I Am Here! Book 1

Hikage Sumino is a shy, plain girl with no friends who is invisible to a ridiculous degree. For instance, she gets hit with a motorbike because the driver didn’t see her in the road while she was saving a cat crossing the busy street.

Hinata and Teru are the most popular boys in their middle school. While nursing a sunflower plant, Hikage and Hinata talk — he’s noticed her, knows her name, and says he’s been watching her for a long time. The thing that sets this apart from many other similar stories is Hikage’s hobby. She maintains a blog under the name Sunflower, with two internet friends, Mega Pig and Black Rabbit, who read her posts and comment to encourage her. Her online friends aren’t enough for her, though; she wants one in real life.

I Am Here! Book 1 cover
I Am Here! Book 1
Buy this book

Even with that element, the whole story felt overly familiar, with elements of Kimi ni Todoke (the quiet girl brought to classmates’ notice through a popular boy’s attention), Imadoki (two classmates bond through gardening), Gakuen Prince (bullying by female classmates), and Train Man (internet commenters telling one of their own how to succeed with dating). I frequently knew what plot point was coming up next, including guessing the book’s cliffhanger about two chapters in. The art style is generic manga cute, which makes the characters look like they’re eight years old instead of in eighth grade. In the case of one climactic slap, I didn’t know what had happened until the dialogue afterwards discussed it.

The story hits the emotional moments hard, sometimes too much. The boy tends to show up at just the right time whenever she needs rescue, which runs the risk of him seeming a creepy voyeur keeping too many tabs on her. It’s intended to be a relatable fantasy, certainly, with a shy blogger capturing the attention of a handsome, caring, popular boy, even if he does seem a bit too much fairy godfather at times, waving away her problems.

She can come close to pathetic in her neediness. However, that’s the benefit of this being a double-sized volume. We get to see her learning to stand up for herself and taking small steps forward in meeting people. The blog is also a good device for revealing her feelings. The advice from her commenters is smart and provides some encouragement. And the message is good, that friends are great for support, but she’s got to learn to make changes in herself for herself by herself.

Overall, though, it’s all a mite too comfortable and predictable, too reminiscent of other manga for me to continue with it. Which is a moot point now, anyway. This volume has two extras, a short story at the end showing how Teru and Hinata became friends and two one-page joke strips about Hikage’s invisibility. (The publisher provided a review copy.)

26 Comments

  1. […] over December 1, which is next week. (Yargh! Where does the time go?) From that batch, I reviewed I Am Here! and Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei Book 8. Del Rey Manga, I’ll miss your upscale quality and […]

  2. I just bought thsi the other day! It was so cute, and such a sweet read. I was completely drawn in with it. Any news for a volume 2 release at all?

  3. I don’t think there’s been any news at all about specific Kodansha titles after the changeover. Given how they’ve moved so far, I wouldn’t expect to hear anything until next spring at the earliest.

  4. This manga reminds me of the Japanese drama Nobuta wo Produce it is really good and I suggest it if you really liked this one.

  5. […] I Am Here! 2 (July) […]

  6. I found your review of I Am Here! to be extremely negative and rude to the author. Personally, I found it to be an amazing story that reflected how I feel and the struggles I have been through. The story about the motorcycle was just an example and was meant to be humorous and outlandish. The way you spoke of her Internet friends was extremely brash and inconsiderate. Naturallly she’d want a friend in real life, obviously you don’t understand what it’s like to be have no one to talk during school. Stories from other authors interlap and that is not something that should have been pointed out. Certain things in this era are going to pop up in almost every story. Things such as, I don’t know, maybe the Internet? Bullying is a common subject matter because many people can easily connected to the person being bullied. Excuse me for saying that her style is not “generic manga cute”. The correct term is “shojo” and I’m pretty sure you can’t draw anything as wel as Ema Toyama. I’m sorry, but many people like this style, people like me. In case you didn’t know, the English version doesn’t include the last few chapters of the story. Spoiler! Hinata isn’t Black Rabbit! Did you see that coming within the first two chapters as you had previously mentioned? I am extremely upset with this pathetic review. You are discouraging future readers and that is an absolutely terrible thing to do.
    I Am Here is an amazing story about a girl who struggles with making friends. She longs for true friendship and finds it in Hinata, one of the most popular boys in her class. The story has many heart wrenching twists and turns all drawn in the adorable, traditional, shojo style. Unfortunately, the last few chapters aren’t included and so you’ll have to find them online. All in all, I give it five stars!

  7. I understand that seeing someone not like a book that really spoke to you can be upsetting. I’m glad you enjoyed it and saw so much in it. I wanted to like it more than I did. Few books will please everyone, so thank you for providing an alternate opinion.

  8. Johanna Says:

    “…She maintains a blog under the name Sunflower, with two internet friends, Mega Pig and Black Rabbit, who read her posts and comment to encourage her. Her online friends aren’t enough for her, though; she wants one in real life…

    “…The advice from her commenters is smart and provides some encouragement. And the message is good, that friends are great for support, but she’s got to learn to make changes in herself for herself by herself…”

    Lovino Says:

    “…The way you spoke of her Internet friends was extremely brash and inconsiderate. Naturallly she’d want a friend in real life, obviously you don’t understand what it’s like to be have no one to talk during school…”

    Hmm.

    Johanna Says:

    “I Am Here! Book 1
    by Ema Toyama; adapted by Joshua Weeks
    published by Del Rey Manga; $16.99 US…

    “…(The publisher provided a review copy.)”

