Hello, and welcome to this week’s manga review of my series I Read It So You Don’t Have To. In this segment, I’m going to review Shonen Jump titles that are fully available on Manga Plus, where you can read official releases for free. I aim to cover whatever fits this criterion in their library, whether I enjoyed it or not. I might compare the titles to well-known series, but it’s to give the reader a taste rather than pitting them against each other. The reviews will contain light spoilers. Hope you can come across a title you might enjoy.

Title: Soloist in a Cage
Genre: Action, Drama, Psychological, Seinen
Author & Artist: Moriya Shiro
Release Year: 2018
Status: Ongoing, has 14 chapters.

Imagine a prison with more than 500,000 residents living in it, and the facility expanded so much that it’s considered a ‘lawless city’. Chloe is a 7-year-old resident of the place and she hasn’t stepped out of her flat once in fear of endangering both her and her baby brother Locke’s lives. Their parents took off around half a year ago, and ever since then, a neighbor is leaving food at their door. This neighbor is a man named Ross Sandberg; he and his two friends are considered some of the most terrifying prisoners and are hired to reconstruct the hole in the wall that’s encircling the city. This is a one-time chance for these three to run away and the plans go smoothly until Ross gets a thank you note from Chloe and finds out that the residents of the flat are two little children. 

With immense guilt that they cannot take two very young children with them since the escape plans have no room for parameters that can easily go out of control, Ross leaves food at the kids’ door one last time and the three finally arrive a the wall construction. The moment when Ross is about to gather the rope he used to climb on the wall, he feels someone tugging at it; it’s Chloe with Locke in a swaddle on her back. 

What works in Soloist in a Cage?

  • If you’re into a more realistic approach in character and background designs, then this manga is tailored for you! The immense detail and elaborate designs are jaw-dropping. Fight scenes aren’t as ‘animated’ compared to other shounen series I’ve read/reviewed. However, even if they look more like stills, they are beautiful. 
  • There are certain panels that the composition was so good it left me speechless. I probably sound like some superficial person who’s only praising its appearance but I had to remind myself every page that a human being drew all of this in a week. It’s impressive even if you have assistants who help you. I started reading this series solely based on the cover art, and it only gets better when you keep turning the pages.
Really loved these guards’ designs!

What doesn’t work in Soloist in a Cage?

  • I haven’t reviewed much in this segment, but I hardly think I’ll find another title that’ll be this hard to read and write about. It’s one of those “MC is on their way to reunite with their long lost lover but they get into a car accident and turn blind, then their lover turns out to be their sibling,” kind of story, and I have a distaste towards such melodramatic narratives. Turkish people live on this kind of catharsis in ‘arabesque’ movies, dramas, or music, and you know how it is. Doesn’t matter you like it or not, but these products of culture are there, and you grow up with them. In the first chapter during the escape, Chloe tries to hold onto his little brother but of course, one of the guards shoots her arm, yet she still holds on tight. But of course, the fabric she’s holding on gets ripped and the brother falls down the wall. Ross manages to save Chloe BUT OF COURSE, she comes back several years later to find her brother. The chapters I’ve read are filled with such themes and to me, rather than moving, these just seem… meaningless. The bad people are evil with capital letters, good people are angels, nothing seems nuanced or remotely interesting. As I’ve said, I know the melodramatic structure is supposed to be simplistic and less nuanced in this sense and I understand that these stories might provide catharsis to some, but not to me. 
  • Not a big one, but still kind of a spoiler, apparently Chloe can kill anyone ‘when the older sister in her appears’. I had to reread that a couple of times. I understand Ross means that she becomes single-minded and doesn’t even blink when killing tons of prisoners, maybe I’d be alright with it if was treated as a one-time thing. But it’s like a switch, and she becomes this older sister whenever she is to fight. This is… simply absurd that I opted out of going into more detail. 

Overall, although Soloist in a Cage was solid on paper, it’s one beautiful manga to look at, but what it tried to deliver was certainly not to my taste. I was torn between dropping and continuing, hoping that the chain of bad events would die down after the first 2 or 3 chapters. Well, they didn’t and I could only reach to 6th chapter. 

While the great chunk of my review was negative, and negative comments usually stick with us more than positives, I’m sure this manga will be to some of your’s taste. I can’t bring myself to say that it’s bad, because that’s far from it. It’s just not for me. I hope my review was informative or was able to bring something you might enjoy to your attention. My next review will be on Dricam!! by Chiba Yu. Thanks for giving it a read, and see you! 

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