Friday, February 4, 2022

If I Could Reach You Volume 6 (Manga Review)

If I Could Reach You volume 6 cover

There has been so much time between volumes of "If I Could Reach You" but I was glad to get this next one. What made me most excited was that this volume focused almost exclusively on Kaoru's present, past, inner-life, etc... It fleshed her out in a way that is likely to create greater plausibility and acceptability for what will come next in the series. But I am jumping ahead.

"If I Could Reach You" is a story about Uta, a high-school girl whose older brother dated and now married a woman named Kaoru. They dated all through high-school and she was like an older sister to Uta. But Uta comes to realize that her feelings for Kaoru aren't sisterly, they are romantic love. As the series has gone through it's first five volumes, it because clear to Uta that she can't keep living with her brother and Kaoru any longer (I can't remember where the parents are - like most shoujo manga they are either overseas working or dead, doesn't really matter for this purpose though). By the end of Volume 5, Uta has moved out into a small student apartment to be away from Kaoru and reclaim her life.

And that is why volume 6 is so refreshing. We actually get to learn about Kaoru. No longer is she just the stock character our main character has feelings for, but she has an inner life, she has complexities, and there are plenty of hints dropped that reveal more substance (and thus more potential) that maybe something could actually happen between her and Uta. I don't want to give spoilers, but it was refreshing for a series like this to actually flesh out the love interest.

That being said, here is my normal disclaimer that I am opposed to adults dating high-schoolers and I have no idea if this series will ever bring that relationship to consummation in any way, or if this will be more the melancholy longing and ultimate growing up and growing apart (which was done so masterfully in series like After the Rain). So I'm sticking with this series so far because it hasn't crossed any lines or made any overtly icky situations. That said, these things can turn on a dime, so just be aware that it's about a high school student with feelings for an adult. Let's hope the adults act like adults.

However, I can't deny that one of the things I love in manga (and god, I can't believe I'm admitting this publicly), is the step-siblings who fall in love with each other (see Citrus or Love Me Love Me Not or literally like half of all shoujo). And so while not step-siblings here (actually siblings-in-law), there is that forbidden love thing here too (I just wish it wasn't child/adult, but as I said, so far it's just feelings in Uta's head, which isn't necessarily abnormal for a high-schooler to have a crush on someone a bit older, I guess).

The art continues to be okay. It's in that slightly comic-booky/modern shoujo manga lightness that is only okay to me, but in no way memorable. If you've been reading this blog, you know I love 90's and early 2000's shoujo manga with the super disproportionately long limbs, sharp angles, and lots and lots of screentones. This has none of that. It's fine, but it's just not anything special. Even among contemporary manga, it's nothing like the art of Io Sakisaka who blends the best of contemporary figure proportions with exceptional draftsmanship, detail, and yes...screentones! tMnR, the mangaka behind this, is competent as an artist, just not memorable. Compare:

comparison between the artwork of Clamp, Io Sakisaka, and tMnR
See the dynamic blacks, and long angular lines in Clamp's work, and the complex screen tones, and rich textures in Io Sakisaka's work, then look at the simplicity in "If I Could Reach You" by tMnR. You're mileage may vary as to your preferred style. (Right click and open to view larger)

Anyway, volume 6 is one of the better ones in the series because it fleshes out Kaoru's character. We do lose some momentum, but I think that is worth it for having a more fully realized person, not just a stock love interest. We also get hints that this series could resolve any number of ways, which makes me want to keep reading. The art is just average for modern shoujo/yuri manga, which is to say, nothing special at all, sort of perfunctory. But the writing is a bit above average and I'm interested to see where it goes and how it handles the complexity. So I'll keep reading and let you know what I think.


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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