‘Perfect World’ is a Josei manga by Aruga Rie. The series has been around for a few years, with 5 volumes released, but I only discovered it recently. Unfortunately the series is not licensed in English so I only discovered it from the good will of online translators, who are still hard at work translating it! So far 1 volume has been translated, but I’m absolutely taken with this series. I read through it once, and then stayed up till 2am re-reading it! The series follows Kawana Tsugumi who is reunited with her first love, Ayukawa, when they’re both working adults. However she’s shocked to find out that Ayukawa is now in a wheelchair. The series follows the complexities around their relationship, with the reader learning more about life with a disability.
When Tsugumi learns of Ayukawa’s situation she is shocked, but it in no way changes her perception of him. Her love for Ayukawa is rekindled and she begins to spend more time with him. Through this she is able to see the world from Ayukawa’s perspective, changing the way that she sees the people around her, and society in general. One particularly poignant scene is when they go to see a film. Ayukawa’s wheelchair causes very slight inconvenience to the people around him – they literally just have to take a step to make way for him. Ayukawa continues on his way, focused on Tsugumi, but Tsugumi is taken aback at the public’s reaction. They stare at Ayukawa and mutter under their breaths, displeased at his very existence.
Another aspect of Ayukawa’s life that the manga points out is accessibility for people with disabilities. In one scene, Ayukawa (who is an architect) fights with his client after his client refuses to include a ramp in his shop design, quoting that it is an unnecessary expense and the general public will not use it. This was a particularly interesting point for me, as in Australia, I feel that there are a lot of facilities to help make life easier for people with disabilities. For example, pretty much every single train station has a lift, cinemas in Australia provide captioned services for people with hearing impairments and all shopping centres (big or small) as well as most bigger eateries have specialised disabled toilets that have extra room and facilities. In my High School, which was a government funded school, a student was enrolling that used a wheelchair, my school quickly organised to have a lift installed and ramps built around the school so that the student would not have any issue. Of course, I’m not saying Australia is perfect, but from reading this manga it really changed my perspective. I realised that I shouldn’t take what is in Australia for granted or that it is the norm. Other people around the world may have access to the structures that are available in my society.
Ultimately the manga tells us the reader that having a disability is not the end of the world. It is a long and difficult road to adapt to life, but it is one worth taking. My father was born blind in one eye, and in response has changed many things in his life. He had to give up his dream of being in the army, and he has many issues when it comes to sight – depth perception, reaction times, even just having a smaller field of vision! But he does what he can to give himself the life that he has always wanted. Just as Ayukawa, who struggled for 6 years after his accident, works each day to ensure that his disability does not mean he has to give up on his dream.
‘Perfect World’ by Aruga Rie gives us insight into life as a disabled person, showing us both the hardships and triumphs of the everyday. On top of this, Rie weaves a mature and heartwarming love story between the two main characters. As the reader, we see a relationship unfold before us, one of support and understanding as the character’s grow together and learn about one another. This series is truly a delight to read and I truly recommend it everyone. I can’t wait till more chapters get translated (or *fingers crossed* it gets licensed in Australia!). I give this series a 10/10