design is attractive and possesses the usual, trademark trapezoid-like eyes that Asano has now wonderfully made into his very own splendid staple. Other secondary characters are also designed well, and are thankfully not given less detail just because they're in lesser focus. He isn't lazy and it shows.
The main character's history with the main female character is intriguing. It is hinted that they used to be married together and have a much stronger relationship than they currently have. However, the main character's past and history with his parents is what truly makes this one-shot interesting. It seems around high school his parents basically forced him to pursue a distinguished career in the city which isn't something that he desired. His feelings ultimately become repressed, and he explains that he used to partake in many particular acts unlike himself just to solely please them. This explains why he seems like such a defeated and disinterested person when he talks to the female character. After the accident that caused both of his parent's death, he doesn't seem very shocked or saddened at all, more of relieved. Asano created an interesting character, and it's a shame the manga runs too short. He could have been explored more with even better results in terms of character depth.
I thoroughly enjoyed this one-shot despite some setbacks due to the shortness and lack of exposition. I liked learning about the main character and his feelings regarding his parents and his past.
A good one-shot based on an interesting character. This one-shot is not amazing and has its share of flaws, but is still a solid and enjoyable read. Fans of Inio Asano will enjoy another intriguing story from him, and newcomers to this mangaka can also appreciate and enjoy this one-shot. Perhaps it might even lead them to other better, more fleshed out manga by him.