Glass syndrome features two stories, while the titular thumbnail is the focal point of the volume spanning over 100 pages of the 196-page one-shot manga from mangaka Eido Ariki. Glass syndrome is published and localized in English by TOKYOPOP via the publisher’s Love X Love line of books, which focuses on queer stories in manga, in this case BL. The anthology volume includes translation by Christine Dashiell and touch-ups and lettering by Vibrant Publishing Studio. Also working on this title are copy editor-in-chief Tina Tseng, editor Lena Atanassova and graphic designer Sol DeLeo.
In Glass syndrome, Nijou is the perfect student. He’s a class president, tall at sports and loved by all his classmates, especially girls, but this is all just a facade. This is what he should be for others, as he hides his true feelings, including the fear of letting people down through imperfection and the dread of being close to others, emotionally and physically. But with the status of the most responsible and respected of his class, his teacher asks Nijou to take care of Toomi, a student who has not been to school for quite some time.
Like many romances, Toomi is the exact opposite of Nijou. Alone, Toomi is artfully aware of the fear of Nijou’s closeness and the pressure he carries under his devoted smile. Instead of giving, Toomi becomes belligerent and pushes Nijou towards a breakdown. But in this, the two begin to see each other more in the other. Moreover, while Nijou hides an emotional secret, Toomi hides his; to pay off his father’s gambling debts, he plays drag on an adult cam site by the name “Haruka”. When Nijou accidentally finds out the truth, their growing friendship is called into question, as he questions whether or not he should tell Toomi. The trap ? Nijou begins to develop feelings for “Haruka” – and realizes that the feelings are for Toomi.
For what it’s worth, Glass syndrome effectively uses trauma. He uses guilt and shame as a narrative push but detached from their sexuality. Toomi is ashamed of the life he has to lead to pay off his father’s debts, and Nijou is filled with guilt because he has a window into Toomi’s life that he was not allowed to have. . The beauty of the story is how the two deal with these elements. For both, they become each other’s safety, both physically and emotionally. They fight, push each other, and once they have shown their vulnerability, they come out on the other side of the angst, connected and respectful of each other.
Outside of most of the one-shot, there are three other stories that are each about the length of a chapter. One is a continuation of the main story, which is essentially a side story. With it, readers can get a glimpse into Nijou and Toomi’s life together. In the other two stories, we get a small chapter on unrequited love titled “Similar Figures of Love” and its sequel focused on different characters.
“Similar Figures of Love” examines a love triangle based on unrequited love. Kasumi is in love with her childhood friend Chihiro, but Chihiro has a crush on a girl. That said, Kasumi’s upper class student Saiki is in love with Kasumi. At breakneck speed, we see Kasumi come to terms with her unrequited love and Saiki advance in hers as well. And the sequel that ends Glass syndrome offers a little more to the story because of its length.
As a matter of fact, Glass syndrome the main story is about five chapters, and with the sequel, which could have been considered a 5.5, I have no idea why “Similar Figures of Love” is in this one-shot. It’s not a bad story, but it’s rather too quick and too short to appreciate the characters or their fight. Himself, Glass syndrome the title story is good and moving, but with the added vignette this one-shot misses a perfect score.
Overall though, Glass syndrome well worth the purchase. While there are elements of trauma on display, it’s never too much to deal with as a reader, and the care and vulnerability that Nijou and Toomi exude even when they have their walls done right. And for them alone, you should dive into this one-shot.
Glass syndrome is available everywhere books are sold now.
Glass Syndrome Volume 1
Glass syndrome well worth the purchase. While there are elements of trauma on display, it’s never too much to deal with as a reader, and the care and vulnerability that Nijou and Toomi exude even when they have their walls done right. And for them alone, you should dive into this one-shot.
Kate is co-founder of BWT’s EIC and CCO. She’s also a certified Rotten Tomatoes reviewer, host and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and should you ?. She also handles all PR for comics, manga, movies, TV, and cartoons. She holds an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on the impact of pop culture on society.