For insecure High school student Shizuka Shiroyama life is difficult enough, what with overprotective parents, a new friendship and a budding romance with fellow student and artist Mamrou Tadami, as well as the usual growing pains of early adolescence.
The fact that she suffers from an condition that renders her invisible doesn't help matters.
Translucent, first written and drawn in 2003 by Kazukiro Okamoto, and which to date has had three volumes published in the west by Dark Horse comics, follows the life of Shizuka as she tries to live a normal life whilst having to live with peer pressure, following her dream of becoming an actress and surviving the various anxieties of life - pressure that frequently results in her condition – called “Translucent syndrome” - causing her to become invisible which further increases her insecurities, both in herself and in her friends.
The artwork for this series, although not up to the same highly polished standard as Ken Akamatsu (Love Hina) or of Kaoru Mori (Emma), still has the power to move and to entertain the reader. In particular I found that the artists ability to draw Shizuka in her various stages of invisibility but yet still keep her proportions and her effects on her environments in exact scale to be truly amazing, and worth other artists taking notes on.
And its the use of “Translucent syndrome” that marks this series out from the usual fare of shojou manga, with the condition's states used to highlight Shizuka's mental state or insecurities, although for a culture that has a low regard for those with conditions that makes anyone less than normal, the students and staff at her school seem strangely accepting and helpful towards her.
All in all I found Translucent to be an entertaining and welcome read, and I'd recommend it to anyone.