Nov 24, 2021
New Normal was something I discovered while gliding through the seemingly infinite database of pirated manga on my phone. Set in post-pandemic Tokyo, it’s a slightly different coming-of-age story. After not seeing each others’ faces for so long, masks have become an essential part of one’s attire. An era where the glories of unmasked freedom can only be felt through the movies of yesterday. It’s a weird concept that glorifies a little piece of fabric. But thinking about how society has perceived our bodies throughout history, and especially in this country, it isn’t too alien of a concept.
The illustrations on this manga are simply stunning
and perfectly encapsulate the pure human emotion in this era of censorship. The face masks are a major contributor to this whole aesthetic, displaying a diverse selection within the few available chapters. It helps to draw attention to the artistic detailing on the eyes, something the mangaka truly excels in. But, it also adds an element of tension to these key objects, creating an aura of discomfort around it. In a particular scene set in an abandoned park, Hata and Natsuki let loose and take off their masks. As their coverings are removed, it seems that all this tension has just gushed over the fresh air of a forgotten Tokyo. When Natsuki no longer has to experience these feelings through pre-pandemic filmography, you can see how relaxed and subsequently pretty her facial features have become. To a reader, these maskless scenes create some of the most memorable imagery from the manga, often displayed in the form of sizeable full-pages.
New Normal was dropped after 9 chapters by their ex-publisher recently, so this may not turn out to be as great as I make it sound. It doesn’t have the same philosophical expressiveness of Chainsaw Man, nor the cultural impact of One Piece. But it does one thing brilliantly. It relates very well to this current generation of sexually oppressed and equally horny teens. So you should try it out!
(via @kaijunoyume on Instagram)
Reviewer’s Rating: 10
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