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Manga / Translucent

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Everyone's suddenly talking about shy high school freshman Shizuka. Unfortunately for Shizuka, it's not what she's wearing, how she's been acting, or what she's been seen doing that's getting everyone's attention — it's very literally what she's not being seen doing.

More specifically, Shizuka showed up to school halfway invisible.

Shizuka has contracted "Translucent Syndrome", a strange and mysterious medical condition that has only one symptom — it slowly turns the afflicted person translucent — anywhere from just slightly see through to effectively outright invisible. Sufferers from this strange non-contagious disease are otherwise left perfectly normal — they can see perfectly fine, they can touch things without a problem, etc. etc. They are perfectly normal people except you can see through their bodies like a sheet of glass.


Unfortunately for Shizuka, there's no known treatment or cure for translucent syndrome — she's going to have to put up with her newfound quirk every 4 weeks for the rest of her life. Double unfortunately for Shizuka, the disease is at least partially emotionally based — the happier she is, the shorter her stints as an invisible woman are; the more nervous, stressed out, or upset she is, the longer they are. Triple unfortunately for Shizuka, if she ever spends more than 2 weeks in a row translucent, she'll never reappear.

Did we mention that Shizuka is a budding stage actress, that going invisible at random kinda screws with that, and that kinda bums her out?

Translucent is a seinen manga by Kazuhiro Okamoto, which was serialized in Comic Flapper from 2005 to 2006. The first three of its five volumes were released in English by Dark Horse Comics, but localizations of the last two volumes were initially delayed, then effectively cancelled and the series has presumably been abandoned by them.


This manga provides examples of the following tropes:

