May 15, 2015
Hakuji focuses on the dark and desperate love of Akiharu, a genius painter, and Seika, a high school girl who becomes a model for Akiharu’s works. While the beginning of Hakuji seems light and fluffy, there’s definitely a dark undertone quietly taking its place in the story within the very first chapter. Though a shoujo, the manga is also psychological, and honestly, most readers will not be able to zoom through this manga and completely understand everything that is going on. You have to read every word, and even then, you’d have to read in between the lines to empathize with the characters’ emotions.
The English translations were done very well, but I knew that if I could read the manga in its original language format, it’d leave an even bigger impact.
The manga focuses on the aspect of “I want to touch you, but I don’t want to taint you.” The subject of “tainting” has plenty of times been mentioned in romances, but most of the time, it involves the guy being with so many girls that he doesn’t want to taint the pure, virgin heroine (aka, he might be carrying a STD).
But Hakuji approached the subject on a different angle—a psychological angle. And it works.
Of course, in a manga about painting, I expected the emotions and atmosphere to be displayed well. And I wasn’t disappointed. What really shines are the facial expressions. You can tell when someone is frightened, desperate, aching, and just plain crazy. And the black and white schemes to show something “pure” and something “tainted” were wonderfully done. Mix the two colors and you’re left with one of Akiharu’s paintings of a tainted Seika—a dangerously beautiful artwork.
Seika isn’t really a unique character. She’s really just a typical shoujo heroine. She’s kind, she’s forgiving, and she’s selfless. But at one point, she becomes more humane (what I call humane, others will probably call a mental breakdown) and I found that I enjoyed reading about that lapse of emotion she experienced, even if it wasn’t exactly healthy for her.
Opposite to her is Akiharu, a man who stopped aging at fifteen years old. Because of his genius painting skills, he was sheltered from the rest of the world by his mother, as she didn’t want the world to taint her son’s talent. But because of that sheltered and isolated life, he begins to experience new things at extreme levels from his interactions with Seika. And this is where the story stems from: Ahikaru’s first emotional experiences.
(In replacement of Enjoyment…) Romance: 9
This is just from what I’ve interpreted it, but rather than calling their relationship with each other at the beginning as love, it’s more believable to label it as fascination or even lust. Really, the romance between the two is sort of superficial at the beginning. While Seika experiences this case of insta-love syndrome, Akiharu—though he voices that he doesn’t—sees Seika as an object to taint. To quote from the manga, “it’s like when you trample on new snow…or paint a canvas black”.
There’s some satisfaction to flattening a fluffy pile of snow under your boot or coloring a blank canvas in your color, and that’s what Akiharu is seemingly going through. Eventually though, a love forms between them in which they’re completely desperate and reliant upon each other and only each other. And I love that the manga touched upon how unhealthy this sort of relationship is, even if I’m not the type to blur the lines between reality and fantasy. When they refuse to acknowledge that they are not the only people in the world, their love takes a dangerous and suffocating turn in which they slow destroy each other by isolating themselves—and in Akiharu’s case, he took one step forward and two steps back.
To me, this sort of romance is alright and harmless in story/fantasy form. But in real life and reality, it’s unhealthy and dangerous. The fact that Hakuji touched on this gave it a bit more realism which I can appreciate.
It really did amaze me how the romance progressed through this manga. Their love, though unstable at times, was believable and became something I was satisfied with.
Hakuji isn’t a typical shoujo manga. It’s dark and gritty and even if it’s only two volumes long, a lot of emotions were experienced through the read. There’s so much to speculate and talk about and go into detail with, but then I’d be spoiling the manga for you all who haven’t read it.
So here’s what I say to those who are debating whether to read it or not:
If you’re expecting a typical, light, sort of smutty shoujo, then throw those expectations away. There are indeed intimate scenes in this manga, but they’re not there just to show some sexy time, they’re there to show desperation, passion, and discovery. If you’re coming into this manga, expecting to just read through it quickly, you’ll only find yourself disappointed and most likely confused.
Be ready to speculate and read between the lines. If not, you’re going to be in for a bumpy ride full of “I don’t get it,” “What does that mean?” and “This is stupid.”
Then again, everybody’s entitled to their own opinions.
Reviewer’s Rating: 9
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