After volume nine’s jump to the future, We Were There returns again to the past. This volume follows Yano in his first year away from Nanami as seen through the eyes of a classmate, Sengenji. While things continue to decline for Yano’s mother, Yano strives desperately to cling to his long-distance relationship with Nanami, even if this means shutting her out of everything he’s going through. Meanwhile, Yamamoto enters the picture once again and Sengenji battles her own feelings for Yano.
So much of this series revolves around questions of trust, and once again Yano falls short–not in terms of his own trustworthiness, but rather in his inability to trust Nanami with the things she most needs to know. Though he tries to justify this as concern for her, it’s obvious that what he’s really protecting is himself. “Even if wounds heal, scars are left behind,” he says to Takeuchi over the phone, following a labored metaphor about broken plants created to justify shielding Nanami from further truth. “So it’s better not to experience hardship if you don’t have to.”
Even watching Yano stumble, however, it’s impossible not to feel for him, and it’s exactly this kind of emotional ambiguity that this series handles so well. Every poor choice and heartfelt miscalculation is perfectly in-character, forcing readers to examine their own reactions just as in real life.
With its thoughtful tone and exceptional insight into the human mind and heart, We Were There continues to be a must-read for fans of mature shojo.
Review copy provided by the publisher. Review originally published at PopCultureShock.