We Were There Vol. #04 (Mania.com)

By:Erin Jones
Review Date: Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Release Date: Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Sex and underage drinking in my We Were There?  It’s true!

Creative Staff
Writer/Artist: Yuki Obata
Translation: Tetsuichiro Miyaki
Adaptation: Nancy Thistlewait

What They Say
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.

It's not regret.I just feel that......maybe I messed up a bit...That's all.

The Review!
Picking up right where the last volume left off, Nana and Yano are in the delicate process of preparing to have sex for the first time.  Nana behaves, well, like a teenager in love for the first time, being trusting and nervous by turns.  Thankfully (for you smut fans, unfortunately) the scene, with all its pitfalls (one of which we don’t even discover until afterwards) is handled very tastefully and creatively by Obata.  We do get a good sense of how much Nana loves Yano, and how much she wants to be with him, which also results in some nice development of Yano afterwards.  Some of this is done with the inclusion of Takeuchi, who seems to be continuing to develop more feelings for Nana, and who provides an interesting counterpoint to several of Yano’s hypocritical decisions.

Things take a more dramatic turn when Nana finds a photograph of Yano and Nana-san in a book belonging to Yuri--Nana-san’s younger sister.  The discovery of Yuri’s feelings for Yano, and their past together, is not just a cheap attempt at melodrama or a way to stir the pot.  It leads to tensions that have been simmering below the surface for the previous three volumes finally coming to a head, particularly between Yano and Yuri.  What I liked even more about it, though, is that Yuri is revealing the truth of Nana-san’s betrayal to Yano, which could have served as a way to give him some closure.  Instead, it prevents him from being able to pretend like it doesn’t bother him any more.

Perhaps the one thing I didn’t like about this was the way in which Yano shuts Nana out more and more as the volume progresses, telling her not to betray him, and then proceeding to keep secrets because he knew they would hurt her.  However, this can hardly be considered a criticism of the storytelling or the characterization--in fact, I consider it wonderful that we are given enough insight into the characters to understand their actions and enough background to see what tragedies and experiences have led them to this place, but the choice of liking or disliking them is left entirely up to us.  While I do dislike Yano’s actions in the latter half of this installment, it actually made me sympathize more with him than the previous three volumes had managed.

In Summary:
This series, though still not the most melodramatic bang for your buck, is continuing to be one of the most quality, quiet, moving shoujo series on the market.  Although this volume ups the drama the characters are going through in the “current” time, it remains so quietly affecting that it’s easy to forgive.  Even more impressive is for all that the characters believe that their feelings are the most important aspect of their lives, the series itself never feels like a matter of life-and-death.  If it ever does, it’s only because the emotions of the characters are so well conveyed.  Needless to say, the “highly recommended” label applies to this volume, as well.

Mania Grade: A-
Art Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translation Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Released By: Viz Media
MSRP: 8.99
Pages: 200
ISBN: 978-1421520216
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: We Were There