Brief Thoughts On: Qualia the Purple

The premise of Qualia the Purple is a tad complicated, so bear with me here. The story centers around a girl with a curious affliction, called Yukari Marii. In her eyes, everybody in the world is actually a cool robot. Most people think that she is just being weird, but Manabu “Mana” Hatou believes that Yukari is entirely sincere. What Mana doesn’t know is that, in this world, perception makes reality.

PHOTO: Mana and Yukari discussing their friendship.

Due to philosophy and physics beyond the grasp of the average middle schoolers, observation defines what does and doesn’t exist. Because it is Yukari’s sincere observation that people are actually robots, she can interact with them as such. She could realistically unscrew and reassemble a person, if she wanted to. More practically, she can discern a person’s hidden potentials based on what kind of robot she thinks they are. If she sees a person as if they have booster jets on their legs, then they really do have a hidden capacity for running fast.

This is all fun and games at first, but her abilities soon draw the attention of dubious people. And when Yukari finds herself in mortal peril, Mana discovers a reality-altering power of her own.

PHOTO: Mana ponders on the nature of the Schrödinger's Cat experiment, reasoning that a truth can only be determined if she can be certain that she herself is not part of an even greater quantum experiment.

What follows is a gripping thriller story spanning 18 thick chapters. While I want to be careful not to spoil too much, Qualia the Purple feels comparable to the likes of Steins;Gate or In Search of the Lost Future. It’s a tale about fighting destiny by trial & error. Steadily chipping away at the impenetrable walls of reality to bring about an “impossible” future.

This story gets intense. Mana becomes increasingly capable as she faces setback after setback, many of them ending in violent tragedy. The shifts in her personality are tangible, as she herself becomes more prone to violence. In her single-minded mission to save Yukari, Mana soon begins to lose grasp of her own humanity. Is that passion or is it obsession?

PHOTO: Alice is shocked when Mana finds her.

A potential downside to the story is just how deeply it is steeped in psychology and obscure sciences. The pace frequently comes to a grinding halt as dozens of pages need to be dedicated to explanations of quantum physics or thought experiments. It’s necessary info to understand what’s happening in the plot, but the exposition dump approach often feels like an inelegant solution.

If you can bear with occasionally having to binge 40 pages of science babble, then Qualia the Purple does come highly recommended. It’s a captivating story with fascinating characters and great emotional stakes.

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