Book Review | A Girl on the Shore

(After some thought, I’ve decided to reopen this blog and share my thoughts about books, games and stuff again. You see, I’ve been overwhelmed with work, school, family obligations and whatnot, that for almost a year I’ve neglected this space in the internet where I’m supposed to brain-dump everything.)

A Girl on the Shore, first published in 2011, was written and illustrated by Inio Asano. Vertical Comics provided the English edition early in 2016. It’s an account of the young lives of two junior high school students, Isobe and Sato, who fell into casual sex to satisfy each other’s growing curiosities as they go through puberty. With this set-up, they have learned about each other’s predilections. However, they stayed reserved about each other’s emotions, and so they did not really get to the point of knowing each other on a deeper level. Nonetheless, sex to them has become not only an escape but also a way to find answers. Theirs is a story that is not quite a romance, rather, just an interesting phase that might have helped them figure out  how to go on with their lives.

Aside from sexual exploration, this manga also touches serious themes like social validation, isolation, suicide, bullying, death, and family struggles. Isobe has been dubbed an otaku, whose older brother died allegedly of suicide — a matter of which he cannot apparently over with. He lives in an empty, depressing house as his parents are almost never home. Sato also has emotional issues as she seeks validation from a douchebag who would never date her. It actually worried me that the plot will turn into a dark ending for it progressively got intense, but the last chapter seems to offer optimism. Isobe looks content as if she has finally found what she’s been looking for all along.

I think it was the detailed illustration of Inio Asano that primarily set the tone of the story — the element made the greatest impact to my reading experience. The shading and line work in every panel complements the mood and feelings of the characters. It is too graphic, showing genitalia after genitalia, and it may be disturbing to other readers, but Asano somehow made sex a necessary component of his literature and art that made the explicitness seem as if it’s intelligently controlled.

A Girl on the Shore is a realistic take on growing up and understanding life in general. It’s raw and honest, bundled with a well-written, engrossing narrative. I’d definitely give it another read.

Also, I want to explore more of Inio Asano’s works in the future. Any recommendations?

My Rating: ★★★★★

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