Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bokura Ga Ita

I had every intention of making Beck my next update, but I got distracted a little too easily, to my embarrassment, by Bokura ga Ita, or We Were There. I had seen the movie posters at the Junkudo in Oita for months now and had never really had the interest in reading the manga.

While I was out yesterday, I made my usual stop at Tsutaya and saw that the March edition of Betsucomi was showcasing that this was the last chapter of Bokura ga Ita and to celebrate they were giving away free tot bags. As a woman, I've always loved bags and as a manga reader, I just couldn't resist getting the finial chapter so it wasn't that much of a hardship to talk myself into buying it. It was only 440 yen anyway.

This manga is the "it" manga in shōjo right now. It's been running for years in betsucomi, already had an anime adaption and the live action movie is being released in theaters at the end of next month.

There are times that I feel that shōjo mangaka just don't know when to stop with the drama and most of the time the only people who have that much drama in their lives are soap opera stars. Yet Obata was able to inject the modern dysfunctional into a character and make his circumstances realistic and not over done.

We are all shaped by ou realities, some of us more than others. 

Love, especially young love, changes a person for ever. There are scars, be they good or bad, that are left on our hearts that affect out interactions with others and quickly put us on the defensive. When you look at Yano as a character, he is the perfect example of how every type of love changes a person. He is a character that was brought into circumstances that were beyond his understanding and a love that walks the line of crippling. 

During the high school arc, Yano and Takahashi's relationship is obviously influenced by his mother and the horrible relationship she didn't have with his birth father. The residual trauma was unknowingly but onto Yano and coupled with his own trauma with his ex, it is hardly surprising that he would push for a promise that would lead to heartbreak. It is the adult arc of this manga that was the most thought provoking and appealing as a reader for me. While high school love is always wonderful and nostalgic, it was the continuation of that love and how it is affected by the real world that says the most.

Yano and his dysfunctionality is what makes his manga so interesting and involving. He is surrounded by circumstances and bonds that were already in place before he could change it. His need to have a person rely on him, first his mother, then his ex and then Takahashi and Yamamoto, pushed him into a continuing cycle of self inflected pain. One could even argue that it was his fear of happiness that lead to all his troubles. He states that he thinks happiness is like snow. Fleeting and easily melted when touched with warmth. It also shows how co-dependent people can be. Yano needed people to rely on him and he needed them to help him ignore his own pain.

Takahashi is the image of a perfect Japanese girl. She is cute and even after she is hurt, she is the stronger one and waits for Yano. Even after she is practically stranded in Tokyo for 5 years. There were times when I really disliked her on a feminist standpoint and then there were times that I loved her for being the type of person who could continue to love a man that put her into a situation that would have permanently scarred another. Her strength of character is what makes her the perfect shōjo heroine. Takahashi is unable to break this connection with Yano, as all first loves are never forgotten. 

The most striking image that Obata continues to use throughout the manga is a train station. Train stations are one of the loneliest places. They are full of people and yet they are so cold. Where people spend their either coming or going, or waiting for something to come to them. Always waiting is what Takahashi does as a character. Weither is was for Yano or for her life to move on, she is constantly waiting for a part of her past that she can never forget. The same is said for Yano. He is constantly held back and unable to break any of the connections to his past.

This is a shōjo manga that I would recommend to any woman or girl. Personally, I felt that a lot of the other characters could be a little too unrealistic, but that is the joy of manga. The unrealistic becomes the realistic and could be turned into a truly enjoyable story.

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