Friday, May 4, 2012

We Were There, Volume 1

We Were There, Volume 1
Yuki Obata
Viz Media, 2008
$8.99, Softcover
February 6th, 2012

Genre: Realistic, Romance
Age: 14+
Description: Nanami (Nana-chan) Takahashi is starting a new high school. She has high hopes of making lots of friends and being popular but those dreams are dashed as she finds it hard to fit in with all the local cliques of girls who have grown up together and are already tight knit friends. She’s inadvertently named class president and finds herself strangely attracted to the hottest boy in class that everyone wants but is unattainable—Motoharu Yano. Unfortunately, he has a dark past—he is still grieving the death of her girlfriend, Nana (Nana-san), who died in a car accident a year ago.
Opinion: The art of this manga is very typical to other popular shojo (a genre of romantic stories for girls) manga. This was an award winning series in Japan. I think most girls who are die-hard shojo fans will stick with this series from beginning to end (currently it is up to 15 volumes) despite its slow start. There are some awkward panel transitions and some characters with similar names—such as our main character Nana and Yano’s old girlfriend who was also given the nickname of Nana (so they use the honorifics of “chan” and “san” to separate them—“chan” being given to younger girls, while “san” is a sign of respect for your older peers). The big conflict of the plot that is established—that Yano’s girlfriend died—isn’t a big shock here but the emotional impact of the story comes from his actual feelings which provide the power of the budding emotional relationship between Nana and Yano. Yano is a contradicting guy—one minute Nana feels she’s breaking through is tough shell and getting through to him and the next she’s confused by his actions. While this first volume seems to just introduce the characters and set the stage for more actual plot, it will be interesting to see where it goes and, as I’ve said, die-hard shojo fans will eat it up.

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