Be With You

April 3, 2008 at 10:07 am 26 comments

Before Mio dies, she promises her husband Takkun and son Yuji that she will come back to visit them when the rainy season arrives. She tells her son of a planet named Archive where the dead people go and live while their loved ones on Earth still remember them. That’s where she’ll be waiting.

Takkun and Yuji are barely coping after Mio’s death – a process complicated by Takkun’s health problems (he has some sort of chemical imbalance that causes seizures and poor health as well as some mental issues) and by the fact that neither of them really know how to get through the day to day stuff without her around.

One day at the beginning of the rainy season the two are walking through the woods and at the ruins of an old building they come across Mio, standing in the rain and with no memory of her life on Earth. Deciding not to tell her that’s she’s been dead, they take her home and start to try to rebuild some of their old life together.

As the days go by, Takkun tells Mio the story of how they met in high school (they always sat near each other in class) and how they got together in their twenties, slowly building a relationship together that nearly crumbles when Takkun is overwhelmed by the sudden arrival of his health breakdown and pushes Mio away so that she can have a happy life without him. Their love story is intertwined with Mio learning to be a mother to Yuji and falling in love with Takkun again.

Be With You is a Japanese novel by Takuji Ichikawa that was adapted into a single volume manga. I read the manga a couple of weeks back and fell in love with it. The story was both uplifting and heartbreaking (little Yuji is thrilled to have his mother back and seems okay with her eventually going back for most of the story, but Takkun knows from the start just how hard it’s going to be to lose the love of his life for the second time) and when I finished it I started recommending it to my friends. It’s hard to describe a lot of what I loved about it without giving away the ending, though. That was such a large part of the wonderful surprise for me. I liked that they managed to convey a message of love, acceptance and sacrifice in such a non-cheesy way. And yes, I cried a bit while reading the manga.

The novel I read after the manga (I finished it today while on the train here in Japan, which seems appropriate). There are some slight differences in the story – Takkun works for a lawyer instead of a library, but he still needs to ride his bike everywhere because he has a problem with confined spaces. There is the addition of an old man they meet in the park, while the manga has Mio’s mother showing up out of concern for whether or not Takkun is a good father and husband. I think there are differences in how Archive is introduced to Yuji, but I admit my memory isn’t clear on that right now and I don’t have the manga with me. I was pleasantly surprised by liking the translation though. I have a history of not liking how stilted Japanese novelizations can be when translated into English.

All in all, I recommend both. I think I liked the manga a bit more, but that’s because I read it first and I rather like the images. It also does well in presenting the entire story in one volume without feeling rushed. The novel has a bit more depth and thought in it, mostly because it’s easier to describe the situation a little more, as well as having the time to expand on characterizations.

(I’m having trouble with the copy and paste on this computer so I’ll add links to the books later. Both are from Viz. Go look them up on Amazon or something.) :)


Entry filed under: books, manga.

A sad shopping failure So sad to be leaving

26 Comments Add your own

  • 1. XenMaster  |  April 3, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    I found both versions on Amazon. You make me want to read it, but I can’t decide which one I should invest in.

  • 2. pajcat  |  April 3, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    Ooh, interesting problem. And they both probably cost the same…

    I have no advice. Hmm. If I had to choose, I might pick the manga. Same story, faster read and I’d probably reread it more than I would the novel.

    Or… I want to finally have everyone over to my place when I get back. You can always look at them there and then decide. :) If you come, that is…

  • […] Eye at the Manga Maniac Cafe. At it can’t all be about manga, Cathy reads the novel and manga Be With You Rob Vollmar recomments vol. 3 of Phoenix at Comics Worth Reading. Michelle finds lots to like about […]

  • 4. XenMaster  |  April 6, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    I think I will take you up on the offer to come over and sample novels and manga. Just let me know when.

