Jun 16, 2015
blue_bee29 (All reviews)
In a world where everything can get repetitive, there would be just one random day when you will meet someone very odd and obscure who will surprisingly and astoundingly change your life and thinking as a person. Basically, this is the premise of Amano Shuninta’s “Philosophia.”

Having previously read Shuninta-sensei’s sexy titles namely “Sweet Guilty Love Bites” and “Watashi no Sekai wo Kousei suru Chiri no You na Nani ka,” I was settled to give this manga a try with a preconceived notion of delicious playfulness as content. However, reading “Philosophia” has caught me off-guard. I should have known better with such a sober-sounding title! “Philosophia” is serious in theme, mature in story, cryptic in characterization, dark in twists, depressing in secrets, while bitter-sweet in the end.

The story is nothing new, Girl A meets Girl B. Girl A is diligent and Girl B is unreliable. Like in most stories, the question of “What will happen to them?” is what will drive one to continue reading. I must say the pacing is firm and steady. And to think this is only 6 chapters! Furthermore, the great thing about this, which is common in Shuninta-sensei’s work, is that she doesn’t use the common tropes. However, for yuri fans looking for deviant and sexy stories: Alas, there are no sexy encounters, nor amusing squabbles here. In fact, this manga is very dialogue-driven and full of Ai-chan’s inner thoughts. There is barely anything that is service-y, save for one scene. Nonetheless, I must say that despite all this, I have found this astonishingly novel and fresh.

The art is, well, very Shuninta. As a mangaka, she has established a very distinct art style and thus her lovely sketchy art is recognizable to many of her readers. However, this was one of her earlier works and was originally a doujinshi, thus it’s not that polished in details like backgrounds and seasons. There were even two or three pages that have empty panels; however, some empty spaces are there for dramatization. Perhaps the art may seem lacking for first time readers of Shuninta-sensei’s work, the story and pace will compensate such inadequacy.

The driving factor to read this work is the characters. There are two protagonists are university students: Ai (Love=Sophia), the stubborn and studious beauty, and Tomo (Wisdom=Philo), the coffee-loving apathetic bookworm. Ai-chan, who grew nonchalant to people’s compliments of her beauty, decided to dedicate in her studies so she can be independent. To tell the truth, she was a bit boring to me at first, but later on turned out to be the character that underwent the most and drastic change in a very satisfying pace. Her growing affection for Tomo-san was nothing fluffy, but steady, genuine, and realistic.

On the other hand, Tomo-san is a mystery; she is emancipated at best, self-destructive at worst. A self-proclaimed seeker of knowledge, she holds dark secrets. These secrets, a sudden twist in the story, are the reasons of her actions and demeanour. Tomo-san is a riddle and naturally focused my attention to her, but I was disappointed; there is not enough depth into her character although she was presented as such. I have felt that her secrets, while apprehensible, are insufficient reasons for her outlook and indifferent and bored temperament; I expected more. Or perhaps the author wanted her to be that—an enigma. Nevertheless, she is a realistic character that reminds readers that we can never know someone fully.

Overall, “Philosophia” is a pleasant read: a sober-yet-memorable gem of a story. Traditional yuri fans of lovey-dovey or fluffy stories may be sorely disappointed or even back away, but those who tire from the predictable path of GL stories, or even those from the non-yuri genre, then this manga might offer one a balanced indulgence of drama, maturity and mystery.