Manga Mondays: Blank

Amnesia is an issue that’s tackled quite often in manga, whether it be through subplot or the main plot, and usually it’s trite as hell. When this convention shows up, it’s usually safe to assume that the memory loss will stay long enough for the characters to suffer a breakdown, but the memories will all somehow return at the end of the story / arc so that there can be a happy resolution. Wanting a happy ending isn’t something to be faulted for, and even writing something about the mysterious healing powers of love, while usually uninteresting, isn’t something to get angry over. However, the mention of memory loss in a romance carries with it the warning of tired tropes that don’t endear a work to me. It’s no wonder that when I read that Furiko Yotsuhara’s Blank dealt exclusively with the issue, I wasn’t overly excited to read it. And how was it? Eeh.

Blank

Minaho was a victim of an accident—we don’t know what kind, but apparently the kind that leaves every part of your body fine except for your memory. And though she doesn’t remember her, Minaho’s friend Tokitou visits her every day, bringing along sweets and books that she may enjoy. These small diversions are wonderful, but at night Minaho is paralyzed with fear when thinking about issues like whether or not she can return to school and the constant buzzing of her cell phone (the reminder of the social life she can’t remember).

The cell phone, acting as a sort of symbol for her past, (this is only thirty-one pages, we’re not going to have intense symbolism) becomes a reminder of everything she cannot have. Minaho doesn’t even remember how to use it, so she hides it away. She’s not allowed to hide from it for long, however, as Tokitou offers to teach her how to use it. This is the Blank Cell Phoneundoing of everything. The rush of information from Minaho’s old life is too much and she becomes reclusive. She even tells Tokitou that she doesn’t want to see her again after discovering that they were dating previous to the accident.

Alone, Minaho struggles with the fact that she cannot go back to the way her life used to be, but eventually makes the brave decision that she can move forward. And that she wants to do so with the support of her girlfriend.

What I appreciated about Blank was the maturity used when dealing with amnesia. Although there’s a little bit of the naive “I still love you even though I don’t remember you”, there’s a lot more shown of the hardships Minaho must deal with and overcome. It’s not just a romance story, it’s a slice of life tragedy with romance thrown in. And the stakes are palpable. If Minaho decides to abandon everything, she can start over without feeling pressured to be the person that she was before the accident. At the same time, she may lose something she holds dear in the process. If Tokitou listens to the demands Minaho made out of fear, she might help comfort her girlfriend, but would it be more than a momentary comfort in the long run? Would it really be worth giving up their entire friendship because of the amnesia? The questions posed here are much more interesting than, let’s say, “if you don’t remember your love, dude might be de-powered from heartbreak.”

However, what I’m disappointed by is the fact that the manga doesn’t decide to show us any part of the character’s growth after the initial angst fest. We have both girls dealing with the fears of being forgotten and replaced, and even abandoned, but we don’t get any catharsis in seeing them work through the issue together. We get feeling dumps and the resolution of “yeah, let’s do this together,” and then it ends! Even the follow-up story only views the events from Tokitou’s point of view. I want an epilogue, damn it! It’s clear that Yotsuhara wasn’t intending to give Minaho’s memory back, so why can’t we see them work through such a hurdle together?

Blank Tokitou MinahoBlank is a decent enough short story, but it leaves me wanting more, and not in the good way. It feels incomplete and, in moments, rushed, but I’d still say give it a read. The tackling of amnesia is more nuanced in this than in anything I’ve read for a long while: I don’t know if that’s high praise to lavish on this story or a sad comment on other media.

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About Tsunderin

Greetings and salutations! Feel free to just call me Rin—we’re all friends here, or nemeses who just haven’t gotten to know each other well enough. I’m a video game lover from the womb to the tomb, and Bioware enthusiast until the day they stop making games with amazing characters that I cry over. And while I don’t partake as often as I used to, don’t be surprised to find me poking around an anime or manga every once in a while either. A personal interest for me is characterization in media and how women in particular have been portrayed, are being portrayed, and will be portrayed in the future. I’m not going to mince words about my opinion either.