A GIRL ON THE SHORE, a graphic narrative by Inio Asano, reviewed by Nathan Chazan • Cleaver Magazine
A GIRL ON THE SHORE by Inio Asano Vertical Comics, 406 pages reviewed by Nathan Chazan In a 2013 interview, Inio Asano cites learning the phrase “chunibyo” as an inspiration for A Girl on the Shore. A Japanese meme, “chunibyo” translates roughly to “Eighth Grader Syndrome,” and describes an early adolescent’s tendency to aspire to and imitate the adult behaviors that she is too young to understand. The comic, a direct and emotionally intense story about two early adolescents who enter a sexual relationship, functions as a parable of “chunibyo,” exploring this youthful desire to seem more mature as well as its consequences. In contrast to this motif, A Girl on the Shore is a deceptively mature accomplishment, employing the techniques of commercial manga to the greatest level of sophistication to convey the searing anxieties of adolescence. This is a graphic novel about two teenagers, Koume and Keisuke, who decide to start having sex when they are very young. Both are haunted by recent trauma: Koume by her rape at the hands of a popular kid named Misaki, and Keisuke by the absence of his deceased older brother. The two youths enter this relationship believing it will be strictly sexual, an escape from normal life without emotional baggage. However, no relationship can really be casual at such a young age, and they soon must deal with the feelings brought out by their connection. It’s a relationship that is never romantic until its very end, a relationship Asano describes as “a love story in reverse.”