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Literature / Qualia the Purple
aka: Murasakiiro No Qualia

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The purple-eyed deuteragonist
"I’ll visit upon you the utmost suffering with the infinite possibilities of infinite worlds. I act once more in imitation of light."
Hatou Manabu

Hatou Manabu (nicknamed Gaku) has a very odd friend at school named Marii Yukari. Yukari has purple eyes and a bizarre way of looking at the world: she sees all other living things as robots. This has not always worked out well for Yukari, even costing her a best friend when she was younger. However, Yukari insists that the things she says she sees is true, and her vision seems to give her insight into the abilities of others.

Gaku thinks she's just weird, but she soon realizes that Yukari has unexpected talents. It seems she can fix anything, and even the police come to hear her insights. It turns out that Yukari's purple eyes are not unique in the world! However, there is one important distinction among those who see humans as other objects. Do humans appear as unimportant as objects, or do those objects appear as important as human beings?

Starting as a seemingly lighthearted series with a sci-fi premise, it quickly makes good use of said premise, turning much darker soon enough. The fast genre shifts and the surprisingly detailed use of physics concepts are some of the most prominent characteristics of this work.

Qualia the Purple (Murasakiiro no Qualia) is a single-volume science fiction Light Novel written by Ueo Hisamitsu and illustrated by Shirou Tsunashima, which was first published in 2009. The book was given a manga adaptation which was serialized in Dengeki Daioh, from 2011 to 2013 for eighteen chapters, and compiled into three volumes. The book and the manga adaptation were both eventually released in English by Seven Seas Entertainment.

