We Were There Vol. 1 by Yuki Obata (a J!-ENT Manga Review)
December 1, 2008 by Dennis Amith
“The first volume of the shojo manga ‘We Were There’ features a fun storyline as we see life through the eyes of teenager Nanami Takahashi and how she deals with being a first-year student in high school, trying to make new friends but most of all, dealing with her own emotions after developing a crush on the popular Motoharu Yano.”
(C) Image courtesy of Yuuki OBATA/Shogakukan, Inc.
MANGA TITLE: We Were There Vol. 1 (Bokura ga Ita)
STORY AND ART BY: Yuki Obata (小畑 友紀)
FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: By Shogakukan
PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC
RATED: T for Older Teen
Worrying is a privilege of the living, isn’t it?
Nanami Takahashi falls for Motoharu Yano, the most popular, carefree boy in class. For Nanami, it’s first love, but Yano is still grieving the death of his girlfriend who died the year before.
Nanami starts high school with high hopes of making lots of friends. She develops a crush on the enigmatic Yano, but he may have too many secrets for her to handle.
The award-winning series known in Japan as “Bokura ga Ita”.
The popular award winning manga series “Bokura ga Ita” by Yuki Obata arrives stateside via the title “We Were There” through Viz Media’s Shojou Beat Manga imprint.
The manga which won the “2005 Shogakukan Manga Award” for shojo manga has sold 7.6 million copies in Japan and not long after, in July 2006 was adapted to a 26-episode anime series. With a popular storyline, not only is it great to finally have the manga series in the US but due to its popularity, it’s great to know that the manga which was first serialized in Betsucomi back in Oct. 2002 is still ongoing in Japan to this day.
The first volume focuses on Nanami Takahashi. A teenager who is just entering high school and like most teenagers entering high school, having to deal with life of having to find new friends, getting involved in school activities and also dealing with emotions. In this case, her crush on the most popular student in school Motoharu Yano.
Nanami (or Nana-chan) is not really head smart and if anything, she tends to have so many things going through her mind and somewhat lacking confidence in her own emotions to express herself.
But her interest in the most popualr guy in school has suddenly caught her off guard. But each time she feels drawn to Yano, he does something very nice and sincere and once you think everything looks good between the two, Yano will do something that really ticks her off.
So, to say the least, throughout this first volume, it’s about Nanami (or Nana-chan) wanting to get closer to Yano but wondering how she should deal with the emotions that she is currently feeling. Should she express those feelings towards Yano?
At high school, Nanami makes new friends but one person catches her interest. In class, she sits next to a smart and very quiet girl named Yuri Yamamoto. When she asks Yuri about Yano, Yuri makes a comment that she detests Yano. Nana doesn’t understand why all girls think Yano is so hot but yet Yuri doesn’t like him at all.
But Nana starts to learn more about Yano and learns that his ex-girlfriend died in a car accident a year ago. Her name was Nana and was the older sister of her Nanami’s classmate Yuri. This derails Nanami’s plan to express her feelings of her crush to Yano and knowing that his ex-girlfriend was beautiful, older and popular, she feels that she doesn’t have a chance.
But everyday is a new day and Nanami does what she can to motivate herself and express those feelings she has inside. Will she be able to?
When it comes to shojo manga, may it be a storyline such as “Hana Yori no Dango” or “Kare Kano”, there are plenty of manga series that revolve around high school love. But so far, I think that readers can get a sense of the purity of Nanami’ s character and these are genuine feelings that not just girls share but also boys who enter a new high school and has a crush on someone.
There is no ulterior motive, there is no villain. This is pretty much a drama-like series that focuses on emotions that anyone can possibly related to when they were younger or are currently that age and going through it right now.
Overall, the first volume features a pure and humorous storyline. Nanami is just a pleasant character while Yano is your typical cool guy character who likes to play with Nanami’s emotions. And the interaction between the two is quite interesting. At times where you feel like Yano is a jerk, you’ll see him coming through for her and overall, you just want to see how the two interact with each other, if there is chemistry and wonder when or if the two will get together.
Obata’s artwork is simple and clean but she puts a lot of emphasis on the eyes and the emotions of the character. Obata effectively uses quite large panels effectively in getting a person’s emotions across. Overall, the artwork and storytelling naturally blend quite well with each other.
Overall, “We Were There” is an enjoyably, fun shojo manga and vol. 1 pretty much captures the emotions of teenage angst but the happiness and sadness that goes along with the emotions that Nanami has throughout each chapter.
With “We Were There”, these are realistic emotions that any person can feel for a person and I like how Nanami says one thing but in her mind, she constantly thinks if what she did was the right thing or not. A rather indecisive person but she’s portrayed as a girl who has her faults, is aware of it, others are aware of it but yet manages to make the best of her life.
All in all, the first volume was enjoyable to read. There is a good amount of humor but most of all, a good balance of emotion and a touching storyline in the first “We Were There” vol. 1. An enjoyable manga to read and I look forward to seeing how this relationship between the two progresses.
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