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June 28, 2010

Bento Bako Weekly: We Were There vol. 11

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Written by: Kristin
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Title: We Were There
Author: Yuki Obata
Publisher: Viz Media
Volume: Volume 11, ongoing, $9.99
Vintage: 2006 by Shogakukan in Japan, scheduled for release by Viz Media on July 6, 2010
Genre: Shojo, romance, great for older teens (occasionally the series has sexual situations), drama (lots of drama)

The story so far:  Nanami Takahashi finally worked up the courage to confess her feelings to her high school crush Motoharu Yano.  Their relationship is rocky due to Yano’s trust issues, which derive from  a former girlfriend who died in a car accident with her ex-boyfriend.  Their on again/off again relationship is further troubled by two classmates: Masafumi Takeuchi, Yano’s best friend, who is in love with Nanami; and Yuri Yamamoto, the younger sister of Yano’s deceased girlfriend, who has feelings for Yano.  Eventually Nanami can no longer handle Yano’s inability to move on from his feelings about his former girlfriend, and they break up, creating an opportunity for Takeuchi to make his move.  Nanami has strong feelings of friendship for Takeuchi, but is in love with Yano, so she rejects him.  Nanami and Yano get back together, but then Yano has to move to Tokyo with his mother.  They keep in touch regularly, and they both work hard so they can be together again when they go to college, until one day contact from Yano simply stops, and Nanami never hears from him again.  Several years later, Nanami and Takeuchi are college graduates and members of the work force.  Takeuchi has been gently, but earnestly, pursuing Nanami once again.  Nanami finds herself working with a girl named Akiko Sengenji, who attended high school in Tokyo with Yano.  Everyone that knew Yano is now trying to put the pieces of his disappearance together.

Volume 11 continues with the flashback from volume 10 (that started in volume 9).  Yano is attending high school in Tokyo, and trying his best to take care of his sick mother.  Akiko, who knows that Yano has a girlfriend he is waiting for, tries to reconcile herself with being a good friend to him.  As Yano’s mother becomes sicker, they are visited by the wife (widow) of Yano’s father.  She is looking for an heir to the father’s family, and wants that to be Yano.  This enrages Yano’s mother, and the stress takes a harsh toll on her mind and body.  As she gets desperate, Yano realizes that he and his mother are very alike, sharing trust and abandonment issues.  As Yano struggles on alone, his longing to be with Nanami increases.  Finally Yano makes a decision, but how will it effect his mother?

Back in the present time, Nanami and Takeuchi are dating each other, but Nanami can’t stop thinking about Yano.  Takeuchi has a big surprise planned for Nanami’s birthday, but Akiko stumbles upon a secret that could turn everyone’s lives upside down all over again.

Ah, that sounds interesting when I type it up like that.  I’ve been reading this since volume 1, but I’m getting a bit bored by it, honestly.  It just drags on and on.  It leaped ahead into the “future” and I thought things would finally progress, then we got 2-3 volumes of flashback.  There is so much drama in this series too.  Yano is a real mess mentally and emotionally, so I can see how Nanami would want to love, nurture, and protect him; but sometimes, there’s only so much you can do.  When your efforts aren’t helping, and you’re pushed away, what can you do?  Linger on it forever?  When you’re abandoned without a single word?  Nanami needs to move on.  If she ends up with Yano in the end instead of Takeuchi, I’ll be very put out.  Her relationship with Yano is just so unhealthy; I don’t want to see the character get pulled back into that.

There’s some deep stuff in the middle of all the drama if you look for it.  The stuff that makes this a Shogakukan Manga Award winner, and that makes other reviewers rate the title higher than I would.  I’ve been drifting a little toward indifference for a while.  Yano’s relationship with his mother is interesting, and helps explain why his relationships with his girlfriends are such a mess.  Yano has a great reliance on the women around him.  He does his best to fulfill their needs and protect them, so when he’s betrayed, he’s devastated.  There’s a nice conversation in this volume between Akiko and a friend of hers about Yano, describing how people who are relied on are just as psychology dependent as those who need someone to rely on.  Dependency, desertion, love, trust, happiness, death….  These themes are all carried throughout the series, and are very strong in this particular volume.  It’s a gentle series, with emotional depth, but it’s paced quite slowly.  It’s up to thirteen volumes in Japan and still going, and I can’t imagine how it can possibly be stretched out even more.

Kris
kristin@comicattack.net
@girlg33k_Kris

Review copy provided by Viz Media.

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kristin Bomba, Kristin Bomba. Kristin Bomba said: New Review: @Viz_Media's We Were There vol 11 @comicattack http://comicattack.net/2010/06/bbwwewerethere11/ #manga […]



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