  • The Ace: Everyone expects Okouchi to be this, and she hates having to run herself ragged keeping up with everyone's expectations. She gets over it, to a point, and is a genuinely nice person despite this.
  • Age-Appropriate Angst: Shizuka hovers between Angst and Wangst — what you view it as basically boils down to how bad you view her situation as. While translucent syndrome is annoying, it's a very minor annoyance (outside of making it hard to receive medical care) with easy to overcome symptoms — just put on a hat and coat — and is rhythmic enough (every 28 days or so) that Shizuka can anticipate her breakouts. On the other hand, Shizuka is a fairly talented amateur actress who wishes to become a professional, and her syndrome is a pretty major impediment to that — who is going to bother hiring an actress that spends 25-50% of her time unable to go on stage? That being said, when she has her freakouts and has to have Mamoru talk/hug/pinch her down, it certainly seems like shes overreacting — until you remember she's 14.
  • Angst: Keiko, Shizuka's adult friend who is stuck permanently 100% invisible, has her moments as well — in a freakout before the comic starts, she breaks off all contact with her fiancée for no reason other than that she doesn't want to depend on him.
  • Battle in the Rain: Mamoru and Shizuka's father.
  • Blessed with Suck / Cursed with Awesome: The series, as a whole, shows that uncontrollable invisibility bounces quite readily between the two.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Over the last few chapters we're shown that Shizuka's Translucent Syndrome has returned despite her being cured, but she is dealing with it with Mamoru's support — they're shown on a date (with Shizuka remaining severely affected by Translucent Syndrome the entire time), where we see a flashback of Shizuka first contracting Translucent Syndrome.
    • However, the last chapter reveals the fakeout, which a sharp eyed reader can catch a few chapters earlier. While she's drawn in her ghostlike, translucent form, she pointedly does not cast a shadow at any time, which is shown more blatantly during the final chapter. What this means is confirmed by Dr. Takazawa — Like Keiko, Shizuka has progressed to the more severe "Fully Transparent Syndrome," which is incurable; she will never be visible again. Shizuka's dream of being an actress is over. However, both Shizuka and Mamoru are now fully aware of their (still unspoken) feelings for each other, and are slowly progressing their relationship. And, most pointedly, in the last page of the comic, as the two walk away hand in hand, her shadow has started to reappear, however faintly.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Dr. Takazawa, who loves teasing Shizuka about sex. It's later discovered this is because she missed out on keeping her soulmate because she wasn't assertive enough to ask him to stay, which is a mistake is worried that Shizuka will make.
  • Converse with the Unconscious (+ Sleep Cute / Dude, She's Like, in a Coma!): Shizuka, having snuck around in Mamoru's house while invisible, observes his entire family, tomboy older sister included, sneaking in to kiss him while he sleeps. She then sneaks back in on her own for the sole purpose of giving him a kiss, too.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Okouchi's first name must be embarrassing — we spend the entire series without learning it.
  • I Can't See Myself: Several times in the series, most potently when Shizuka literally wishes herself invisible on stage due to stage fright, which is the first time she ever went translucent and When a supposedly cured Shizuka discovers her chest is invisible in a dressing room, meaning that she wasn't really cured. A close runner up is when she Wangsts out about being invisible, requiring Mamoru hug / pinch her back to normal.
  • Instant Fan Club: Okouchi gets one. She doesn't really want it.
  • Invisible Anatomy: When affected by translucent syndrome, Shizuka is pseudo-drawn by either only using screentone and no line art, standard or faded line art with conspicuously missing screentone, or white line art and white screen tone. One particularly pretty scene has Shizuka and Keiko skinny dipping, they are drawn in a variant of this style.
    • One specific rule is that she always at least casts some form of shadow when translucent which is why when she gains the more advanced Fully Transparent Syndrome in volume 4, that vanishes too.
    • This is also used for The Reveal of Book 5: The last few chapters shows Shizuka drawn as a very faint outline, which is how she's been drawn when suffering from full bouts of Translucent Syndrome the entire series. The second to last page involves Dr. Takazawa mentioning off hand to Keiko that Mamoru is the only one who can see Shizuka anymore, and her distinctly not casting a shadow on the last three chapters of the book reveals the Bittersweet Ending — Shizuka has re-contracted Fully Transparent Syndrome, and the outline was for our benefit. Going back through the pages (page 165 of Volume 5, for example) reveals she wasn't casting a shadow the previous few chapters, either — but her clothing was.
  • Invisibility: While not outright invisible — Shizuka at the height of her worst outbreaks still has a very faint, ghostly outline — the difference between being that translucent and invisible isn't worth mentioning. Shizuka even does the "Invisible Streaker" trick in one of the chapters to steal an embarrassing poetry book back by just stripping naked first. Playing the trope more seriously is Keiko, who has the more advanced "Fully Transparent Syndrome" version of the disease — meaning she's 100% invisible, permanently. She wears a bandanna, glasses she doesn't need, and gloves to keep her extremities safe. Until she becomes pregnant, wherein the happiness of being a mother restores her body.
    • Shizuka also gains "Fully Transparent Syndrome" in the upcoming Volume 4, but is cured by The Power of Friendship. Unfortunately, the cure is temporary.
  • Invisible Streaker: Shizuka does this several times in the strip — once literally streaking away from Mamoru when upset, stripping naked two times to try and prove to Mamoru that she might as well not exist, and once when Okouchi has her break into Mamoru's house to steal a poetry book. Honorable mention goes to Shizuka and Keiko deciding to go skinny dipping at the beach because they didn't bring suits — but they couldn't be seen anyway.
    • They could, actually, albeit only with Invisible Anatomy- it was pretty much the point of the scene, since Keiko's boyfriend hadn't seen her in years. It was beautiful.
    • Shizuka has a tendency to strip naked when angsting out about her Translucent Syndrome effects (usually to make a point about her body not being visible). She does this three times in the first volume (with each time Mamoru having to hug/chase/pinch her to get her to come out of it).
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Okouchi starts to fall in love with Mamoru, but realizes instantly that she has absolutely no chance. A type 4 or 6 version of the chart on TriangRelations, with the 6 version being decidedly in the friendship category. She quickly decides to settle for being a really good friend for the two, and get the two hooked up. Whether they want to be or not.
