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 Post subject: Salad Days
PostPosted: January 18th, 2009, 10:25 pm 
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Salad Days – by Inokuma Shinobu -

Quoting a passage from one of Shakespeares’ works, Inokuma Shinobu’s “Salad Days” is a collection of short love stories. Surprinsingly, these short stories are just one or two chapters long, sometimes three, featuring of course different characters; some of them come back, or make appearances in future chapters as supporting characters, but the majority do not. There is, however, one couple that takes a more protagonistic role, being the center of several chapters in different volumes, starting from volume six, up to the end of the manga.

This compilation of stories shiftes mostly around the lives of Sr. high school students in the elite school, Tohko, and also Jr. High School students that aim for Tohko. And they occur around the same timeframe, so it’s possible for characters to be present in other characters’s stories. This is something I found very amusing, since it’s very refreshing to see characters show up every now and then, especially if you are not expecting it. Also, there are so many different stories that it’s easy to forget faces so sometimes I found myself going back a few volumes to trace the origins of a returning character.

The outcome of the stories may be happy, bittersweet, sad, or just funny. It really varies from chapter to chapter, but it is really entertaining. Sometimes you may identify yourself in one of the stories, and laugh about it, or perhaps get melancholic, especially if you have already gone through high school. Or perhaps it might be a nice source of inspiration for those still in those years.

Either way these short stories are all about the feeling of love. It may sound a little corny but it is a very fun read. One thing I enjoyed a lot was reading the notes of the mangaka. There was one section called “My favorite girls”, at the end of each volume, where he would have a little talk on a specific girl he liked and admired. I found it funny because I found we both share an inclination for girls with short hair. He featured my two favorite actresses, Winona Ryder and Natalie Portman, in the very first chapters, so in a way I felt obliged to keep reading (haha), what can I say the guy has good taste.

The art is very nice. I liked the detail on the characters’ hair and how the mangaka tried hard to present characters with many different clothing styles and looks. There is also a good effort put on the backgrounds, and pretty much everything drawn. While some male characters looked very similar, they all differed in their personalities. The girls on the other hand were drawn very distintively, so that was not a problem. I thought Mr Inokuma did a nice job bringing so many characters to life, and making some of them very memorable. It’s also good to see that even though most of the times there is a male narrator, one gets to see girls’ perspectives in some of the stories.
Everynow and then a little fanservice is shown, nothing that should be found too objectionable, these scenes were mostly devices to make some of the jokes work.

I have but one complaint in this manga, and it was on a story where we had 2 girls and 3 guys playing main roles, there was no outcome, and it all seemed to point for an encore in one of the final volumes. I was waiting for it, but it never came.
On the other hand the main couple of the story had a very good closure which I found great, just as many other characters in the manga. If you were tired of reading those stories where it took 10 volumes for a character to confess, you’ll love this, since you’ll get to read countless confessions.
So that’s pretty much it. I personally loved the manga. It is very rereadable; I probably forgot half of the stories already so that’s a good excuse for me to read it again some day.
I do recommend it, if you don’t mind romance in your manga. It’s nice for a change of pace after all the seinen we (I) read nowadays.
I give it 9 out of 10 because it achieved what it aimed for, to get me, the reader, to revisit those “salad days, when I was green in judgement”. 9/10


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