    Lovino Says:

    “…In case you didn’t know, the English version doesn’t include the last few chapters of the story…”

    In case you didn’t know, the product that Johanna reviewed is the English version of book 1 of the story. ;)

    Johanna Says:

    “…I frequently knew what plot point was coming up next, including guessing the book’s cliffhanger about two chapters in…”

    Lovino Says:

    “…the English version doesn’t include the last few chapters of the story. Spoiler! Hinata isn’t Black Rabbit! Did you see that coming within the first two chapters as you had previously mentioned?…”

    She didn’t previously mention seeing that Hinata isn’t Black Rabbit coming within the first two chapters.

    She did previously mention seeing the book’s cliffhanger coming within the first two chapters.

    You seem to think that something that’s not in the book is the book’s cliffhanger.

    Johanna Says:

    “…Few books will please everyone, so thank you for providing an alternate opinion.”

    Interesting, that’s an extremely diplomatic way to reply to someone who didn’t fully read your review in the first place then flamed you for writing your opinions, what you liked and disliked, about the product instead of writing an alternate opinion of an alternate product. ;)

    Meanwhile, since I started reading Comics Worth Reading I haven’t seen people who are subliterate (or at least subliterate in English) comment on any other book review sites as much as I’ve seen them comment here (and…double-checking now…here and there and other places too and everyone who assumes “good behaviour bond” means “jail sentence” instead of bothering to look it up).

    Hmm…this means you’ve inadvertently collected some info on how well some different titles promote literacy (one can look up a title in CWR, then if any posts cover it read those, then if any commenters claim to have finished the book read their comments, then tally up how few or how many of them obviously didn’t have enough reading comprehension for the post). :) Could this data be useful for librarians, ESL teachers, et al. trying to improve reading skills? OTOH, the data’s still from a self-selected sample. Now I’m imagining how a more rigorous survey of this kind of info could be done… :)

  9. Some of the manga reviews, especially, do attract what I’ve been assuming are younger commenters. (I think the posts Google well, to the point where some readers assume that I’m the publisher instead of just a reviewer.) I think some just don’t have a lot of experience online, which is why you see the immature logic when it comes to responding to opinions they disagree with.

  10. This has to be one of my favorite books now. it was really cute, and at some parts a tear jerker. (or maybe im just a wimp.) But i would recomnd this book for all! its really excellent!

  11. I but the book in the airport
    I live in Mexico so I was
    very lucky to find a book store
    so If you cant tell me when
    does the volumen 2 is released?
    and where can I read it?
    or buy it ^^

  12. As mentioned above, book 2 is due in July. At that point, you should be able to buy it at your favorite bookstore or maybe get it from your library.

  13. I LOVVVVVVVVE this BooK The best ever…i was so inspired by it so i Did the same and Now i have LOTZZZ of friendzzz…

  14. Wow, the review was very negative…I actually enjoyed the manga itself, and just because all of those mangas/elements you mentioned are very interesting…and it just makes I Am Here! that much more enjoyable.

    Sumino-san also inspired me to create a blog!

  15. Black Angel

    Lovino, that was just about the most poorly marked spoiler ever. Granted, I had suspected that was most likely the case, but I nonetheless hoped to remain in some degree of suspense until the author officially revealed that plot point later in the story. Please remember to include an ample amount of what people call “spoiler space” (paragraph breaks/blank space between lines/hyphens/etc.) in your posts before you decide to spoil something else like that in the future. Thanks.

  16. i love this book…. i hope volume 2 comes out soon it kind of reminded of me when i was just a lil girl …. if the writer is reading this pleaz keep going i really like this book …^^

  17. spoiler alert would have been great thanks alot….

  18. I purchased this when I was at the mall with my dad today. I figured it would be a normal book, only to come to tissues and crying for over an hour.
    (^ ^;) Im not gonna read it in school or else I may cry again.. (;= =)

  19. I think that like alot of people who comented, that the review was a bit harsh but I also understand where your coming from. The book was a bit more predictable than I would have liked. But this manga is especially popular with those going through tough times which is one of the reasons why a lot of people enjoyed it more than you did. I know wen I first read it I was completly taken by how good this story was but now that I have gotten out of my rut I feel like it has lost a bit of its magic

  20. You’re very likely right, that this book speaks more to some readers than others, and I wasn’t lucky enough to be in the first group.

  21. oh my gosh i just picked this manga up for the first time this month and i love it with a passion. i saw it in barnse and noble please forgive my spelling- but the deppressing thing is i didnt have the money to get it. and there are so many ideas i could get from that book that i could draw to. that manga really is amazing….. thank you ema toyama

  22. omg! just finished the second book! it was amazing! my fav manga! is there a third or does it only go up to 2 books?

  23. […] young people, though. Creator Ema Toyama seems to know her digital stuff; she previously released I Am Here!, which dealt with […]

  24. Its so cute! Plus, it reminds me of myself; I’m usually very quiet, and don’t get noticed much. I am shy to. So I have little friends and sit awkwardly by myself a lot. I’m more of a loner anyway, but I wouldn’t mind two cute guys fighting me! It has happened before, but girls became mean to me, and it resulted in them moving away. ;(

    from an eighth grade nobody…

  25. […] by, Manga Dogs. That’s their English title for GDGD-DOGS by Ema Toyama. Her previous works I Am Here! and Missions of Love have already been released in […]

  26. […] other Ema Toyama works have been published by Kodansha: I Am Here! and Missions of Love. The latter started strong but continued long after I wanted to stick with it, […]

Leave a Reply

Comments are closed.