Qualia the Purple contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Accidental Kiss: Hatou and Yukari's first meeting literally falls into a kiss when Yukari's trying to follow Hatou, and the latter turns around.
  • Ambiguous Ending: The final chapter ends with a letter written by Yukari to Gaku to be delivered to her should she die. Whether Yukari actually died or not in the final world is never confirmed.
  • Anachronic Order: Hatou's narration is oftentimes like this.
  • Anti-Hero: Hatou is slowly but surely becoming this.
  • Arc Words: Hatou's considerations on storytelling are repeated in slightly different ways several times. Her struggle with how to tell the story suddenly becomes more understandable, considering we're talking about a multiverse epic only she has the whole, huge perspective of.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Hatou, who realizes the truth behind the theory of everything and becomes "nothing" that exists outside of the limitation and observation of the universe. Even saying that she exists as something that does not exist. Losing her identity as Hatou Manabu, she watches over evolution and finally sees Yukari surviving.
  • The Atoner: Gaku. In the vast majority of worlds she denies herself happiness to try to solve Yukari's murder. She has endured numerous deaths, alcoholism, rape (implied), and who knows what else in pursuit of her goal. All because she helped Alice convince Yukari to join JAUNT.
  • Back from the Dead: Yukari due to Time Travel like antics.
  • Bad Future: Hatou dies young and in not-so-nice ways in many of the parallel worlds. Ultimately, despite having characteristics that could make one consider it as a "good life", any future that doesn't have her achieving her goal of finding Alice or later saving Yukari is considered bad and a rejected possibility.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Hatou is a rather laid-back character. That is, until Yukari dies.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: In the penultimate chapter, Hatou and Yukari share a kiss when Yukari convinces the former to live alongside her as friend rather than someone who protects her from beyond.
  • Brain in a Jar: One is shown in chapter 11. It is Yukari's brain. Also, the real life example of Einstein's brain is mentioned.
  • Brought Down to Normal: In the ending, Hatou makes a conscious decision to observe her arm as just an arm. This basically means there is no quantum uncertainty as to whether it's an arm or a phone, which more or less means she gives up her powers. She eventually loses even the memories of her multiverse!selves, but still retains the most important parts such as being friendly with Alice and making sure Yukari doesn't transfer to JAUNT.
  • Breather Episode: Chapter 14 centers on Hatou becoming a Magical Girl. It doesn't actually advance Hatou's quest to save Yukari, but does provide a shining moment of Black Comedy where she uses cutesy magic to violently kill anyone who may cause Yukari's death.
  • Broken Bird:
    • Tenjou is the best example.
    • Alice is later implied to fit this trope as well.
  • Bus Crash: Yukari dies off-screen in an unknown way about 6 months after transferring away from Hatou's school.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The series start off relatively light-hearted, but after a time skip, it takes a dive for the darker.
  • Chekhov's Gun: No one would have imagined the cellphone Hatou innocently wanted to buy would end up being used to re-attach her cut off arm and become a embedded means of communication with Yukari. But that's not where its usefulness ends. It also becomes the means through which Hatou can interfere with the parallel worlds by communicating with her alternate selves.
  • Covert Group: JAUNT is exactly this. A mysterious group that nobody knows about, apparently backed by the American government, which has no qualms with stealthy blowing up airplanes to keep their secrets... secret.
  • Cult: In the timeline where Hatou takes over JAUNT, it has become something of a humanitarian organization and a benevolent cult.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Gaku's cellular phone arm. She can use it to talk to parallel versions of herself. And it functions as a normal phone, too. But she is its battery, and overuse leaves her physically drained. She keeps sugary snacks on hand after she loses two pounds in one day from making too many calls.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: Yukari's death is this to Hatou, who changes completely after the event.
  • Dark and Troubled Past:
    • As a child, Tenjou fell off a jungle-gym, getting her body fatally wounded. And that's when the traumatizing part begins. Completely conscious, she then watches her best friend replacing her "damaged body parts" with jungle gym parts. This obviously still doesn't sit well with her for long years after. Justifies her acting as a jerk toward Yukari.
    • Alice had a drug-addict as a mother and her grandmother initially told Alice's mother that the child was a blessing. But once Alice began to show her powers, her mother became convinced she was sent from the devil as punishment and began to be emotionally, and physically, abusive towards her.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Hatou comes dangerously close to this after Yukari's death, escaping it by hanging to the glimmer of hope she found in the form of Alice and becoming the Determinator. She crosses it completely by Ch 13, willing to kill whoever JAUNT sends to get Yukari.
  • Death of a Child: Gruesomely. Besides her many other deaths, in one of the Magical Girl universes, a child Hatou dies in a failed attempt to teleport through a wall.
  • Determinator: Hatou, or rather, all of her selves from multiple parallel worlds, won't give up finding the truth behind Yukari's Death.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Gaku's plan on doing whatever she can to finally obtain a world where Yukari doesn't die. It's just that multiple attempts of it have failed repeatedly. One of the universes has an earned happy ending to it. Hatou has practically become a non-existent-existing god-like entity that is watching over evolution and life on earth. Finally, Yukari is saved from JAUNT and does not painfully die. And she's the only one who can talk with Hatou. Yukari is horrified that her friend has opted for this type of existence just to save her and wants Hatou to return to her. Hatou, remembering her life as the regular Hatou Manabu, manages to break free from her strange existence and regain a body, kissing Yukari and the two are finally together.
