Sometimes I feel like art is all about putting on airs. Fortunately, it's just sometimes, but here's another example of it.
This title was highly praised by Jiro Taniguchi, who even wrote a preface for it (well, he was asked and paid to do so, but anyway). Now Jiro Taniguchi is a great artist and quite a good storyteller, even though his best works were adaptions of other people's books. You'd think he knows a good story when he sees one and usually that's true, after all, he did want to adapt all those stories others wrote. Not in this case though.
And yet everything that would make a good story is there: relatable characters based on real people, a nice, different setting and some good ideas. Too bad it doesn't lead anywhere. The story is supposed to be about an unusual generational conflict. It's there, but the conclusion feels like a cheat; we are kind of left hanging. We are actually kind of left hanging in general, no subplot is resolved. Everything simply ends when the main character moves away.
I can't begin to describe how big of a problem this conclusion creates, it impacts everything else. You want to know how the story ended? Too bad, there's no conclusion. You want to know what became of the main character's friend or of another character with a crush on her? Too bad, there's nothing. You want to know how the main character fared in the world of punk rock (yes, punk rock is a prominent theme here)? Too bad, that's a story you'll never see. It's frustrating to no end.
It also raises the question: why? Why did the author want to tell exactly this kind of story? Why was the setting important, why was punk rock important and why was the longing for England important? You'll search for a point, but doesn't seem to be any, because the author doesn't make one. Everything is simply... over.
And don't get me started about the impact on the characters. They are all interesting as long as they play a role, but when you reach the end and you see there's no conclusion to anything, the caracters start to feel shallow. The kind of shallow you see in mass-produced manga for otaku, where every single character has a certain trait tacked on them which is supposed to be their whole personality. I know I'm doing this title an injustice in saying this, but I can't help it.
And this is also why I talked about putting on airs earlier. There's tons of things to make critics squee over, but they are simply there. They are shown one by one and that's all. Maybe it's artful, maybe it's good art, but I personally can't appreciate something like this.
I honestly wouldn't recommend this to anyone. Not even to elitists and wannabes, even they deserve proper stories.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll go re-read some Taniguchi. read more