Ten quiet slice-of-life vignettes comprise Sorako, a thin yet evocative volume published by GEN Manga. Each story features a young woman struggling through the ennui typical of the transition between teenage life and adulthood. While each story is independent of the others, the titular character Sorako is the only one who receives a follow-up chapter.
In Sorako’s story, we learn that her beloved dog Toma has run away. Other than Toma, Sorako doesn’t seem to find anything enjoyable about life as she half-heartedly searches for a job and blames her lack of motivation on her mundane hometown. In a later chapter, a girl named Hatoko seems content to sleepwalk through life without experiencing the emotions on which her peers thrive. At one point, Hatoko’s best friend teases her for her typical response to things that others find thrilling: “Pretty okay, I guess.” Both stories feature girls who find themselves most comfortable on the sidelines as life moves rapidly past, and it is only when these characters step outside their comfort zones that they finally begin to move past their boredom.
Sorako is a great manga to recommend to those who usually avoid the format. The characters are relatable and the plots are uncomplicated. There is nary a giant robot, magical girl, or fuku school uniform in sight, nor are there any giant eyes or outrageous hairstyles typically associated with the manga style. Most of the artwork is lovely and uncluttered, depicting each girl and her surroundings in a simple manner which borders on realistic and cartoonish. However, the artwork becomes rough and sketchy in one or two of the stories, as if the artist was rushed to finish the draft.
Sorako is unlikely to attract manga fans who want volumes chock full of mayhem and adventure, but it will be enjoyed by those who prefer something less flashy. Sorako might even find appreciation with readers who would never think to touch manga—try this one with fans of Ghost World and other understated indie titles.
by Fujimura Takayuki
Publisher Age Rating: 15+