A very honest & realistic story.
Wow, I really loved this so far!
Tsugumi is 26 and works with an interior design company. She attends a company party one evening and ends up running into her first crush and old friend, Itsuki. They spend the evening reconnecting but as Itsuki goes to leave for the evening, it is revealed that he was in a car accident in college and is now paralyzed from the waist down. Tsugumi continually reaches out to him to hang out and get to know one another again, slowly falling for him more and more as her old crush resurfaces. As Itsuki faces medical issues Tsugumi questions whether she has a strong enough constitution to continue moving forward with her feelings for him, or if loving someone with a disability would be too much for her mental health and general lifestyle.
I thought this was a really well-done manga that shines a light on the role disability plays in romance. It’s not often you find many romances (manga or prose) that tackle talking about this in a non-judgmental way, though thankfully more are being published. This manga read very honestly and I could see and understand the points of view from all the characters, not just our main couple. Itsuki is trying to put on a brave face but has resigned himself to being alone forever, whereas Tsugumi believes in the power of love but not so much in herself and her ability to navigate taking care of someone at their worst. It’s a real thing people have to deal with and I think questioning things like that is very natural in a relationship. Tsugumi is also a bit naïve to the world and the way it treats disabled people, so some of the scenes within the volume open her eyes in a new way to how she and others treat people without thinking. I enjoyed that this actually felt like a romance taking place between people in their 20s, as most manga skews younger or even when the characters are supposed to be older, gives them a forced sense of innocence that makes it hard to relate to. This story, while Tsugumi isn’t entirely aware of the world around her, depicts that in a more realistic way where she is open and willing to learn and have new experiences rather than constantly being shocked about what is happening around her. The shock is still there of course, as it would be for anyone, but rather than droning on and on in a will they/won’t they they sort of situation, Tsugumi understands and listens when she makes a mistake and tries to better herself, which I thought was nicely done.
As an able-bodied person, I can’t comment about how realistically it portrayed life for someone in a wheelchair, but I thought the whole overall volume was done well and made me interested in continuing to read the series.
Title: Perfect World (Vol. 1)
Author: Rie Aruga
The World’s Greatest First Love by Shungiku Nakamura
Wotakoi by Fujita
Happy Marriage? By Maki Enjoji
Sweat and Soap by Kinetsu Yamada
Doughnuts Under a Crescent Moon by Kodama Naoko