A prison the size of a city. A lonesome, snowy place that houses all manner of criminals. It’s within this cage that an orphan named Chloe struggles to survive while caring for her baby brother. But when her neighbor hatches a plan to bust them out, the wheels of her fate begin to turn. This is the story of one girl’s battle to hold onto hope.
Source: Seven Seas
Simple story but done incredibly well. tl;dr at the bottom. Soloist in a cage is probably one of the best manga I've read in a long time. I binged it and enjoyed every single chapter of it. Story The premise is simple yet somewhat complex. We basically have this gigantic prison turned city (similar to arkham city). In that dark place we meet with our protagonist, a little girl taking care of her baby brother after their parents disappeared. Her neighbour's are three prisoners from the neighbouring enemy country and have been crafting an escape. When executing the plan, our protagonist goes after them but her little brother fall from the walls and had to escape without him with the promise of coming back to save him. 10 years passes and so our story goes on... As you can read it's fairly simple yet it has a very deep lore. The complexity of it comes from the very simple yet elegant moves on the story. In very few chapters we manage to understand the world, the local folklore, the politics of the prison, the motivations behind some of the prisoners and how the weak manage their lives in such a cruel place. Topics range from human trafficking, cannibalism, child labor, war, gangs, sex maniacs, religious cultist, depression, survival, family and hope. It might sounds it is condensed considering how short the Manga is (barely 20 chapters) but length of each chapter varies from 20 to 60 pages overall so each chapter feels meaningful and important. Art Art is incredible. Not only on a technical side, the way everything is crafted feels amazing. Panels are well distributed and manage to keep your attention in them long enough to catch what's being said without being filled with meaningless stuff and also the widespreads are breath taking. Each character feels important solely in their unique design that ranges from average looking soldier to kid with a fox hat, the bad guys are scary looking as they should be and the use of more simplistic panels to convey certain things feels deliberate and not lazy. The use of negative space, the use of perspective, that one reversed panel in the final chapter, the use of almost completely black panels to make action sequences, the technique used to convey flow and motion, everything has been done with such care that it feels perfect. There's only thing I can actually criticize, even though it's so good, is that it's one of those 'drawn so well its just like this other well drawn manga series'. It's good. It's incredible. But it's doesn't stand out from other really amazingly well drawn series. It's not exactly a 'recognizable style' like the one Asano has or Miura had. Hell, even tho Toriyama has a very basic style is something you can see and instantly know that it's him, same with Oda or Togashi. Characters One of my favorite parts of this story were the characters. Starting with our protagonist we instantly feel connected with her. It's the kind of person you care and cheer for. The author presents her being a good older sister taking care of her baby brother in a shitty environment and life. We feel her struggle and us, who have younger siblings, feel her in an even more emotional level. The rest of the characters, even though have a short incidence in the story, helps us understand everything going on this world. From the old man of the junkyard, the three soldiers from the first chapter, that kid with the eyepatch, the guy with the hood and the dogsled, to that crazy tattooed criminal in the early parts. They all tell us how this world works with words, looks or where they come from. Even the tattoos the guy from the last arc has tell us everything about him that he doesn't explicitly say. From his obsession with a particular child to his particular worldview. Every character plays an important role on this story. Conclusions and tl;dr Soloist in a cage is rather short in terms of chapters but it doesn't feel like a short story at all. It has all the basic elements (complex characters, complex morals, complex world, engaging story) to make a masterpiece. Visually is incredible and pleasing but it's a little forgettable because it's missing its own identity. It also has a satisfying conclusion, a tense climax and a beautiful protagonist you can Simp. It's one of those series I would recommend to everyone. Thanks for reading.