  • Easily Detachable Robot Parts:
    • Yukari tell's Gaku that she is a Super Robot type capable of easily swapping a variety of parts. Which is unusual as most of those types of robots are boys. Gaku reflects that this is why she is able to easily adapt to her cel-phone arm, while Tenjou cannot emotionally accept her jungle gym parts.
    • Yukari easily and literally disassembles the serial killer, and the killer's head continues to work normally while Yukari tries to find the bug in her. At least until Yukari gets annoyed and shuts off her speech. Yukari then puts her back together just as easily.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Tenjou calls Hatou Helmet Head due to her haircut. It's not big news to say she doesn't like it.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Somehow, in every single possibility/world, saving Yukari seems to be this. Whether or not it really is or whether Observer's Theory is really the concept to blame for it, it has yet to be seen.
  • Failure Knight: Hatou. She's trying each and every possibility/world out of a supposedly infinite amount in order to save Yukari. So far, she's only breaking herself further by watching her efforts turning out to be completely futile and Yukari dying again and again.
    "Once more, from the beginning, let's test every path, just like light. All for the sake of that single answer. After all, what other purpose does my existence serve?"
  • Fanservice: The manga gives a long focus on the Accidental Kiss when it happens (and shows it multiple times). There's a pool scene in the first chapter, a shower scene in chapter 6, and a completely plot relevant nude scene (with Gaku's arm inadvertently hiding her chest from view) in chapter 11.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The first few pages foreshadow the darker nature of the series, despite the lighthearted start.
    • Tenjou's claims regarding the frightening nature of Yukari's eyes and the perspective of the world that comes with them.
    • The call Hatou receives in chapter 8 is a foreshadowing of both Yukari's death and her power of interacting with her Alternate Universe selves.
    • Yukari claims that she sees Gaku as an "all-purpose self-modifiable robot" that can do anything by switching parts. By the end, Gaku has used her quantum leap powers to become countless other people, and after learning the Theory of Everything, she manages to transcend reality itself.
  • Freak Out: Alice when she sees Gaku in chapter 11.
  • Future Bad Ass: Several of Hatou's future incarnations end up like this.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: Only Hatou knows what happens in all the parallel worlds/all the possibilities, due to being able to communicate and share memories, knowledge and experience with her alternate selves. Thus, no one else knows the whole story.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: Hatou's initial power, the power to call people, isn't that great. She can only do so in darkness, it physically strains her body, and it doesn't work if someone's watching her. All in all, a normal cellphone does her job better. Yukari for instance, perceives living beings as robots and can overwrite reality to fit that view, and she has no noticeable limitations. However, once Hatou discovers that she can contact her parallel selves, through some creative thinking, its potential blows through the roof.
  • Heel–Face Brainwashing: Yukari does this to a serial killer-or more specifically, debugs her after disassembling her so she becomes sane.
  • In-Series Nickname:
    • Hatou is always called Gaku by Yukari. Hatou's the one who actually suggested the nickname though.
    • Tenjou calls Hatou "Helmet Head", due to her haircut, as an Embarrassing Nickname. She doesn't like it.
  • Infodump: Lots, much due to the philosophical nature of the narration, and the various quantum mechanics theories explained.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Oddly, the magical universe doesn't appear to be any different from all the others. For some reason, nobody else seems to be using magic there.
  • Insufferable Genius: Alice can solve pretty much any equation in her head easily, and she sees herself as above normal humans.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Hatou convinces Yukari to join JAUNT. It backfires in a horrific way.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Tenjou acts like a jerk towards Yukari but has actually always been doing her best to try to understand her better.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Hatou's considerations on storytelling count as this.
  • Magical Eyes:
    • Yukari's purple eyes see the world differently than everyone else. She sees all living beings as robots, and as a consequence, her perspective is imposed on the world, leading to humans working as robots to her - she's able to fix them using mechanical parts, dismantle them (which would be the equivalent of cutting someone up for anyone else's eyes) without even any bleeding and change the programming in their brain.
    • Alice sees equations as pictures, which makes it possible for her, an 11-year-old child, to quickly understand and solve university-level mathematical problems. However, she can only express the solutions verbally, since she has no idea how to write mathematical expressions without drawing a picture instead.
    • Subverted with the culprit to the Tokyo Dismembering Murders. She claims to see people as lumps of meat but, as pointed out by Yukari, she's apparently just a sociopath, fitting the definition almost to perfection.
  • Magical Girl: Chapter 14, Hatou gets into contact with a younger, parallel version of herself in a universe where magic exists. She also gets herself a costume including Transformation Sequence.
  • Mind Screw: From philosophy to quantum mechanics, the series has a field day with this. Perception is troublesome, after all.
  • Misplaced Retribution: Hatou toward Alice in consequence of Yukari's death. Alice never meant for it to happen. On the opposite, she truly believed JAUNT would be able to protect Yukari.
  • Mundane Fantastic: In Chapter 14, Hatou comes up with the idea that, if the multiverse theory is really as infinite as it is, it's not a far stretch to think that there is a parallel universe where magic exists. There is one.
  • Ms. Exposition: Tenjou is the one who introduces most of the physics concepts relevant for the story.
  • The Multiverse: From some point of the series onward, Hatou can interact with all the parallel worlds. Each of these is one of the infinite possibilities for the flow of events that didn't get determined in her world.
