Review: Wave, Listen To Me Vol 1
I figured I would like this but I was hooked after the first couple of pages and I really fell in love with this interesting dramady. Created by Hiroaki Samura of Blade of the Immortal, Wave is an interesting departure as it's purely character and script driven with very little action. The art is incredibly expressive and kinetic though, creating an amazing sense of engagement with the characters as their dramas unfold.
Wave follows Minare, a waitress at a curry restaurant who doesn't hold back any of her opinions, especially when drunk. One night she laments her recent breakup to a complete stranger, unaware that he's actually a production director at a local radio station.
Mato recorded her rants and plays them as part of a show focusing on real people sharing their emotional heartbreaks. This does not go over well with Minare, although she did drunkenly give permission.
And while Mato is incredibly manipulative, he makes for a very interesting figure who starts to change Minare's life.
As the story progresses, he opens the door for her to work as a radio show host. What's great about this first volume though is its pacing, because while it's moving all of these plot points into place it doesn't rush into anything. There's a lot of back and forth as Minare's life is explored at her other job and a really rich supporting cast is developed.
The story bounces between her tenuous position at the curry restaurant, her friendship/relationship with her smitten coworker Nakahara, the ups and downs of the curry business, the development of her position at the radio station, and more. It's all thoroughly engaging as the character development is nicely embedded into all of the subplots, creating a very organic momentum to the overall story.
This is the kind of storytelling that pulls you right in, setting up a really fun slice-of-life comedy that is a little over the top but refrains just enough to not be too ridiculous. Samura maintains an odd and refreshing balance to the storytelling considering that the main character's baseless confidence, arrogance, and shamelessness could be fairly annoying. Instead it gives her an interesting range as Minare navigates the shambles of her life and romantic relationships. Every character has a lot of interesting layers to work with, and the pacing unravels those layers in such a way that always keeps you eagerly tuned into their world as it develops.
Hiroaki Samura's skills as a writer and artist are topnotch, filling the entire book with personality and charm. I have a hard time really describing the feeling you get when a creative voice just clicks in your head and you have no trouble being pulled into the story they are creating. I guess it's just having a mixture of a strong narrative flow, tight scripting, and really crisp art that just comes together in a very enjoyable package. I'm really hooked after just one volume, and would highly recommend checking it out.