Comic Book Spotlight of the Day: Sunny vol. 1 – May 2013 (Viz Media)

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TITLE: Sunny vol. 1

RELEASE: May 2013 (U.S. Release)

COMPANY: Viz Media

Story & Art by Taiyo Matsumoto

From mangaka Taiyo Matsumoto comes his manga series “Sunny”.  Matsumoto is well known for his work in manga series such as “Tekkonkinkreet”, “GoGo Monster”, “Ping Pong” and “Number Five”.

For the orphans of the Star Kids Home, the children who dream about having a family after being abandoned by their own parents or lost their parents, can only hope that life will become much happier. But for now, all they have is each other.

“Sunny” is a series set during the 1970s and revolves around a group of children and teenagers who live at an orphanage and each chapter deals with a children’s life, with other orphans and also the heartbreak they endure of being left by their parents.

The title of the manga series is derived from a broken down Nissan Sunny 1200 in front of the orphanage which the children use as a getaway vehicle for imaginary adventures, a clubhouse and more.

The first volume focuses on the children at Star Kids Home.   A new child has arrived and his name is Sei.  Sei wants to be with his parents and is not happy that they are leaving him at the orphanage.

At the orphanage, he meets other kids his own age such as the rambuctious and rebellious child (with white hair) Haruo; the curly haired (often seen with snot dripping out of his nose) Junsuke; the girl Megumu (that Haruo likes and often he makes her cry); Kiko, who likes Haruo; Kenji, one of the oldest orphans and more.

A heartfelt volume of “Sunny” as the orphans of Star Kids Home begin to miss their own families and wonder how long they will be stuck at an orphanage.

The first volume introduces us to characters, primarily those who live and work at the orphanage. Showing us how Sei was dropped off at the orphanage and now trying to fit in with the others. Junsuke’s little brother goes missing after trying to find four-leaf clovers. A former orphan named Makio visiting the orphanage. One of the older orphans, Kenji feeling down after trying to look for his parents.

And for the most part, the whole manga features stories that are heartfelt, slice-of-life type of storylines.

If there is one aspect of Japanese culture that many westerners never get to see in manga or anime, it’s life of orphans at a Japanese orphanage and the emotions they feel and the differences between new children at the orphanage and those who have been there for quite some time.

With Taiyo Matsumoto’s manga “Sunny”, the manga gives readers a chance to read a slice-of-life manga series of various children of different ages living at an orphanage and the challenges they have. May it be in school, with other children and also the feeling of one’s self-worth after being left behind by their family.

The artwork of Taiyo Matsumoto is always interesting to see. His style is unique and some girls, the way he makes those rosy cheeks look like uneven smudges that change from page to page, but it’s the uniqueness that I have come to appreciate about Matsumoto’s artwork. But of course, it’s his stories that are captivating and while “Sunny” is a slice-of-life manga series, it’s a fresh manga style to have released in the US, something different and unique.

As with the last volume, Viz Media is giving “Sunny” the Viz Signature hardback treatment for each release, thus the series does cost a bit more than a standard manga series.

Overall, “Sunny” is an innocent, real slice-of-life manga series about children at an orphanage and the experiences (happy and sad) that each have to deal with in their young lives. You don’t really find these type of manga in the U.S…. So, for anyone wanting some real, different or unique, then I definitely recommend Taiyo Matsuoto’s “Sunny”.


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