6 of ? chapters read
normally i wouldn't review something while it's still running, but i suppose i can indulge myself a bit and hopefully attract more eyes to this excellent manga at the same time.
i was already a fan of h.show from his past work, which is hopelessly different. it's best described as explicit lolicon - in other words, porn. it's not clear to me how common it is for an h manga artist to suddenly surface somewhere else plugging something so unrelated. at any rate, when i started reading prism thinking it would be like his other stuff, i was in for a ride.
hoshino megumi is the main character. people tend to call her megu. when i think about her name i come up with something like "the grace of heaven" or "stars falling upon the earth in a blessing." as we quickly discover, "grace" is not really a good word for her. she's more than a bit dense, especially when it comes to understanding others' feelings. yet she is incorrigible, and she really cares, which is enough for anyone in love.
there are strong parallels with revolutionary girl utena in subject matter. megu remembers a chance encounter by the beach long ago with a boy called hikaru ("shining light"). their day together, culminating in a kiss, remains her image of ideal love until the story begins with her first day of high school. hikaru-kun is the prince or knight in shining armor who came to sweep megu off her feet.
but it turns out that hikaru is actually female, now excessively so after her sudden reappearance as part of megu's school life. she is a sex object for heterosexual male and female students alike - the boys love her, and the girls want her wiped off the face of the earth. we learn that hikaru is accustomed to this treatment, and we therefore assume that she didn't turn into a doll overnight, but tragically little of her backstory has been revealed. in some ways prism is defined by the potential of what is left out. in other words, it is profoundly inspiring.
still, i feel as though hikaru's character is the better developed of the two mains. her ~forbidden love~ for megu causes her a great deal of the standard mix of pain and self-loathing. we see just enough of her struggle to be sold on her internal conflict. she is someone who cares about appearances and is embarrassed by her feelings. she is sure no one will find them welcome - but we are rooting for you, hikaru! viva yuri!
as the story begins, megu greets her several friends. unfortunately, with two exceptions, we hardly hear from these minor characters again. as of chapter 5, they appear to serve as little more than background decorations.
of course, it's possible that their potential contributions to the story are muted intentionally - speaking from experience, your friends tend to fade into the background when you are in love. even at the beginning of the story, megu will have no reason to go out of her way to introduce us to these people. they have presumably been around for some time and therefore are of little consequence to a girl who spends more time sleeping than socializing.
to be clear, the overall pace of the plot is just about perfect. prism is not a novel, and it's not so important that we see meaningful interaction with all of the minor players. given a set number of pages to fill, h.show begins by illustrating beautiful characters with uncommon elegance and expression, and, if there is any room left over, then perhaps he will write some text. in other words, this manga is primarily art-driven.
though the subsequent subject matter (especially the school trip and the trip to the beach) is standard, h.show manages to inject enough individualist flair to keep me interested. in particular, the second scene in the second chapter is sharply ironic. in heteronormative society, everyone, including the protagonist's own sister, assumes that a girl in love has a boy in mind. h.show exploits white blindness for full effect. his yuri is neither the bourgeois fantasies of strawberry panic nor the nonstop sexual escapades (clearly meant only for heterosexual males) of sono hanabira. in prism, the dreamer is suddenly awakened and the world behind closed eyelids remains superimposed on her largely routine and hackneyed existence. now it is up to her to reconcile the two. as vonnegut said, "people are too good for this world."
unfortunately, much of the nuance and craft of the text is lost in the translation, passable though it is. on the one hand, i probably have little room to complain - some releases of h.show's other works are far worse. but i can't help but wonder how much my experience of prism is affected when i pick out a page of the original and read it as if for the first time. futari wa pretty anon is semi-professional, but it will take more than that to bring this minimalist and highly context-driven story into english. my recommendation is simply to read this work in the original if you find that it sticks with you. if you can't read japanese, it would be an excellent way to learn.
i can't personally identify with hikaru's shame or megu's emotional tour de force following hikaru's reentry into her life, but i can identify with hikaru's strong feelings for someone of the same sex who has also utterly failed to register on the gaydar. it is enough to make one question whether the will of heaven indeed exists - i see that there is even a place for homosexual lovers and still no place for me - no label, no classification, no speed-dial for what they would call my sexual orientation. i am trapped alone.
knowing how h.show picked the titles of his past works, it seems less likely that "prism" is meant to reflect the story in any significant way, but i do see a connection nevertheless. in short, with every kind of person under the sun, love will eventually bring the right two together.
but no one said it would be easy. you have to care, and this couple will be tested.
i can't wait. read more