  • Older Than They Look: In chapter 16, Hatou mentions that in the current universe she is in, she was 47 years old yet looked like she was still in her twenties. On a technical standpoint, every Hatou can be this due to the constant universe-hopping.
  • Personal Perception Filter: Yukari's eyes mean she sees the world through one. All living beings look like robots to her. This actually takes it one step further, as her perception is actually capable of influencing the world around her through the nature of her interactions with it.
  • Preemptive "Shut Up": After not showing up for a couple of chapters, this is all Tenjou gets from Hatou in chapter 13.
  • Put on a Bus: Yukari. Though not for long.
  • Quantum Mechanics Can Do Anything: While actually accurate in its explanation of physics concepts, as a science fiction, it abuses physics, and in particular quantum mechanics, to quite some extent.
  • Reality Warper: Yukari and Hatou. Yukari is explained above under Magical Eyes, whereas Hatou isn't as noticeable. Hatou instead is changing reality to her vision by means of infinite do overs.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: Completely averted. Hatou takes full advantage of her massive information network to expose JAUNT's corruption and overtake it as its leader. Soon after, she uses knowledge from her financially-successful parallel selves to start a company to provide funding for the institute.
  • Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: Hatou can share memories, experience and knowledge with her selves from parallel worlds.
  • Sacred First Kiss: Gaku accuses Yukari of stealing her first kiss (which she did), but waves it off when Yukari takes her joke seriously.
  • Save Scumming: Hatou. From the moment she can contact her alternate selves from parallel worlds, she is akin to a quantum computer, being able to find out all possible outcomes and pick the one she's interested in. She basically has unlimited lives/save files, even if she happens to die.
  • Screw Destiny: In Chapter 13, Hatou thinks that might be the reason why she can never prevent Yukari's death in any of the worlds. In Chapter 14, Hatou thinks that this is bullshit and says she doesn't believe in "fate" and will continue to screw "fate" over if it really is why she doesn't succeed.
  • Serial Escalation: Hatou's power starts off as nothing more than having a cell phone embedded in her hand. Eventually, it gains the power to communicate with her selves from parallel universes. Then, we have this evolve into a full-blown information network and from there, Mental Time Travel. Shortly afterwards, it escalates into mind-controlling humans with even the tiniest of blood relationship and reality warping.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Hatou. She's now trying to find a possibility/world in which Yukari's death doesn't happen. She hasn't been very lucky thus far.
  • Shout-Out Theme Naming: Just as Alice is named after the Alice's Adventures in Wonderland protagonist, the girl from JAUNT that replaces her when she dies in one timeline is named Dorothy Frank.
  • Shown Their Work: Qualia has some good use and explanation of scientific concepts. For example, Chapter 7 has Tenjou and Manabu talk at length about how Marii's powers work, and mention the Schrödinger's Cat thought experiment in the middle. Manabu thinks that the "1/2 alive, 1/2 dead" misconception is bogus, and in a rare moment of fictional coversations about it Tenjou agrees that it sounds preposterous—because it is and always was.
  • Quantum Physics: Concepts which the series uses to great effect. The Wave-Particle Duality, the Wave Function Collapse and the Copenhagen and the Many Worlds interpretations of Quantum Physics also come up.
  • The Sociopath:
  • They Know Too Much: JAUNT blows up the entire plane in order to dispose of Hatou and Yukari's family, who were traveling to America, because they were prying into the incident that resulted in Yukari's death.
  • Theme Naming: Aside from Marii, three characters are named after what is considered the first Japanese robot, Gakutenshou. Gaku went to Manabu, Ten went to Tenjou, and Shou went to Tenjou's crush Kasoku Tomonari.
  • Time Travel: Hatou figures out how to go back in time in order to Set Right What Once Went Wrong.
  • Trauma-Induced Amnesia: An uncommon variant where said amnesia doesn't happen right after the fact but several years later. To get over her childhood trauma caused by Yukari's Magical Eyes, at least in one of the parallel worlds, Tenjou, sometime in between the last year of middle-school and age 25, chose to re-observe her past and completely forget about those troublesome and traumatic events.
  • Wham Episode: It can be said that the series is full of Wham Episodes, a natural consequence of Serial Escalation, but there are some notable moments:
    • Chapter 6 finally reveals the peculiarities brought along with Yukari's eyes. And they're creepy, at the very least.
    • Chapter 10:
      "This is the Point of No Return. You have been warned."
  • Wham Line: Chapter 8
    "A call that should have been impossible... yet I recognized the voice who told me that Yukari would die. The person at the other end of the receiver... was me."
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Nanami frequently talks about things beyond her age in conversations with Hatou, bringing up things like the philosophical zombie and quantum physics. Due to her Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory, Hatou has the knowledge and experience from several lifetimes, shared between the infinite possibilities of her self, which undoubtedly makes her this.
  • Yandere: Hatou seems to have jumped straight into this, especially at the end of Ch 12. Ch 13 only solidifies it.
  • You Are Worth Hell: Hatou is willingly putting herself through hell for Yukari. Countless times.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Hatou mentions this in chapter 13. According to her, it might be the reason she can't save Yukari no matter what. Complete with a neat mention of the Observer's Theory as well.
  • You Kill It, You Bought It: Intentional and rather peculiar variant in that we see one Hatou murder one of her alternate world selves to then take her place as what we could call the "main" one. In truth this imagery is akin to rejecting a possibility/world, but being presented in this way just makes it quite a bit more powerful a scene.

Alternative Title(s): Murasakiiro No Qualia, Qualia The Purple