Greetings! Hopefully, the week isn’t too hard on you. We’re in the last stretch of December and the winter has finally started showing signs, before, the days were pretty warm and sunny. Today, I’m here to review, and of course recommend-with-a-capital-R Pan Focus, a Girl’s Love manhwa that is very dear to me.
Pan Focus was recommended by a friend over Twitter. I think she managed to get a lot of other people in our circle to take it up, but in all honesty, it’s what this series deserves. I’ve always wanted to write on it, but for reasons I’ll get to in a couple of paragraphs, I had a hard time coming up with what to say. Now that the series has come to an end and I need to come to terms with its update not gracing my Wednesday evenings, it felt like a good time to introduce Pan Focus to you.
If mangas are anything to go by, libraries are magical places. Not only they are the doors to the world concentrated and printed on paper, but they are also places that can bring soulmates together. Susie is one of those people. When she is asked by the librarian to place some of the returned books on higher shelves, she comes across a story anthology of their high school. One of them piques her interest, written by Sora Lim, who is another student in the same year as her. Soon they meet in person and spend three years of high school together.
Now almost in her 30’s, Susie finds herself reminiscing more and more of Sora, the time she spent with her, and the reason they had to fall out of contact. But you know, if faith didn’t bring these two together, we wouldn’t be reading such a beautiful story. Hence, I’ll leave it to you to experience Susie and Sora’s reunion, how acting impulsively one night back in university is still hanging in the air between Susie and her friend Daun, and overall, two charming people finding each other again after all these years.
If I had to use an analogy for this series, I’d say it’s like the flow of a stream. Ever-changing, but looks more or less the same from the outside. Like a stream, sometimes it flows faster due to seasonal rain, or playfully reflects the sunlight on its surface. You may occasionally see a dried tree branch gently following its course, or fish making their way. Countless microorganisms that aren’t even visible to the naked eye. But it’d still be the same stream you’d catch a glimpse of on your excursion.
Its beauty lies in the experience of it: you have to be there to see it or dip your toes to feel its movement or coolness, given the weather allows.
Pan Focus is exactly that kind of story. In its everydayness, nothing happens but a lot happens at the same time. Plot progression is so gradual and ordinary that you don’t even realize grand changes are occurring under its serene exterior. That’s what makes it so hard to talk about, but also where lies its biggest strength and charm. Accompanied by a beautiful and uncomplicated art style, it’s a manhwa you have to experience for yourself. But that doesn’t mean I won’t try to convince you to take it up.
Over the years, I came to believe that what matters in a relationship is approaching your interests in a similar manner, rather than liking the same things. Sora and Susie being neither complete opposites nor carbon copies of each other allow a delicate balance where they are comfortable in each other’s presence. With its adult and female-heavy cast, we accompany them not only on their journey of coming together but also their worries over the troubles they face in the workplace, cozy get-togethers with friends, or them discovering new restaurants to try out. Just being there for each other and supporting their partner the best they can.
Pan Focus does incorporate some romance tropes like Susie’s friend Daun still being hung up on her even though she has a partner or misunderstandings here and there. However, none of these are heavily dramatized and take up a big space in the narrative. Instead, they are resolved in the most level-headed ways and the story moves on. Another point scored in my book was, although I’d selfishly say it didn’t feel enough, in almost half of the series Susie and Sora are in a relationship. As you may know, established relationships rarely get the center in the romance genre. Hence, I was immensely happy that I got to see them staying at each others’ places, cooking, and drinking together. But, yeah… I needed at least another 767362764 chapters of them living together in bliss.
I will eventually make a GL recommendation list as per the request of the same friend, but I wanted to write about Pan Focus in detail because it’s a marvelous title that deserves your love and attention. It’s a testament to not every romantic story has to have convoluted subplots, destructive jealousy streaks, or unnecessary drama to be interesting. Not that I don’t love me some juicy, over-the-top stuff from time to time. However, stories like Pan Focus are the ones that truly thug on my heartstrings. Or, to quote Sora’s sister, they are the real ones.
Do you have any favorite GL manga/manhwa? What are your favorite tropes or themes in the genre? Let me know in the comments and see you tomorrow!
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