Welcome back to another manga review post!
Before I get started, I just want to say a few things. I recently received good feedback on my post Guide to Shoujo manga: Authors version and was wondering if any of you would like me to do another Guide, perhaps one on good shoujo comedy manga or good short manga (I’m referring to manga with 1-15 chapters maximum)? Just let me know in the comments and I’ll be happy to do up another guide for you guys 🙂
So I’ll be doing a one-shot manga review today because I thought that for today, I’d do something a little different from what I usually do. I don’t really read one-shots, simply because I enjoy the feeling of getting attached to characters that I like once I begin on a story. And as you know, attachment is something that is gradually cultivated through a length of time. Therefore, I prefer to read manga with many chapters so I can grow attached to them and in that sense, um grow with them hahaha! ‘Cos you know, with just one chapter in one-shots, how can you fully relate to the characters and get attached to them?
The one-shot that I’m going to review today though, made an impression on me. I learned about its existence after scrolling through my Instagram feed one day and saw it featured by one of the people I’m following. This person recommended this manga, saying that she/he doesn’t usually recommend one-shots but this was “the best of the best from all the one shots I have ever tried”. So I gave it a shot and I admit, I really enjoyed reading this manga too.
This person gives really good manga recommendations, so go ahead and follow her/him right here!
Without further ado, let’s get to the review of Toumei na Sekai!
Toumei na Sekai is written and illustrated by Fujiwara Hiro, the same author as the famous Kaichou wa Maid-sama! (I only just realised it after staring at her name, feeling that I’ve seen it before and that it looked really familiar). The genres are Drama, One Shot, Romance, School Life, Shoujo, Slice of Life, Supernatural and Tragedy.
The story starts off sombre. Students in the hallway announce that a student in their level, Takahashi Makoto had passed away. Some grieve over his death while the focus turns to our female protagonist, Kisaragi Michiru, who quietly thinks to herself about Makoto as someone whom she had always admired afar.
Michiru is a quiet girl in class who keeps to herself most of the time, resulting in several of her classmates tending to not even remember her name. As she stands by the lake thinking on what she can photograph for the school festival, she spots a familiar person among the trees – it’s the guy who always hung out with Makoto, Fujishiro. A second later, she sees that he’s not alone and recognises the second person. To her surprise, it’s Takahashi Makoto – but how can that be?
It is revealed that it’s the ghost of Makoto and after her initial shock, the three of them sit down and talk. Makoto laments that he couldn’t go to school more because of his illness and that he had to die just before his birthday. It turns out that ever since he was a kid, he was always ill and so he had set himself a goal every year that he would live to his next birthday and that because he’s bummed out that he died right before his birthday, he hasn’t been able to depart from earth yet.
At the end of school, Makoto’s friend walks home with Michiru and wonders aloud why she’s able to see Makoto. He asks if she liked him and Michiru quickly answers that it’s because he looks like someone that could come out of an artwork and only admired him. She asks him if they had always been good friends and he tells her that Makoto always had a weak heart since he was a child. Even though the doctors told him not to force himself to go to school and rest, Makoto always ignored them and insisted that there was no point in being alive if he didn’t make the best out of it. He wanted to live his life without any regrets.
Michiru goes back to talk to Makoto and he encourages her to speak her mind more to let others know how she feels. He tells her that he thinks that she’s a lot more charming that she lets on. Touched and feeling spurred on, Michiru requests that she take a photo of him and Makoto consents.
After attending his own funeral, Makoto asks Michiru of a favour. It turns out to be to write a letter to Fujishiro, to express his gratitude towards him. Later, Michiru returns to the lake to visit Makoto and tells him that she had passed his letter to Fujishiro. She goes on to say that it’d be a waste to be elsewhere while he’s still here on earth and she laments that if only she had talked to him earlier and realised her feelings sooner, her wish might have become reality.
The next day, Fujishiro hands her a letter, stating that it’s from Makoto. In the letter, he encourages her to make more friends, saying that although she’s afraid of doing so, he became her friend and he really enjoyed being with her. He ends off by saying that he would be rooting for her and just as we read the end of his letter, Michiru has ran all the way to the lake to meet him. She confesses her love for him and while crying, thanks him for the letter, promising to treasure it always. Makoto smiles in response and tells her that the awkward yet hardworking side of her is cute and that he likes it. Putting his head against hers, he thanks her and fades away.
During the school festival, Fujishiro tells Michiru that she’s changed and she admits that she enjoys what she does because it gives her a chance to talk to everyone. A few girls call out to her saying that they saw her photo display and we’re told that when she feels the urge to see Makoto, she would visit the lake and gaze at the scenery. She ends off by saying that nothing has changed since he was last there. “It’s still a transparent world.”
The first thing I would like to say about this one-shot is that although it’s a one-shot with only 43 pages (including two or three advertisement pages by the translators), it had a brilliant pacing. I felt that the story was more about Michiru growing, learning how to open up to others because of someone else and it wasn’t focused so much on her romance with Makoto, which was wonderful. Too many times, I’ve read one-shots that pushed the main protagonists together too quickly to fit the one-shot format and to seal the deal that they’re official, they often have to end up having sex. I think that format is used too much and I’m quite tired of it so reading a story like Toumei na Sekai was new and refreshing.
Michiru is a relatable character and it’s probably why I like her so much. I bet that many girls out there are just like her – quiet, shy, soft-spoken and only admire our crushes from far. This story teaches us to live our lives without regrets because we never know when something unexpected may happen and we might end up regretting things that we could’ve done but never did. On the other hand, some of us are like Makoto – well-liked by everyone, lives out our lives without regrets. However, it is unfortunate circumstances that prevent us from continuing that pattern. The regret there is that we are unable to do more things that we could have done when we could have.
Stories with lessons behind them like this one, told in a beautiful context are the ones that are special and deserve to be told and read. Therefore, I highly recommend you read Toumei na Sekai, because you won’t regret it 🙂
As usual, for assessment purposes:
Art: 10/10 (The art is the same as the one in Kaichou wa Maid-sama! so if you liked that art, you should like this one too)
Story line: 10/10 (Beautiful story line, not much depth given to the characters so you don’t feel too attached to them but still love them anyway. And the teaching of treasuring your life is wonderful)
Chapter length: 10/10 (It is perfect the way it is, because after completing it, I don’t feel like I need a sequel to this)
Wow. Look at that. Perfect score hahaha! (Y)
So that’s it for today, I’ll see you again in another review post soon. Do let me know if you have any requests on what you would like me to review next and I’ll take them into consideration. Bye!