In Japanese folklore, each person has a red string tied to their ring finger, attached to their destined love, waiting for them. Miharu Ogawa, high school freshman, always thought it simply a story; but when her parents announce they have arranged a marriage for her, her world is thrown upside down.
Upset, Miharu feels betrayed by her parents, until she accidentally bumps into her betrothed, Kazuo. Suddenly, she finds herself falling for the one person she doesn’t want to love. To make matters worse, her cousin Karen apparently has plans to snag Kazuo herself. Meanwhile, Miharu’s best friend Reika is in love with one of the popular boys at school, but finds herself drawn to the class loner, Eiji. And their new friend, Fuuko, is realizing her admiration for an upperclassman, Maya, might be deeper than hero-worship. Add in eccentric parents, school bullies, and harsh teachers, and the ancient legend becomes a Gordian Knot, with Miharu at the center.
Red String is Gina Biggs’ most well-known work. While following what starts out as a typical high school romance tale, the plot delves deeper into issues of parental pressure, coping with stress, and finding the inner strength to overcome, instead of giving in to dilemmas. The characters and relationships evolve, changing from sweet and flirty, to mature and sincere, following the natural progression of teenagers growing into adulthood. The inclusion of a homosexual relationship is also handled very well. Rather than sensationalize the shock factor, the characters react with ordinary responses, both in positive and negative aspects. In keeping with the romantic genre, there are sex scenes within the story, but they are relative to the plot, not gratuitous, and are not graphic, with the focus being on character interaction, not erotic action. However, Biggs has created several adult stories concerning the characters, which are only available at Filthy Figments, a website dedicated to erotic comics for women, by women.
The artwork is similar to conventional manga techniques; Biggs, however, does not call her work manga, stating her “art is influenced by many different artists and writers, both American and Japanese.” While meant for American readers, the plot, characters, and overall story use Japanese ethos, culture, and traditions. Unlike many stories that simply “Westernize” popular Japanese culture, Biggs uses the story’s setting to highlight and share a different culture, within the familiar theme of a love story.
The art is drawn in a monochromatic scheme, although Biggs uses color pages for the chapter covers. The panels on each page are evenly spaced apart, sometimes placed against a larger, plain background, and rarely overlap, smoothing the narrative flow, instead of having multiple actions on the same page, a choice that reduces confusion for the reader.
Although the series has ended online, the comic is still up for viewing. All eight printed volumes are available in Biggs’ online store. You can read the comic at Redstrings.com. You can read her adult comics at FilthyFigments.com.