  • 5. badtzphoto  |  May 17, 2008 at 11:51 pm

    I got both books after reading your review :)
    I read the novel first because I think that the manga is an adaptation of the novel kind of like I always read the book and then watch the movie adaptation – I’m just weird :) I prefer the novel to the manga. Why? I guess because I read it first and it left a great impression in me. It feels more like reading a prose than a fiction. It was heavy stuff. Also, I’m not sure I like the changes that are made in the manga. I tried to think if it’s necessary to add Mio’s mother, substituting the old man with the doctor, or changing Takkun’s job, The good news is the essence of relationships aren’t changed – otherwise, what’s the point?
    I had to unwind myself by rereading something fluffy. Even though, I know the ending, I still cried while reading the manga. Weird, huh?
    I read somewhere in your blog about “Socrates In Love” and am thinking of checking it out – not that I’m ready for another tragic ending – but it reminds me of a Russian movie back in the 80’s I think. It was about a Russian guy who went to Japan and met a Japanese girl. You’ve guessed it, they fell in love, but she had some complications because of the a-bomb and died at the end of the movie. Have you read the novel?

  • 6. pajcat  |  May 18, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    Hmm, I actually like a few changes when I’m reading the same “story” in two formats. Makes it less boring. That’s why I’m less likely to be interested in both an anime and manga if they’re the same. Like… Naruto anime=boring, Fullmetal Alchemist=good.

    I also tend to tell people interested in Fruits Basket to watch the anime first if you can. That way you don’t have a “what’s missing” feeling when the little subtle bits from the manga are left out….

    I really liked the Socrates in Love manga (it made me cry, dammit!) but I don’t think I read the book. I remember there were chapter previews for it and Kamikaze Girls (see the movie!!) in manga around then and I didn’t really like the one for Kamikaze Girls. Made me less interested in the Socrates in Love novel. But I really can’t remember if I read it or not… huh. I’m leaning towards no.

    And sorry for responding to this so late. I’ve been busy having my mind blown by Supernatural and Battlestar Galactica. And sleeping when I’m not at work for some reason. I think I’ve been getting over the contact lens illness I had all week. :)

    (And I’m back to the glasses after going to the optometrist and finding out that the contacts were tilting about 10 degrees off which was causing the blurring/dizziness. I’m waiting for a new trial pair to come in now…)

  • 7. pajcat  |  May 18, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    Actually, Fullmetal Alchemist anime=damn good with lots of Al-induced weeping on my part. Damn that kid could haul me over an emotional barrel.

    And I’m not really a weeper, truth be told…

  • 8. badtzphoto  |  May 19, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    oh, don’t worry about late reply. A reply any time is better than no reply :) I’m sorry that your contacts still give you troubles.

    Just a sad note, ADV may have dropped Yotsuba&! …:(

    “Hmm, I actually like a few changes when I’m reading the same “story” in two formats. Makes it less boring.”
    I’m just resisting to any changes that’s all. A sign of aging, I tell you ;)

    hm, still am not sure what to do about “Socrates in love” yet.
    Now I know why gatcha gacha 8’s date on amazon is 12/08 – seeing the book was copyrighted in Japan 4/08… not sure if you’re interested in this info or not …

  • 9. pajcat  |  May 19, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    Okay, someone needs to warn the Japanese people about ADV. What the hell?? I’m happy now that I picked up the newest Yotsuba volumes when I was in Japan. grr.

    Contacts are no longer being worn! I got tired of taking anti-dizzy meds. :) The new glasses are a big improvement.

    My sign of aging is being indignant that people seem to have not been educated in the “stand right walk left” rule on the escalator…

    I say, Socretes in Love manga! I don’t think the earlier translations were very good. YMMV. :)

    I read Gatcha Gacha this morning before work. It was more interesting than I thought it would be (I got over the lack of relationship stuff which helped) tho I think I’ve forgotten too much about what’s her names family. (The pervy tall girl. Can’t remember her name right now.)

  • 10. pajcat  |  May 19, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    earlier translations = awkward novels, btw.

  • 11. badtzphoto  |  May 19, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    what does this stand for? I’m behind with the acronyms :)

    “”stand right walk left” rule on the escalator…”
    you mean there is such a rule? oops ;)

    Motoko chan :) She’s one confusing character to me. I hope the next one explains why she’s that way –

    I’ve heard contacts weren’t for everyone. I’m sorry that didn’t work out.

