"Translucent Syndrome. What is Translucent Syndrome? No one makes a big deal about it, but... I wonder how she feels about it...?" (Translucent vol 1 Kazuhiro Okamoto.)
About the Author/Artist
Was born in 1971 in Okayama Prefecture, Japan. In 1995, he received a manga award from the monthly magazine Afternoon. Translucent was first featured in the March 2003 edition of the magazine Comic Flapper, and it became a monthly feature due to its wide popularity. Seventy percent of Mr. Okamoto's body is a plastic model. The other thirty percent is a cherry bun. (Translucent vol 1 Kazuhiro Okamoto.)
Well this was actually the first Dark Horse manga (Japanese comic book) I purchased; the logo intrigued me as I had never read a manga from this publisher before. The cover of the manga is unusual, it features the title down the right hand side, the author down the left hand side and a picture of a teenage girl disappearing, and the rest of the front cover is pure white. This form of cover is unusual as manga artists usually try to get as much into their front cover as possible. The simplicity may represent the seriousness and innocence of the story as a whole however as it does focus on some realistic issues young teenagers could face in real life.
Shizuka Shiroyama-She is in the eighth grade at school, she is usually very quiet and introverted but she loves to act. When she appears on stage her true talent and enthusiasm shines through. Shizuka has a very rare disorder however, during specific times of the month parts of her body seem to disappear or become "Translucent". This becomes a big strain on her life as although she is a great actress directors of school plays and festivals are reluctant to give her big parts in case her disorder becomes severe on the day. There appears to be no real cause or cure for the disorder although apart from becoming translucent there are no other symptoms.
Mamoru Tadami- A young, friendly and comical young man in Shizuka's class, he soon becomes interested in Shizuka's disorder and slowly falls for her in spite of it. He is very interested in art and is constantly looking for new colours of flesh coloured make up and paint in order to help Shizuka look less "transparent" during her bad days. He is a little immature however and is obsessed with robot and car models, though his heart is in the right place and he is automatically lovable. The quote above is from him.
Keiko Haruna- A young woman who owns and works in her own glass workshop, she attends the same clinic as Shizuka but is completely "transparent". She is good friends with Shizuka but is a little easily upset she seems to be constantly arguing and breaking up with her boyfriend, but in reality she is just sensitive about her disorder.
Okouchi San- An athletic, popular and short tempered girl in Shizuka's class. She actually envies Shizuka as she hates being constantly watched and praised all the time. After Shizuka explains her disorder properly Okouchi San soon becomes good friends with both her and Mamoru.
The book reads from right to left but has been translated into English, the layout is pretty much standard with maybe 6 cells per page and is pretty regimented. Between each chapter there is an "Omake" or one page bonus manga which gives some comic relief to the more serious aspects of the story. The art and line work has a unique style yet it has a realistic aspect to it.
Why I liked it
It actually did move me, maybe it's because I had cancer when I was younger so I can directly identify with the protagonist but it is a very emotional story and the characters are all extremely well developed and each have their own unique personalities. It is an innocent and there is nothing objectionable it feels like the characters really care for each other.
For instance when Shizuka becomes totally "transparent" and feels uncomfortable attending school Mamoru tracks her down and continually visits her until she comes back to school,you really feel for the characters.
I also liked it because it deals with real life situations that young teenagers are concerned with such as shoplifting, relationships, popularity, changing of the body and illness among friends.
It costs around £6.99 but could be found cheaper online, it contains a hand drawn map of Nantara City where the characters live and contains some advertisements of other Dark Horse manga at the back of the book.