We Were There Book 5

In general, I like Viz’s non-fantasy shojo manga series about the love lives of schoolgirls, but this one hasn’t quite clicked for me. I think it may be because it’s SO emotional. Reading a volume is like reliving every traumatic moment of high school, doubled.

Don’t get me wrong, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I can see that serving as a kind of catharsis for some readers, or appealing to those who like really affecting and involving dramas.

We Were There Book 5 cover
We Were There Book 5
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As this volume opens, Nanami has broken up with Yano because of unresolved issues. Yano’s dead girlfriend Nana is still on his mind. I didn’t read the previous volumes, so I don’t know how reasonable this decision was. If he’s fixated, so that no living girl can live up to his memories, then it was a good idea; if she expects him to forget all of his past and focus only on her, then she’s being silly.

The ex-couple are navigating the waters of getting used to not being together. Rumors fly about the reasons why. He’s popular, so finding new company isn’t a problem for him, but he still hurts. She’s dealing more quietly, although the first time she talks to him in class afterward is a major challenge.

And then there’s Masafumi, Yano’s friend who decides that this would be an excellent time to make a play for his ex-girlfriend, just to spice things up — in a very languorous, extended way, of course. I have nothing to say about the art other than that it’s shojo standard — lots of faces with big shiny eyes framed by good hair.

There are plenty of big symbolic moments and much focus on who feels what when. It all seems a little young to me, by which I mean that adults have learned that you don’t have to give in to every feeling or even acknowledge them if they’re too painful. These kids have no worries other than how they feel, and they wallow in it. It’s a shame that this is rated for Older Teens (I don’t know why, unless it’s simply having a character death in the background) because I think a younger group would enjoy it more, living vicariously through these over-emotional characters.

In a way, this is too realistic for me. I know teens do behave like this, having endless conversations about What Is Love Really? and believing that every snag in the road is the Worst Thing in Their Life Ever (until the next one comes along), but … why do I want to read about it? THAT piece, the spark of observation that shows me something new or the particularly well-drawn moment that perfectly encapsulates a feeling, that’s what’s missing from this book.

After three chapters of the story, there’s a bonus piece showing the two boys when they were younger, at a time when another girl came between them. (A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.)


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