Hatou Gaku has a very odd friend at school named Marii Yukari. Yukari has purple eyes and a bizarre way of looking at the world: she sees all living things as robots. This has not always worked out well for Yukari, even costing her a best friend when she was younger. However, Yukari insists that the things she says she sees is true, and her vision seems to give her insight into the abilities of others.
Gaku thinks she's just weird, but she soon realizes that Yukari has unexpected talents. It seems she can fix anything, and even the police come to hear her insights. It turns out that Yukari's purple eyes are not unique in the world! However, there is one important distinction among those who see humans as other objects. Do humans appear as unimportant as objects, or do those objects appear as important as human beings?
This review contains some spoilers since you can't explain why this manga is good without falling there. I don't think that general ideas can really spoil the levels this manga reaches but if you want them to hit at full force I'd recommend that you read it and stick to it until you get how distant the start and the end are.
The main issue is that it can be divided in two very distinct parts, and even if both of them are strong the turn it takes really hurts both. The first part is a nice classroom sort-of-yuri comedy/drama. A regular girl falls in friendship
with the weirdo who sees people as robots (not in an utilitarian sense, completely literal to the booster pack and exchangeable parts). People stand in their way, problems arise, some drama, they build gunpla and eventually manage to become dear friends and even connect with other people.
The second half, though, is full blown sci-fi of the best kind. A small element is incorporated in a regular setting and it's slowly expanded until the point it breaks the universe. The escalation this second half has is incredible and it deserves to be seen just for how far it goes. I didn't exaggerate when I said it breaks the universe. It's an author exploring a premise to every possible degree, something that you can see many others completely failing to do while getting praised just for the initial concept.
The problem is that both parts don't really need the other. When I finished it I checked a couple of one-shot stories set in the initial part and I had already forgotten that this had been a happy school days gag manga. It took me to write this review to remember the drama from the past that closes that part of the story. I could only remember the last chapters, and when I first saw a recommendation for this was through a page of nearly the end. It was basically luck that I had forgotten why I was reading it and stuck for the girls in highschool beginning. I assume this comes from the original LNs and I really like the idea of the author first making a funny high school story just to hit the readers with a completely different sequel. But when you read the manga you don't have that clear distinction.
The art isn't too good although the gunpla look great and in the second part it's up to par to make the reader understand the story. Over all it feels like a subpar mangaka adapting a cult classic.
In many elements it resembles Madoka, it surprised me that the LN had come a year before that anime. They were probably responding to a cultural desire of almost-yuri + expansive concepts that affects the universe. Just like you have half a dozen Harry Potters in the couple of years before and after the book came out. In any case, I'd say that if you enjoyed Madoka you'll probably like this too.
If you're interested in really heady sci-fi and philosophical concepts, this might be worth checking out if that's all you're looking for. To say the least, Murasakiiro no Qualia is ambitious. After a somewhat slow start, it blows up into hyperspeed in directions you might not expect and never stops. The best part of the manga is seeing what insanity the author has thought up next, but in the process it loses a lot of what would make that kind of story interesting in the first place, making the whole thing feel clumsy, rushed, and full of unrealized potential.
This manga is apparently a novel adaptation,
and it shows. It's very text-heavy and ultimately prefers to tell rather than show, which hurts in the manga format. So much of the manga is spent explaining and discussing scientific theories, and in the latter half, an astonishingly small portion of the manga is spent showing what happens in the story. Instead, a few panels may represent what happens, then some textboxes will gloss over a few points and move on. It gets old really fast, and it becomes impossible to connect with the MC's struggles. Eventually, it doesn't feel like reading a story anymore--but a story about a story, and it's as dull as it sounds.
Now, if you have already read the manga and say, "But that's the point of the story!" I realize that, but that alone doesn't justify its execution. If you set out to write your story in a boring manner and succeed, the story isn't any less boring. The author/artist could have conveyed the story in a number of more interesting ways, such as expanding on ideas that could have been their own story arc but instead were only given a few panels. The MC has a lot of focus, so perhaps it would been more interesting to focus on other characters' perspectives, providing new insight on an otherwise sterile thought experiment of a manga.
The story is also pretty bad at justifying its use of these concepts, which creates plot holes. It's most easily seen in the latter half, when the author decides to take increasingly daring leaps of logic in order to keep the plot interesting, but even without that, there are times when the characters seem to know way more than they should, or they're more right than they should be. The strength of your suspension of disbelief will matter here. For most of those little instances, I don't mind that middle school students happen to know a little about some weird theories, but I would like to see more into how they came about these theories or how those theories affect their lives, rather than taking it all for granted.
But while I think most of these problems occur in the latter half, I would rate the manga even lower if it didn't have those things. The beginning part is just kind of boring without any noteworthy points. Meanwhile, though the latter half has its fair share of issues, there are some interesting ideas that are thrown around played with, and seeing the author attempt to bring those ideas together into a semi-coherent story was entertaining.
The ideas themselves are interesting, but the way they are presented is not. There aren't that many manga like this...but I would still look elsewhere for heady sci-fi stuff.
