Sunday, May 13, 2012

Manga Review: Prism volume 1

Prism is a dark horse hit for me. Its initial premise is eye-rolling, but once its real story kicks, in it turns out to be a lovely, very realistic look at two girls in love.

As a kid, Prism's protagonist Megumi spent half a day at the beach with a boy named Hikaru. She developed a crush on him, but never had any contact with him after that. All the way through middle school, she never fell for anyone else because she remained head-over-heels for Hikaru. The eye-rolling notion for me is that someone would stay hung up for that long on someone they spent half a day with as a kid. It would be more believable if, say, they had been childhood friends and separated when one of them moved. I can easily see a little girl who presents as a boy having a crush on (and sharing a kiss with) a girl she likes. (Btw, the creator of the excellent Naissance des Pieuvres- released in English as Water Lilies- recently created a movie with a similar premise. I haven't seen it yet.) Moving on...

Now starting her first year of high school, Megumi swears that she's over Hikaru and is going to find new love. After she walks to school with her friend Erika, a girl who she doesn't know walks up to her and hugs her.

The girl introduces herself in class as Hikaru. ^_^ Hikaru and Megumi hit it off as friends, but Hikaru's gender reveal makes Megumi wonder about the kiss they shared as kids in a new light. When Megumi jokes to Hikaru that her crush was always hopeless since Hikaru's really a girl, Hikaru laughs it off, but it's obvious that she is hurt. She drops some hints that she is gay and interested in Megumi, but Megumi doesn't connect the dots until Hikaru kisses her when they are alone.

Hikaru passes the kiss off as a joke, but Megumi knows that Hikaru is lying and eventually figures out that she likes Hikaru the same way. I want to send Prism's author flowers for making Megumi and Hikaru become a couple by the end of chapter 2 without making the story feel rushed. I also love that the next two chapters focus on Megumi coming out to her friends, who support her and Hikaru. And! Megumi's friend Erika is only bothered by the idea of Megumi not telling her about her relationship. Adding icing to the cake, Megumi has the best teacher ever- laid-back, alcohol-swigging Ogachin, who gives Megumi some solid advice about coming out and her relationship with Hikaru, since Ogachin is bisexual and has dated women before. We also get a brief chapter focusing on Megumi's friends Erika and Hirose, following her coming out to them. Folks who are familiar with Japanese lesbian magazines will appreciate the appearance of an issue of Carmilla, which Hirose covertly buys. (Carmilla actually has terrible content. lol Hirose needs to look up Anise.)

This volume also includes two chapters highlighting Hikaru and Megumi's families. Megumi meets Hikaru's three brothers when she visits Hikaru's house for dinner and a sleepover. (Hikaru's parents are usually away on business trips.) Hikaru isn't out to her family yet, but the way that her brothers are written, it's clear we are meant to believe that they would be cool with her sexual orientation. When Hikaru visits Megumi's house for a sleepover, Megumi's little sister figures out who the "Hikaru" who she keeps hearing Megumi having lovey-dovey phone conversations with is. Her reaction is great- she wonders what Hikaru sees in her sister. She doesn't tell Megumi that she knows, but she still hopes they stay happy together.

So yeah, I'm loving this series. It especially takes off for me after Hikaru and Megumi become a couple. They have great chemistry, and their interaction together- whether they're kissing or talking or whatever- feels real. As I've already mentioned, I really like that they reveal their feelings to each other early on and that they come out to some of the people they know shortly after that. So far, everyone in this series is likeable and pretty realistic. Megumi and her friends act like...well, a believable group of friends, light snarkiness and all. Megumi and Hikaru's interaction with their siblings also rings true- as nearly as I can tell as an only child. lol I especially like how Hikaru's brothers rib poor Hikaru in front of Megumi. But of course, the real reason we're reading is Hikaru and Megumi, who go together like cookies and cream.

If you're looking for realistic yuri, yuri that doesn't shy from bringing up sexual identity, or yuri series starring leads who become a couple early on, I highly recommend Prism.

And I'm really looking forward to seeing volume 2 published, since it will be 100% composed of Megumi and Hikaru as a couple. ^_^

Story: B+
Art: Starts at a B+, moves into A- territory. The characters' facial expressions and hair are especially well-rendered.
Overall: A-


Anonymous said...

unfortunately, Prism seems like it's going to on a hiatus for awhile

One can only pray that they will at least allow the release of the second issue... It's a real pity because it's really such a great series...

Katherine Hanson said...

@Anon- I saw that. But thanks for pointing it out!

It is upsetting. I'm caught between wanting to see this series finish because I fell in love with it before the tracing accusation surfaced, and being disappointed that its creator would resort to plagiarizing photos. Going by the image comparisons, I think it's safe to say that he did. Like you, I'm waiting to see what comes of it.