    “Socrates in love” manga it is.

    I’m really bugged about Yotsuba – grrr, too. Fortunately I saw new volumes when I went to Japantown last weekend. I’ll be sure get those next time I go. Maybe I can start learning Japanese reading Yotsuba, hein?

  • 12. pajcat  |  May 19, 2008 at 11:57 pm

    Oh, gosh I just figured YMMV a little while back. “Your milage may vary.” I usually don’t use abbreviations like that. :)

    I’m getting new contacts – the optometrist just had to order me a new pair in a different prescription to account for the tilting. We’ll see if the new trial contacts are better.

    Ha, it seems like she’s always been a bit odd, if those flashbacks were any indication. Her parents seemed kind of exasperated with her anyway.

    And as my friend always says, “what’s up with all the orphans in manga?” Whenever I mention a series to her she always asks if the main characters parents are dead…

    Stand right walk left is the most important escalator rule there is!! Tho the people who feel compelled to run up down escalators are even worse…

  • 13. badtzphoto  |  May 20, 2008 at 1:28 am

    regarding orphans in children books in general:
    Once Terry Gross interviewed the other of “The unfortunate events” series. She commented that (and I paraphased here) in all or most of the children books (literature), the main character or characters are either orphans or at least missing the mother and she asked him the reason. His answer where if the parents and particularly the mother were around, the character won’t be able to get into all the troubles and adventures that make the stories interesting. So it’s not just manga, fairy tales, Harry Potter series. Dotting parents/mothers are such kill-joys :P

    I was teasing you about the elevator rule :)

    Ah, I learnt something new. Thanks. The other day, I learn TBH = to be honest :)

  • 14. badtzphoto  |  May 20, 2008 at 1:29 am

    “… interviewed the other of … ”
    I meant author (I can’t type – ugh!)

  • 15. pajcat  |  May 20, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    I’m okay with being teased about escalators. I know it’s silly, it’s just one of those simple polite things that people don’t bother doing anymore… And I’m not even that old!!

    May I say how disoriented I was in Japan where the rule was stand left, walk right? sheesh!

    I spent part of the day today over at One Manga reading a scanlated series called Midnight Secretary, about a secretary that finds out that her boss is a vampire. (DUN!!) It was kind of fun and reminded me a bit of those cheesy paranormal romances I try not to read anymore. (I prefer ghosts in my cheesy paranormal romances, thank you!) If you’re interested… it doesn’t seem to be done yet, but there were two volumes up, I think.

    Such a change over the orphened teenagers! :P

  • 16. badtzphoto  |  May 20, 2008 at 11:17 pm

    What a coincidence, I was on one manga checking out “Nodame Cantabile” after seeing it in your libary with a * next to it. Your manga list is my ultimate reference :)

    Hm, not sure if vampire is my cup of tea because there’s always blood in it. In the Shojobeat issue, there was a chapter of Vampire Knight, so I read it, I can’t get over the bloody stuffs to get into the story … I like fluffy stuffs fluffy :)

  • 17. pajcat  |  May 20, 2008 at 11:20 pm

    Ah, it’s just discrete little drops. Nothing too bad. The vampire drinks blood from pretty ladies. That’s why I said it was like a romance novel. They always want vampires to be all tortured and hawt and stuff… :)

    Nodame! I actually bought the first couple of volumes then traded them in. Too weird for me! Then I started getting them from the library and fell in love with the series so I had to start buying them again. It’s such a fun series!

    Gah! I’m so easy when it comes to manga. I’ll buy almost anything. I like recommendations, though so tell me if I’m missing out on something great!

  • 18. pajcat  |  May 20, 2008 at 11:22 pm

    And I’m rereading Skip Beat AGAIN tonight. I saw a new series by the author of Hot Gimmick (which I liked despite the critisism it got) and it’s about a girl who wants to get revenge against her actress mother by becoming an actress herself. It’s less wacky than Skip Beat but the guys are hotter. heh.

    (It’s called Honey Hunt if you’re interested. I think it started out well enough!)

