This review has spoilers.
Asano Inio, acclaimed author of 'Oyasumi Punpun', exercises his technical skill in 'Umibe no Onnanoko'; however, underneath its artistic allure, the story it tells is uncompelling and fails to develop into something fully realized.
Umibe no Onnako only makes the vaguest of hints about what it really is.
For the most part, it is atmospheric and it does deserve to be acknowledged for that. It does a more than decent job at establishing the listlessness its characters experience. But, everything else the manga attempts falls flat. For it being such a short manga, it feels longer than it actually does--- for better or for
worse. It trudges along at a slow pace, with much of the rising action feeling more like introductory material, and then arrives at an unexpected climax (in hindsight, considering how Asano built up the characters, it might have been apparent that one of them would eventually do something stupid). Afterward, the story fizzles down and shows itself out, leaving readers with a somewhat unsatisfying ending and in a state of limbo.
If there is one thing 'Umibe no Onnanoko' does great, it's its art.
Asano's illustrations are certainly what defines his work. The scenery is gorgeous and realistic, and the characters sit nicely on them. The art is normal in the most heart-wrenching way, allowing the reader to easily put their selves into the characters' shoes. 'Umibe no Onnanoko' finds wonder in the commonplace with its beautifully detailed, meticulously planned panels, and lingering sense of serenity juxtaposed against the sadness the art holds; Asano certainly had a vision, and this manga is an example of how much he has developed his identity in manga.
As much as I would like to praise the art of 'Umibe no Onnanoko', I recommend you read it to have even the slightest idea of what I am talking about.
The character writing is okay.
People here come off as actual people, albeit being unlikable sometimes (Looking at you, Isobe). One thing to consider is that these characters are adolescents, and are not fully matured. This can read like a poor excuse for bad character writing, but I do believe that the motives behind the characters actions are acceptable. Save for the protagonist, which is an enigma. While the manga DOES allude to the fact that she is in love with Isobe, it never tells us exactly the reason why. They have sex and she falls in love. Okay.
The side characters are far less developed, only being cookie-cutter slice-of-life characters made much more sedate and laid back, with the consequence of being slightly less memorable.
This manga has flaws, yes. Nonetheless, I still enjoyed reading it. I liked the atmosphere it provided, the well-drawn art, the direction. The story being vague did affect my experience, but I still forgave its wandering story for how much I liked Asano Inio.
'Umibe no Onnanoko' is presented in a skillful manner, but the story it stands to tell is not one to write home about. As I am aware that it is a flawed manga, I will admit that I still like i.