[Availability] - |Fully Translated/Scanlated on several fan-translation/scanlation platforms|
Past Future is one of those stories that deals with potentially delicate subject matter haphazardly. Were you to glance over at the genres listed on Past Future's MAL page, you'd find 'comedy' listed, but not 'drama'. For the first two-thirds of Past Future, this genre list would be wholly accurate, but in the last third, the manga changes quite drastically in tone and attempts to clean up the mess it made as quickly as possible before its serialization is cut. Allow me to warn readers now: Past Future is not a full
story. It isn't even half a story. At best, it is a shallow, poorly developed slice of what could have been, further cheapened by shoddy drama and a dumb resolution. For whatever reason--whether it was due to bad ratings, the mangaka getting bored of their series, or a combination of both--Past Future had its run cut short before its narrative and characters could really shine. Past Future is, unfortunately enough, chock-full of botched potential.
However, things aren't all bad with Past Future. It could have been a lot better in many different areas, but that doesn't mean what could have been improved on was bad to begin with. If we isolate the first two-thirds of this series, we get a light-hearted, comedic take on cross-dressing. It even goes so far as to explore some interesting dilemmas regarding cross-dressing and the impact it has on both the cross-dresser and those around them. It touches on a variety of issues that have to do with cross-dressing but barely scratches the surface. However, this is perfectly fine. Past Future's content isn't meant to be over-bearing--it's designed to have readers form their own interpretations and opinions regarding these issues by only touching on them. It's meant to bring said issues to the attention of readers, not lecture you and tell you what you should think. It was also genuinely funny, too. For the first two-thirds of the series, Past Future managed to convey the vast majority of its underlying themes quite effectively. However, Past Future did suffer in one particular area from the beginning.
Past Future's characters aren't very deep and they aren't very complex, either. Perhaps this was intentional and they were meant to serve more as caricatures to carry the manga's themes, but that can only carry the series so far. With a potentially sensitive issue like cross-dressing, if the manga wants to treat it with any kind of weight, it needs to have characters that we can relate to, understand and care about. Outside of the protagonist, the series doesn't really try that hard--at least, not until the last third, where it manages to almost entirely butcher the series. Outside of the protagonist, we have the sister character and her friend. Despite having less screen time, her friend manages to be one of the better characters in this series because of the way her morals are portrayed and explored.
The sister remains largely static until the last quarter, where we finally see her true colours emerge. It turns out that she's actually an incredibly shallow person, managing to completely destroy everything this series should have been with a few lines in the last chapter. We can't care about her, but we do understand her--unfortunately, there isn't a whole lot to her character. We might be able to relate to some of her actions, but she isn't developed nearly enough for her to carry the series' themes on her back at the last moment. The way the series handled her character was poor, to say the least. The protagonist carried a majority of the themes this series stood for, while his sister carried a few themes of her own. Unfortunately, the series tried to have her juggle all these themes really fast, but she ended up slipping on her ass and dropping all of these key themes. We could only watch as they shattered one by one as panel after panel flew by.
Finally, we have the protagonist himself. He's at the core of this manga's underlying themes -- he's the cross-dresser. In spite of everything else this series ruined, one thing that remained consistently solid was the quality of the protagonist's portrayal. We can understand and care about him not only as a character but as a representation of a group of people. We may not be able to relate to him, but it wouldn't be all that difficult to try. The very depths of his character aren't touched on, but this series hits all the right notes in terms of portraying all the right nuances and gradually developing his character throughout the chapters. In spite of the manga's very short run, his development was handled quite well -- that is, of course, until the last chapter flew by.
Ultimately, however, even that chapter didn't hurt his character enough to leave a scar. All in all, he was a very solid character, to the point whre I'd even go so far as to say that he was the cornerstone of Past Future. He's an incredibly likable character which is why it's so easy to care about him. As time goes on, you might even find yourself caring about the world and other characters, too, because of the way they interact with him. Of course, this sensation doesn't last for long due to the manga's extremely short length.
Despite all I've said, I did enjoy this series a fair bit. At least the first two-thirds, anyway. I liked the series enough to finish it even after it started throwing in cheap drama and started to slowly chip away at the show's carefully-crafted themes. I wouldn't say that it's one of my favourites and it's unlikely that I'll be re-reading it at any point in the future, but it was captivating enough for me to read all of it in only a few hours. It was, all things considered, quite an enjoyable read. I do wish that it didn't have to end the way it did, but it's too late to change things now. There were plenty of worse ways to waste the proceeding hours before my ever-encroaching English exam.
Past Future is hardly the best gender-bender or cross-dressing manga out there, but it's hardly the worst, either. It has some surprisingly good comedy peppered throughout the series to contrast with the underlying dark nature of the issues it touches on. Taken by its first two-thirds, this series serves well as a light-hearted exploration of the issues surrounding cross-dressing. Taken as a whole, this series is a good example of how to completely butcher your themes in addition to completely disregarding any delicacy and finesse in terms of handling the narrative and characters. When all is said and done, however, I reluctantly recommend the first two-thirds of the series to fans of the genre that don't mind a light-hearted (and perhaps faint-hearted) and comedic take on cross-dressing. Even if you aren't all that interested in cross-dressing as a genre, it's plenty good for the comedic value alone in the initial chapters. The first two-thirds of the series were relatively solid -- it was only the last third that managed to strip away everything that made the series so good in the first place.
Bottom line: Appreciate it for its comedic value, but don't trust its pitifully misguided attempts at drama.
Past future was a good manga to read. I was sad that it a ended, cause I wanted to read more for some reason. It was hilarious, the sister would always get mad at her older brother when he cross dress and even gets advice from people from the internet who he don't even know. But they try to help him in the story and it keeps getting funny. I recommended people who likes comedy and gender bend, cause it was worth reading to me and the main character is sooo cute that he was able to pull of the cross dressing as a girl.