Currently Reading: I’m With Her

I'm With Her by Fujisue Sakura

Summary (Modified from MangaFox): Kanori makes a new friend on her first day at a new school, Kazumi, and she decides to participate in a goukon with her new best friend. Each leaves the goukon with a new partner (Kota and Ena, respectively), and their relationships help shape them in both good – and bad – ways.

Thoughts so far:

This is not your little sister’s shoujo manga by any means. Manga featuring goukon can be marketed to different age groups of varying degrees, but this series deals with a LOT of mature themes. Rape, teenage pregnancy (or the possibility of it), abuse, it’s all here.

I do think this is a well-executed manga for a variety of reasons. The themes in this manga are dealt with in a very realistic manner. What I appreciate about this manga is that Fujisue-sensei doesn’t shy away from the mature themes, which are handled in a tasteful and non-gratuitous manner. Unlike Black Bird many other manga I could mention.

Readers can say that they want Kazumi to slap Ena silly for cheating, but there are plenty of young girls out there that WANT to believe that this guy loves them, that WANT to believe that they are special and loved. This is an aspect of relationships that girls in any culture can understand and relate to. The thing I like about this is that Kazumi doesn’t seem like a wet blanket – rather, she seems genuinely insecure and has a real craving for love and intimacy. In that sense, Kazumi doesn’t have that archetypical feel of a clingy female character.

Kanori and Kota do a good job of portraying a realistic and healthy relationship with good communication. How rare is this in normal shoujo manga? QUITE A BIT. =_=

I also appreciate that Kota is not a sex-crazed guy as seen in so many shoujo manga where the male lead basically conveys the equivalent of: “I really, really, REALLY want to do it with you, but I’m going to wait so that I can let the female readers believe I am not a douchebag and because I love you when I’m not being jealous.”
However, Kota genuinely cares about Kazumi’s feelings, and although they go through some rough bits in the first few chapters, they make it through while forming a stable foundation for their relationship! YAY!

Another aspect of this manga I liked is the relationship depicted between Kanori and her mother. In a lot of shoujo manga, parents are almost absent, or else they’re caricatures of model parents…or the more violent-in-a-slapsticky-way variety. I do believe Kanori’s mother represents a lot of the mothers in modern Japan – the mothers whose salaryman husbands spend so much time away from the family that they grow apart. Even though she’s not a central character, Kanori’s mother is given depth and realism in the way that she mentors Kanori. Although she’s not an ideal mother at the start of the series, she once again (assuming she was a good mother in childhood) grows into that role in nurturing and guiding Kanori.
I’m kind of curious as to what Kanori’s father is like, but then he isn’t that important…

As for Ena, he’s the character I love to hate. Yes, he’s COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY unlikable, but that’s the way he has to be for I’m With Her to be the series that it is. Guys (and girls) like Ena DO EXIST in real life, and it’s the mark of a good mangaka that doesn’t shy away from this fact, and depicts it in an unflinching manner.

(Also, I love how he almost sort of shows remorse for how he treats Kazumi for like, one second, and then goes back to being a cheating piece of ****. Nice.)

The art is all right, I suppose. Not my cup of tea, but it gets the job done. I really have nothing more to say on this matter…the art neither blows me away with amazement nor makes me cringe in pain. So it’s a success? LOL

Although I normally read less serious manga, I do think this is a series worth checking out if you want something more mature and realistic to read.

Rating so far: 7.5/10