This is probably the first manga I have ever read that actually uses sequential art to its inherent advantage to the point that it may be impossible to translate faithfully to any other medium*. Most mangas, either by uncreativity, too much serialization, its close connection to anime or light novels-- SOMETHING-- are held back a bit and rarely use the same techniques that top-tier Western comic books have mastered over the years. Qualia the Purple, though? It gets it.
This manga makes heavy utilization of things like image repetition, panel layout order, and nonlinearity, the sort of stuff only sequential art can pull off, all
to tell a fast-paced huge-scope story, and it just plain works.
That may be out of necessity though that it does all of this-- Qualia the Purple is telling a MASSIVE story here, and has only 18 chapters to go from beginning to end! The first six chapters (the first volume) are a bit decompressed, giving us the characters and their interesting predicaments-- Manabu, the everygirl tomboy falling in love with her classmate; Yukari, a girl who sees all living things as machines; and Namani, the aloof and bitter former friend. These first six chapters may seem slow, but once the second volume kicks in, things rocket foward.
And that's where the manga stops being an interesting concept and becomes something truly special. It's seriously impossible to elaborate on what makes this story so good without major spoilers, and even if I were to spoil it, it wouldn't make much sense anyway.
Just know that even when this story is a mere 3 volumes long, the plot, the characters, the themes are expansive to the point that it could not possibly be adapted into a series without being something like 26 episodes long. The main problem with the story itself is definitely that it feels rushed, and yet it's only rushed in a couple minor, fleeting places; for the most part you'll feel like every single moment has exactly as much impact as it needs to. It was either 18 blazing-fast chapters or 250 pages turning this into a shounen slog; I'm glad they chose the former, for sure.
Jump into this series. Try it out. Wait-- don't just try it. Read the whole darn thing because it takes like three hours to go through it all. You will not regret it.
*Even though the comic is so steeped in visual and sequential storytelling, this was actually based on a novel! I have no clue how that novel was written and I can't imagine it was half as good unless it was much, much longer.
Murasakiiro no Qualia, or Qualia the Purple, is one of some hidden gems which are buried among a ton of manga that people haven't noticed yet. Let's just jump to the main question : "Is this gem valuable or not?"
STORY : 9/10
I would say... Yes. With a lot of confidence. Story is the main force behind the series, and it's a very definition of mixed bag. It sports a pretty interesting initial premise : "Your friend has purple eyes and a bizarre way of looking at the world: she sees all living things as robots". While in the beginning it's a lighthearted (albeit pretty mysterious)
story with some shoujo-ai tendencies, it didn't waste a lot of time to show the other sides of the story...
... And it's not only one side. It contains a lot of genre switches in interval of some chapters, and that's why reviewing this work without some spoilers is pretty difficult. One thing for sure : they are NOT lazy genre switches.
Adapted from a single volume novel, Qualia the Purple has a lot of texts, especially during some certain parts of the story when it throws a lot of science theories, mixing them into a believable sci-fi story to the point that it may be a little bit too confusing for those who are not really familiar with them. It also a lot of other elements such as philosophy, thriller, drama, comedy, mystery, supernatural, etc, and it never stop switching tastes. However, they will still glue you to the plot and make you thirst for the rest of the chapters.
ART : 8/10
It's not the book's main strength, although it's definitely not bad at all. While the artist (Tsunashima Shirou) is not really exceptional, standalone wise, it keeps conveying the story without any glaring mistakes or unfitting portrayal. It did its job well both in carefree and serious moments, so I see no point in nitpicking it any further.
CHARACTER : 9/10
It's not really a character-driven series, but it didn't lacks a set of good characters required to support the excellent plot.
The main pair of the story, Gaku and Yukari, are well done characters. Point of View of this story come mostly from Gaku's perspective, and she's pretty much doing the role which traditionally applied to the main hero of the series. She actively change the flow of the series as the main protagonist, starting from an observant of the strange happenings around her, and slowly developing into an awesome main character. Yukari, on the other side, traditionally is the main heroine and the one who drive entire Gaku's motive in the whole story. Both did their role very good, not to count that they're very cute character by themselves.
There aren't many other characters in this series, and in this case, it's a good thing! Alice and Nanami are the only character left from this series, and both have pretty big roles that affecting Gaku's and Yukari's life. They also have their great moments and overall I would say that they are great characters.
ENJOYMENT : 9/10
Genre switch is always not easy, but it bring a lot of points if done right.
Murasakiiro no Qualia is unpredictable. When you think that it have nothing left in store, it will throw another twists to you, including some very good WTF and awesome moments. It also borrow some very good plot tropes, including some well-researched theories, hypothesis and philosophies, showing that Hisamitsu Ueo (the author) did it's researches very well. It also has some dramatic moments, unexpectedly good comedies, and many other factors that will left a good impression to you.
OVERALL : 9/10
That said, I will recommend Qualia the Purple to anyone who like good story in general, since it basically have everything for everyone (story-wise). It's not fully translated at this point, but I'm very positive that it could bring a great ending that this series deserves.