Review: Perfect World Vol 1
Perfect World follows the characters of Tsugumi and her old high school crush Itsuki, the two being reunited for the first time since graduation at a company get together. Tsugumi discover that Itsuki has been following his dream of becoming an architect, but also discovers that he was in an accident and suffered a spinal cord injury. As they rekindle their friendship, Tsugumi learns about the different difficulties Itsuki lives with and as she tries to connect with him also deals with her misunderstandings and prejudices.
The story is fantastically paced as we get different chapters that deal with Itsuki's health issues, we're introduced to different elements of his past with a former girlfriend and how Tsugumi previously interpreted that relationship, their shared support of a young basketball player named Haruto who has yet to come to terms with his disability, and more.
What really comes to the forefront is the story's earnest approach to not only a romance but to empathizing with these characters and sharing the specific experiences and emotions attached to their various hardships. The story spends a good amount of time focussing on both character's hesitations: Tsugumi grapples on whether or not she still feels the same way as she thought she did in high school, while Itsuki doesn't believe he wants to be in another relationship for the rest of his life. They're both concerned about their own individual life goals and happiness while learning if they can make each other happy.
While I'm generally not as much of a fan of art that relies on too much empty space, there's a certain element to the spareness of the art that works as the core focus is always on the emotions our characters are feeling. The general lack of backgrounds isn't really necessary anyway as the layouts and closeups are meant to amplify the facial expressions and body language, limiting other distractions and keeping us ever focused on the emotions at play.
This first volume is truly engaging and is equal parts a heartfelt romance and an important showcase for empathy and representation. It's the kind of book that I would love to see make it into more classrooms and libraries as I feel it would not only be popular for its merits as a character driven romance but also for its educational qualities. Simply put, we need more comics like this and we need to get them out into the hands of young readers.