Wednesday, September 25, 2019

If I Could Reach You volume 1 - obsessed much? (Manga Review)

Cover of manga with girl sitting in room at dusk
If I Could Reach You - volume 1 - 5.5/10

If I Could Reach You volume 1 (Kodansha Comics) is a yuri manga about a high-school girl in love with her older brother's wife. While that could be reasonable grounds to explore complex themes, it just doesn't come together in volume 1 at all.

Uta is our protagonist. Her sister-in-law, Kaoru, apparently spent years pining for Uta's brother, Reiichi, only to finally marry him. Things were apparently not good in Uta's household growing up and after Kaoru and Reiichi married, Uta moved in with them. As Uta is living with them, she realizes that her feelings for Kaoru are romantic love.

Fine. There are all sorts of ways that this could play out. Plenty of young people have had crushes on older people, including those they've looked up to for years. But "If I Could Reach You" doesn't do subtly well, it's all on the surface. The other biggest problem with this volume is that we don't learn anything about Uta as a person, even though she's our protagonist.

The entire volume is nothing but Uta obsessing and pining (and whining to her friend) about how she loves a woman she can't be with. Over and over again. Page after page. There is simply nothing to her character other than her desire to be with Kaoru. That's both boring and problematic. Women are more than who they love, and literature has an obligation to give us more fully realized characters.

That's far from the only problem with this volume. Perhaps the thing that upset me the most was the kiss. Kaoru is asleep and Uta kisses her. It is never okay to kiss someone without their consent. And when sleeping, and they are married to someone else, it's totally creepy. This is a trope that needs to die off, and quickly.

The art is on the simple and moe-ish side. It's fine, but nothing special at all. Thankfully there isn't any service, so that's something.

On the plus side, there are hints that this series could get better as it develops over multiple volumes. Most series like this never go from romantic love/crushes to actually discussing true intimacy. So it was with pleasant surprise that Uta's friend pushes her to think about sexual intimacy with Kaoru and the way that scene was written was perfect and priceless. It's also good to know that this isn't only some sort of romanticized crush. Uta is a teenager and teenagers think about sex. So it's good to see it actually come up in this manga.

Speaking of Uta's friend. She might be the most interesting character. I truly hope they develop her, because she's got some spunk, and one wonders (hopes maybe?) that she secretly harbors feelings for Uta but isn't saying anything because she knows Uta is obsessed with Kaoru. That might make a great story (wishful thinking for now).

So the writing is pretty perfunctory and the entire thing is nothing but Uta obsessing which is both cloying and boring. The art is bland and simple. There are some problematic aspects as well. But there are hints that there could be more complex plot development lurking for future volumes. Taken on its own, it's a passable 5.5/10. I'll read the next volume to see if it goes anywhere interesting, but if it's more of the same, then I'll table this series.


Please legitimately purchase or borrow manga and anime. Never read scanlations or watch fansubs. Those rob the creators of the income they need to survive and reduce the chance of manga and anime being legitimately released in English.

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