Soloist in the Prison Review. A girls desire to do anything to protect her baby brother. The series is set in a prison that continuously grows to the point it has become a city. With a population of 500,000. Our FMC takes care of her little brother in a lawless area. He is the only reason she feels contempt with her life right now. However one night with the help of her benefactor she tries to escape but her baby brother falls and ends up staying behind. 10 years later, she has been trained (somewhat) and will go back to the hell of a prison in hopes to find her little brother. Apparently this series went on hiatus and there is a quality shift. But I wasn't really able to tell tbh. Like the manga was ending and it was wrapping up but like that type of decline is pretty common and I wouldn't like place it due to the hiatus, though full transparency I don't know when the hiatus happened exactly, so the ending part might not have anything to do with it. The art of this series is phenomenal. I don't think anyone will disagree that the art is spectacular. Its detailed, exceptionally well drawn and really drags the reader in. Sadly though the Art really is the best part about the series. Not to say that's necessarily a bad thing but It is quite disappointing how much the quality lacks in other regards. The characters aren't really dramatic or have the charisma to make me feel personally invested. Yeah I want to see the FMC save her little brother but I don't care about it personally. I want her to save her little brother so I can see the next part about the story not because not because I want to see the annoying little shit be rescued. There is a constant emotional distance that the author wasn't able to shorten in 18 chapters. I honestly had the same feeling when the faceless guy did cool ass shit at the end. The action of this series is also dramatic. Like Fire punch we don't actually see majority of the fight (Except for one) we just a panel that basically deals with the entire thing and then the after effect. Considering they were just faceless mobs I do sorta get the point. But at the same time it kinda gets repetitive. The series also has a snot problem. Its very distracting when someone is crying and there is just a gallon of snot running down there nose. I get that its meant to be more realistic but for one thing the series in itself is not realistic, 2ndly the characters themselves don't have a strong emotional connection with the reader, 3rdly its kinda gross. Despite my complaints I did enjoy this series. I don't think its anything special. But not every series can be some profound masterpiece. Being short as it is, there is no filler. Though the quality in itself could be better. I don't think there is a lot to complain about here. TLDR: Enjoyable enough. 6/10
SPOILER-FREE REVIEW PLOT, SETTING & CHARACTERS Soloist in A Cage is unfortunately a very unknown manga that deserves much more love and praise.I discovered it by chance from a small youtube channel, who often recommends unknown manga; mostly horror manga, but also some others.I just wished it was longer since I felt it has been finished too fast, although the pacing is alright and the ending is really touching. The setting of this manga is Prison City, a very bleak underground world, where criminals get deported into. Most people, who are eventually forced to live there, didn't commit serious crimes, and they lived in the underground city for so long, they got children on their own.The manga shows that most of these people aren't bad by nature, but the environment they live in makes them apathic and hardened. There is all kind of cruelty down there, but we also see support and love for one another. One night the protagonist Chloe, a young girl back then, tries to escape with her little brother, but loses him on the way out.Chloe herself is the most important element in this manga to me. She's very caring towards others and overall a kind and even quite mild-mannered girl.But she also goes great lengths to get her little brother back, including murdering on the battlefield of enemies standing in her way and is ruthless in battles. How the manga portrays Chloe slowly losing her humanity and struggles in a visual, symbolic way, is very heart-wrenching, but also visually beautiful to look at. I let you see for yourself how this ends and if she loses herself in the blodshed on the battlefield and can tell I loved her a lot as a main character, because there is this humanity to her and she reacts so human and believable to the events around her.It's quite amazing how much development she got in just 20 chapters. ART STYLE The art itself is absolutely gorgous. It's easily in my top 10 art styles I've seen there in any manga and sometimes you would just stop and take some time to take in its beauty and impression it has on you. It's emotionally touching and I just love to look at these pages for the art itself as well. I want to include pictures of panels, so you can understand where I'm coming from.There are a lot of manga with stunning art out there, but this one is even more memorable to me than some others (that undoubtly had great art too, don't get me wrong here). I highly recommend you this short, beautiful dystopian manga for all of it; the plot, the setting, Chloe as protagonist, and the art.
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