  • Genki Girl: Mamoru is a rare male version. Okouchi has elements of this too after her character development — she drop kicks people (mostly Mamoru) at random.
  • Latex Perfection: Subverted — while Mamoru can use certain types of Bodypaint for Shizuka to hide minor outbreaks, there's no paint that can magically give a mostly invisible Shizuka eyes, teeth, or the insides of a mouth if she has a breakout right before a play — and Shizuka and the drama club all know it. In at least one instance, the drama club president gets over it, realizes they're kids in high school, and they all just agree to ignore it. In another, he breaks Shizuka's heart by asking her to sit out when her favorite actress is coming to watch the club practice.
  • The Minnesota Fats: A famous actress — Shizuka's personal role model — comes to watch the drama club practice, and the head of the club asks Shizuka to hide because although she's the star, she's currently going through a severe bout of translucency (to the point that her shadow is only a thin gray line on the wall). Shizuka is heartbroken but hides it from the club, and decides to hide herself completely to avoid any embarrassing questions. Unbeknownst to her, the actress watches her practicing on her own outside, figures it out, and is very impressed with Shizuka's acting ability.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted. Shizuka says outright that her invisibility cycle pretty much coincides with her menstrual cycle.
  • Old Shame: An in universe example — Okouchi's poetry. It's not "old" per saynote , but she's willing to beg Shizuka to run around naked and (mostly) invisible just to steal it back.
  • Otaku: Mamoru (about Gundam models, monster movies, etc — his room has several thousand dollars worth of models on the walls), Koichi (about Gundam models and his chosen career of architecture — in one chapter, he randomly walks into someone's house because it has interesting windows.)
  • The Ojou: Okouchi is a minor version of this. Her parents are rich, she's a good student, she's the Student Council President... However, her money, family, or house doesn't really come up in the series (we never even learn her first name!), and she rapidly evolves into a Genki Girl once she becomes more comfortable with the main characters.
  • Pilot: Chapter 1 was originally a one shot — the "rules" of the syndrome change between Chapter 1 and the rest of the series, and events in Chapter 1 are re-done later in the manga. In chapter 1 it is more like patchwork invisibility — for example, Shizuka's arm, but not her hands, becomes completely invisible, and it supposedly never wears off. In later chapters, it's less "invisible" and more "partially see through", like a ghost, and comes in monthly cycles. Shizuka in chapters 2+ has been Translucent for 3+ years, Shizuka in chapter 1 had contracted it that week. The character's personalities change between the chapters, too — Mamoru loses 30 IQ points between Chapter 1 and 2, Shizuka is noticeably less assertive (but altogether more of a girl next door) the rest of the series.
  • Power Incontinence: The entire point of the manga — Shizuka cannot turn her translucency on or off at will, it cycles every few weeks with the constant threat of it getting stuck on permanently. There are two forms of "stuck on" in this case:
    • Chronic Translucent Syndrome, which is what happens if a bout of translucent syndrome lasts for too long at a time. After about 7 days of constant translucency, the chance of the person with the syndrome becoming visible again drops dramatically; after 14 days, it never wears off.
    • Fully Transparent Syndrome, Translucent Syndrome's bigger and more serious variant. It's 100%, complete invisibility, with no hope of a treatment or a cure. Unlike Translucent syndrome, it doesn't "ease in", either, it just suddenly "appears" one day, and if it doesn't go away after a few days, it never does. Keiko has this variant of the syndrome, but is cured by becoming a mother. In addition, Shizuka gains it in volume 4, but is saved by The Power of Friendship, curing not only her Fully Translucent Syndrome, but her Transparent Syndrome as well. Or so she thinks — shortly afterwards she finds that her torso has turned invisible again, and the Bittersweet Ending involves her re-contracting Fully Transparent Syndrome.
  • Power of Friendship: The only thing keeping Shizuka from turning permanently translucent. It also undoes supposedly chronic, permanent symptoms a few times.
  • Rebellious Princess: Okouchi. She hates the pressure of everyone expecting her to be The Ojou, and attempts to infect herself with Translucent Syndrome from Shizuka. When that fails — it's not contagious — she tries to get herself arrested for shoplifting. When that fails — Shizuka invisibly grabbed her arm before she could do it — Shizuka and Okouchi have a heart to heart and Okouchi realizes sometimes people need someone to hold up as an ideal.
  • Scenery Porn: Several scenes, with a particular emphasis on sunsets.
  • Shout-Out: Gundam models. Lots of them. Lots of references to Sentai and Toku stuff, too.
  • Shrinking Violet: Shizuka resents her disease because it is forcing her into this trope — people don't really notice her already, but becoming translucent makes it worse — "even the sun doesn't notice her" (she doesn't cast a shadow). Eventually she comes to terms with this, and decides she's happy being mostly ignored, except when on stage.
  • Sleep Cute: On the way home from the beach, Mamoru falls asleep on Shizuka's shoulder. The adults share a knowing look.
  • Student Council President: Okouchi, although this doesn't come up much.
  • Train-Station Goodbye: In one early chapter, Shizuka is going to move away to be closer to a specialist in Translucent Syndrome, due to her being stuck translucent for an entire week and her symptoms about to become chronic. Meanwhile, Mamoru has been ignoring her and spacing out. In the end it turns out Mamoru was painting a giant painting of the entire class, Shizuka included, as a goodbye — he wasn't spacing out, he was studying faces. At the last second he throws the painting into the train, the sight and shock of which makes Shizuka happy enough to immediately reappear.
  • True Art Is Angsty: The In-Universe philosophy of Shizuka's idol, the visiting stage actress. She sees Shizuka practicing outside by herself, and figures out that the drama advisor must have asked her to hide because of her translucent syndrome acting up. The end of the chapter is the actress talking during an interview where she says she feels angst is important for a developing actress.
  • Twice Shy: Everyone thinks this is what's going on between Shizuka and Mamoru, with Shizuka being too shy to approach Mamoru and Mamoru being both clueless and shy. They even try to force the issue a few times. They're actually wrong — while Shizuka is very timid, she's not shy — she's an actress, after all. Meanwhile, Mamoru is actually frighteningly insightful, realizing innately Shizuka's feelings long before any of them are anywhere near up to speed. While he remains a carefree, Gundam and monster-movie obsessed kid, it turns out that's exactly the foil that Shizuka needs.
  • Urban Fantasy: The series is a perfectly normal high school drama save for translucent syndrome.
  • Walking the Earth: Dr. Takazawa's life's love, who decided to visit Europe to see the world after or during college, and never returned.