September 28, 2008
by: Adam Beck
This manga isn’t turning invisible anytime soon.
Manga Description: THE INVISIBLE GIRL
Kasumi is a special girl–and not just because she’s a super-cute high schooler with a heart of gold. She has a major secret: She can turn invisible when she holds her breath. But when she transfers to an elite private school, it gets harder to keep her superpowers secret, especially when she catches the eye of the handsome student-body president, Ryuuki, and becomes the target of his number one fan, mean girl extraordinaire Reina. Can Kasumi keep hiding who she really is?
Content: (This section may contain spoilers)
I was halfway through before I realized that Kasumi is actually an OEL manga (for anyone who doesn’t know what that means, it’s an abbreviation of Original English Language manga). Written by Surt Lim and with artwork by Hirofumi Sugimoto (especially that appealing cover), I’ll admit I didn’t have very high hopes coming into the series. hankfully, I was wrong It may not be the best thing you will ever read, and it does move a little slow at times, but it definitely provides a solid afternoon of entertainment.
The story in Kasumi is pretty simple. The main character—Kasumi Morioka—is your typical high school student; cheerful, ambitious, and has the ability to turn invisible. Okay, she isn’t your typical high school student, but if she was, this would be your typical run-of-the-mill high school love story. This trait matches Kasumi well, since she performs magic tricks and is generally the source of all the light-heartedness in the series. One day, after catching a fairy in a gorgeous forest, she somehow is able to turn invisible on a whim. She doesn’t seem to be the only one holding such a power, but the first volume only hints at such a possibility.
Having just transferred to her new school, she realizes how out of place she really is, considering everyone is stinking rich. She does make on good friend though. Yuuta Goodwin is his name, and he is a bit of an otaku who overly enjoys superheroes. I actually like Yuuta only because, while it seems like he is a prime target to get picked on, he really doesn’t care what others say and dismisses them with ease. He is a surprisingly strong character (mentally) based on what we see of him the first volume, and he brings that much more fun to the series.
Yuuta doesn’t position himself as the hero or even a love interest at all. That role is assigned to Ryuuki Hasegawa, stuck-up and emotionless—a drone, someone who has the smarts and the looks, but no personality. I can’t say I hate or like Ryuuki considering he seems like Kasumi’s love interest, but at least he’s not a bully like most of the students at this snotty school. Kasumi is quickly picked on as she gets into a beef with the RSF (“Ryuuki-sama’s Fan Club”), a clique filled with bitchy girls who all like Ryuuki. This is when we first find out about Kasumi’s powers, and Ryuuki’s possible connection to them.
Kasumi’s power is, as I said, the ability to turn invisible, and it lets her do things that are both funny and honorable (I just hope she doesn’t try to jaywalk). She will do anything to set things right, and even get back at the ones who she doesn’t think is right. Her actions after she finds out about her powers generate a lot of sympathy as she runs headfirst into how frustratingly selfish the world can be.
We are then introduced to a new character named Maiko Koyanagi, a rather peculiar girl who is said to talk to spirits. Maiko’s immediately likable thanks to her cheerful and carefree attitude—always staring into the distance, or dancing around, and so quiet that I don’t think she talks at all in the whole first volume. Kasumi helps her from getting bullied, but in the end, you’d think the two would have shown some signs of getting closer. Instead, their interactions end abruptly, with the two not at all connecting or interacting. It was a bit disappointing because I thought it was going to lead somewhere, but not here.
The final chapter was somewhat interesting because of the whole concept of water. The way Kasumi can turn invisible is holding her breath, but if she is underwater, she cannot be seen—so it becomes hard to determine if she is drowning or not! Surprisingly, what I said in my last paragraph about Maiko changes without notice as she abruptly seems closer to Kasumi and tries to help her out of a sticky situation—same with the powerful Yuuta, of course. In the end, a certain character shows up and displays a new power that opens up so many possibilities for the future.
I like Kasumi because it’s lively and somewhat fresh. The characters—besides Ryuuki—are interesting and the mystical storyline is very appealing. While I’m still a bit iffy on the fifth chapter’s disappointing ending, the content in the first volume is strong enough to get by as a good read.
Artwork: The artwork presented in Kasumi is pretty strong, despite sometimes being cluttered with special effects or oversized characters. The volume really has its ups and downs when it comes to the visual experience. For the most part, all of the characters are done very well and standout to ensure that each character is given a specific trait or visual appearance. The amount of detail in each character isn’t significant, but you can tell Hirofumi Sugimoto was going towards a more cartoony style of drawing. Special effects are also well done as they consist of foggy environments to windy terrains.
The only part of the novel that kind of turned me off is the environments. While the beginning when Kasumi find the gigantic tree, definitely has some eye catching artwork, for the most part, backgrounds are either faded out or don’t consist of a lot of shadowing or detail. The shadowing is the biggest problem considering everything looks much too plain for its own good. Still, the artwork in Kasumi is done well. Maybe not the best you can find, but it does tell the story in a bit of an enriching way.
Translation: Because this is a English written novel, I can’t really say much for the translation section. There is one spelling error that I’m not 100% sure on, only because I can see Ken extending his words in amazement, but he says “awwesome” with double ws. Because that, there isn’t anything wrong, although I did find it weird that there were some Japanese phrases used within the story. Such as “hai” instead of “yes”, “ohayo” instead of “good morning”, “ganbattene” instead of “good luck” and “onegai” instead of “please”. These are constantly used, and I have no idea why, considering this is supposed to be written in English. Why translate “ohayo” at the bottom of the page when you can just put “good morning” in the bubble? I also found an empty bubble right after Kasumi realizes she can turn invisible. Lastly, sound effects are presented in English only. I’ve actually said a lot considering there really isn’t much of a translation.
There are a couple pages for extras, too. There is a preview into the next volume—although there is no artwork, just a paragraph describing it, there is a somewhat comical bonus feature that tells a short story between Surt and Hirofumi, and lastly, a couple character profiles.
The Bottom Line: I did enjoy Kasumi a lot more than I anticipated and I can only hope the second volume continues what it is doing now. While it shows how its world can be startlingly barbaric, there is a certain charm about it that is quite appealing and has a very cartoony, anime-style look. If you like a romantic comedy with magic, you will certainly enjoy this. Just don’t expect it to blow your mind.