Friday, January 09, 2009

We Were There, vol. 1

Story and Art by Yuki Obata
Released in the US by Viz

Slugline: Almost as confusing and uncertain as a real high school romance.

Nanami has just moved up into high school, and she is hoping to make new friends there. Of course, merely by worrying about it she has all but guaranteed that she will have a hard time fitting in. She can't help but notice that her fellow classmate Yano is acts so carefree and makes friends effortlessly. That begins the process of drawing her to him, and the fact that they are both part of the student government means that she get to see him often, often at his best and worst states. Best in the sense that he has leadership potential but worst in the way that he tries to run away from it and tries to create distance between himself and others. Part of the reason for that is that Nanami discovers that Yano's previous girlfriend died, in the midst of possibly cheating on him. It is the combination of Yano's romantic issues and Nanami's social insecurities that drives the story.

We Were There is a well executed story, not flashy at all, lacking characters with unusual powers or clinically strange behavioral problems. I can believe in Nanami's uncertainty and why Yano acts in turn either as a jerk or uncaring about anything, without having to worry about the characters acting over the top. I especially like one scene where two characters realize that they are talking past each other and clear up the confusion, rather than letting it linger and turn into a 'humorous' misunderstanding. The one problem with the title is that the characters and in many ways the story itself is so aggressively normal and matter of fact that, other than it's execution, there is not much that is memorable or sticks to the mind about it.

We Were There, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga


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