By William Moo
Manga is known for their characters with expressive eyes, small mouths, and distinguished personalities. But what if one of the main characters doesn’t have a face? Will the story still be entertaining and engaging? Or will it be an unsettling read? That’s what The Girl Without A Face by tearontaron plans to find out in this interesting slice of life love story with a supernatural twist.
The manga is essentially a series of everyday vignettes showcasing the relationship between an unnamed boy and his girlfriend without a face. It largely takes place in a town situated in another realm called Zabo Town. The girlfriend is a Japanese spirit called a Nopperabo, but the other folkloric spirits of the realm call her Noppeko. Despite the fact that the girl has no face, it doesn’t stop the manga from being a cute story that highlights the couple’s cozy life together, while working through misunderstanding and miscommunication between them.
It’s a simple love story that works to the strength of its unique heroine and really makes us care for the couple. Part of the fun in reading this manga and why I’m fascinated with it is the interpretation of the girlfriend’s feelings, seeing as how she has no eyes, nose, or mouth. You can, however, get some hints on how she’s feeling through subtle reactions like a blush or dark, shaded clouds hanging near her forehead. Having a girlfriend without a face would scare anyone away, but the manga alleviates our fears by making her an adorable girl like anyone else.
Every chapter starts with a monologue from the boyfriend that essentially summarizes what his day with his faceless girlfriend is about. To paraphrase, it always begins with “I’ve got a girlfriend, she has no face, it’s hard to understand her sometimes, but life is full of mysteries anyways.” The plot then focuses on how the couple overcomes common difficulties in communication and empathy. Here is when the highlights of a slice-of-life romcom would come in, focusing on the couple going out on dates, cooking for each other at home, dealing with colds, and flirting daily.
In a manga that features Japanese spirits and a faceless girl, I never would’ve expected a charming, sentimental story with such cute, little moments. The creator, tearontaron, does a great job spotlighting Noppeko’s humanity. She’s much more than a spirit and this is demonstrated through her relationship with her close childhood friend, Oniko. She’s an oni (demon) that is constantly picked on by other spirits and easily distressed when she sees their facial expressions. Knowing Noppeko has no face, she’s able to get along and understand her better than others would. Their long lasting friendship is thus built upon a mutual respect for each other’s worth and time.
The Girl Without A Face may sound like the next best horror manga, but it should be enjoyed as a mushy, sweet tale of a boy and girl who love each other really much. Even if one of them is a spirit with no facial features whatsoever.
The Girl Without A Face
William Moo is a freelance writer and video content producer. You can find his YouTube channel, which features video essays and commentary on Japanese animation, here, or follow him on Twitter here!
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