If you don’t have a set plan in place, your twenties and thirties can be brutal. Adrift in life, bouncing between jobs and relationships, looking for something solid, something that speaks to you, that one loud signal, telling you you’ve finally found your direction. For Minare Koda, all it took was one bad breakup, an excessive amount of alcohol, and a radio producer searching for content.
In Wave, Listen to Me!, the newest manga from Blade of the Immortal creator Hiroaki Samura, Minare is a down-on-her-luck server at a Hokkaido restaurant. She’s not wild about her job, is often tardy, and is dealing with a messy break-up. One night, she gets blackout drunk at a local bar and begins to vent to other patrons about how her relationship went sideways. It just happens that one of those patrons is Kanetsugu Mato, director of the production department at MRS, a local radio station. So when Minare hears her own rant from the restaurant’s speakers the next day, she’s understandably upset. Minare storms out of work, heads straight for the station, and in an odd choice of action for live radio, Kanetsugu lets Minare on the air to rebuke her own words the night before. And while her choice of actions puts her day job in jeopardy, it also sets her life on a new path, one of potentially becoming a hit radio personality.
Wave, Listen to Me! does a great job of giving us a peek at a unique facet of Japanese culture, the radio business. It’s a much different style than we’re used to in America. Typically, we get either all music or all talk, but in Japan, it harkens back to the early days of American radio, giving a mix of both formats at once. Often in the book, you’ll see someone back-announce a song that just played, then use that break to roll into an extended conversation. At one point, you even get to see a chunk of MRS’s schedule, showing the wide variety of programming they carry. As someone who’s done some broadcasting in the past, it’s really cool to see a completely different take on the format. On top of that, it shows why Minare’s frankness is well-suited for the radio business.
Samura has perfectly captured the angst and frustration that comes with the quarter-life crisis. In Minare, he’s created a headstrong, opinionated character, one that isn’t afraid to get mad, but is also willing to follow through on that rage to the other side, rather than wallow in the aimlessness she’s facing. Minare could easily quit at any point and go back to drifting through life, but instead she takes hold of the faintest of leads and pursues it to a path with a bit more substance. Her supporting cast is a great foil for Minare’s attitude, from the relaxed wisdom of Kanetsugu and the warm kindness of his assistant director, Mizuho, to restaurant coworker Nakahara’s attempts to level out her anger, if only to try to date her while he’s at it.
One thing that is a bit shocking is how well Samura’s art style, which earned awards in both Japan and America for depicting the brutality of samurai combat, translates to modern-day comedy. His loose penciling style gives the art a great kinetic energy, while still being wonderfully intricate. The attention to detail in each scene makes you feel that every frame of the book was painstakingly planned, giving you a window into everyday life in Hokkaido. His characters match that level of quality, adeptly running a wide range of emotions while keeping things grounded, never having to stoop to devices like chibi renditions.
In Wave, Listen to Me!, Hiroaki Samura has put together a great slice-of-life manga that tells a too-real story of frustration with life, but in a way that leaves you hopeful for the future. You’ll be compelled to continue reading to find out just how far Minare’s attitude will get her. Add this series to your heavy rotation and you won’t be disappointed.
Wave, Listen to Me! manga volume 1 features story and art by Hiroaki Samura the author of Blade of the Immortal. Minare’s tired of men, she’s tired of work, and she’s tired of being told she’s too old to be single. One night, she gets drunk and unloads onto a kind stranger—but what she doesn’t know is this stranger works in radio, and he wasn’t just listening, he was recording. Hearing her own pitiful rambling broadcast the next day, Minare rushes to the studio and hijacks the mic. Now, for the first time, an entire city will have to listen to one woman’s rage…Add to CartLearn More