  • 19. badtzphoto  |  May 21, 2008 at 12:17 am

    “… the guys are hotter. heh.”
    No way, you say that someone is hotter than Ren ;) I have to check it out … after I finish “Tramps like us” you are an enabler ;)
    well, it’s like how I feel about Tail of the moon. The main protagonist really annoys me but her love interest is such a hunk, and I’m so shallow, so I got it because of him and others. She seems to grow a bit but she can’t help but getting herself and other people into trouble. And it’s a ninja story, too. I think the redeeming values of the series is the extras that the author puts in the book.

    Anyway, I think these following series are a bit under appreciated: Someday’s dreamers by Norie Yamada (story) Kumichi Yoshizuki (art): only 2 books about a magic user studying for her license … it’s not much of a love story more like a growing. There is another one by the same authors called Spellbound (Someday`s Dreamers) (5 volumes) so longer story also about magic users different characters. The main character didn’t want to be a magic user and her time was running out, if she didn’t study for her license by the time she’s 18 (I think), then her talent will go to waste. Both stories are set in modern time – kind of like Harry Potter but there is no fighting between good and evil, just a come to age kind of story, some angsts but not much. I got these when bookclosedouts had 75% off on Tokyopop books – so I thought I checked out these – $2.50 for a book that I may not like is not bad a deal ;) It’s hard for me to recommend something since my reputation is on the line – you’d think that I read such crap :)

  • 20. badtzphoto  |  May 21, 2008 at 12:26 am

    Ms Garrity is an editor at viz and she had this recommended series at her livejournal: Overlooked Manga Festivities

  • 21. pajcat  |  May 21, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    Even though I love Skip Beat, I think the art is only okay. What’s up with everyone’s huge heads?? There’s like, a foot of space above everyone’s hairlines!! And Ren is freakishly taller than Kyoko…

    But I ended up staying up until about 3 am reading a series I’ve already read four times so it’s not like the art is offputting. :)

    I saw the anime for Somday’s Dreamers which is why I think I didn’t pick up the manga. Hmm. Maybe I’ll see if the store has it in next time I’m working.

    Today I picked up I, Otaku #2 (the first one was FUN!) and was sad that the last two comic stores I went to didn’t have Venus in Love 3. It was at the store where I got my comics so I just assumed everyone would have it. :(

    And I never judge anyone’s taste in manga, with the possible exception of people who actually like Death Note past the first few volumes. I’ve got some weird ones myself. :)

  • 22. badtzphoto  |  May 23, 2008 at 12:19 am

    “Honey Hunt” – I can’t remember reading any mangas with heroine wearing glasses, and one of the guys wear glasses, too. So I’m there :) It looks like Venus In Love will be on my list very soon, too – hee.

  • 23. pajcat  |  May 23, 2008 at 7:00 am

    Venus in Love #1 was good. Sooo much better than King of the Lamp! I really liked Tenshi Ja Nai so I was relieved when I liked Venus in Love.

    You have a thing for glasses?? :)

  • 24. badtzphoto  |  May 23, 2008 at 11:08 am

    Yeah. It’s embarrassing but when I was in grade school, I always wanted to be nearsighted so that I could wear glasses. They look very intellectual. Guess what my eyesight is 20/20. I know I can always wear fake glasses but that’d be lying :)
    Anyway, it’s rare to see a heroine with glasses – so…
    Oh, I like Tenshi Ja Nai, too, even though I thought the ending was a bit abrupt, I always have something to complain about, don’t I? :)

  • 25. cathy  |  May 23, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    Oh, gosh. Not to burst your bubble, but they take those puppies away from her pretty quickly. I guess classy rich girls don’t wear glasses. :)

    I was one of those weird kids that thought having a retainer would be cool…

  • 26. badtzphoto  |  May 23, 2008 at 10:38 pm

    ah well, one can’t have everything :)

    I’m reading Shiawase Kissa Sanchoume at the moment and finding it amusing – 2 guys and 1 girl work in a coffee shop called “cafe bonheur” – no glasses unfortunately but the girl is very strong, she keeps breaking cups and things ;)


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