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Manga Review

Sweetly affecting. Two words that my jaded self haven't seen in quite awhile, forget about feeling them. There are many mangas out these days that try to be visually or even story-wise spectacular or different or strange to get people to notice them and like them but they forget that what makes a manga truly special deep down is its affects. For a manga, truthfully anything, to reach a level of being special, it has to be able to affect you deep in your soul and you can cry with it, love with it, laugh with it.

Translucent (manga)Just like its main character, Shizuka Shiroyama, Translucent is quiet, timid, and unassuming in everything. Between its soft natural colors to its seemingly unremarkable drawing, it pops out only because of its ordinariness in a world where everything seems to be extraordinary and unique. The story itself is not particularly unique where our heroine is afflicted with a strange illness, the Translucent Sydrome, which bounces her to and fro cycles of looking like a normal girl to being partially invisible to being completely invisible. No matter how sad or how insignificant she feels, she accepts her fate and doesn't try to fight something that even nature has decided to not notice. As she had said, "Even the sun doesnít notice me. I donít even have a shadow." In a world that is so superfluously based on looks and especially because she is a teenager, looks are that much more important, Shizuka knows that because of her illness, she will not have anything for anyone to look at and therefore she is destined to be invisible to the world in every sense of that word.

Translucent (manga)Luckily for Shizuka, she has Mamoru Tadami by her side. Constantly found with his head in the clouds, Mamoru is Shizukaís knight. He is the sole person that has never allowed her illness to define who Shizuka really is to him. As an artist, perhaps it is his ability to "see" things that are not visually really there to begin with or his ability to create solid tangible things from simply what he feels, Shizuka's invisibility is merely an inconvenience. Instead of mourning with her and her fellow classmates about how sad it is that no one can see certain parts of her sometimes, Tadami-kun thinks it is about the coolest thing to be able to make a model airplane look like itís flying on its own in thin air. It has even given him the idea of working with Shizuka to fake a UFO sighting.

Translucent (manga)With Mamoru's strange disregard for her illness, Shizuka has found the encouragement that she needs to lead a life that is closer to being normal. She would like to run around and have fun with other kids? Mamoru and his various games can make everyone forget reality and have fun. Shizuka would like to feel noticed and missed? Mamoru will be there to visit her at home and remind her that everyone at school misses her. He, above everyone else, remembers how she looks like whether she is visible or invisible. She is afraid to pursue her dreams? Her father is afraid to allow her to become disappointed by reality? Mamoru is there to give her the courage and extra push she needs to live her life the fullest. He is there to talk some sense into her father and if need be he will beat some sense into her father. Since Mamoru is an eighth grader and Shizuka's father is a middle aged office worker, chances of Mamoru winning are next to nil but his ardor, stubbornness, and good-heartedness must count for something.

Can Shizuka make it through junior high or even high school without becoming invisible forever to everyone? And if she does, will Mamoru's stubbornness and ardor remain unchanged to support through anything and everything? Quietly, allow Translucent to draw you in with its ordinariness and charm your soul with its timid sweetness.

Reviewed by Carolyn Whu, March 2008

Below: Panels from the manga Translucent.

Translucent (manga)

Translucent (the manga)

Translucent Website Links:

Translucent Official Homepage at Dark Horse Comics

Translucent (manga) entry at Anime News Network

Wikipedia Entry for Translucent

Below: Panels from the manga Translucent.

Translucent (manga)

Translucent (manga)

Translucent (manga)

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