Quick review – Be With You, Ichikawa Takuji

Be With You

When Takumi’s wife suddenly returns from the grave, he can’t believe his eyes. How could such a thing be possible? Is she here to stay? Has love miraculously triumphed over death? As Takumi starts looking for answers to these questions, he discovers the secret of his wife’s appearance is somehow linked to the past…and the future.

When I first saw this book in the manga section at my local Borders, I was a bit intrigued. First, it wasn’t a title I recognized, and second, there wasn’t an accompanying manga next to it. I picked it up and read the description (which also included a quick blurb about how the story was later adapted into a manga, full length live action film, and live action TV series) and decided it might be worth a read. Up until this point, my exposure to Japanese literature has been limited to the works of Murakami Haruki and various light novels that were later adapted into manga/anime. I’m also a sucker for love stories, so this really was right up my alley.

In a nutshell, Be With You (Ima, Ai ni Yukimasu) is the story of rediscovering lost love. The book chronicles the lives of Takumi (known affectionately as “Takkun”) and his son Yuji. It is told from Takkun’s perspective and is meant to be his way of passing on the memories of his wife Mio to their son. Since Mio’s passing, both father and son live a simple life and much of their daily routine is spent meeting the status quo. They’re a close pair though not the most tidy. Must of their surroundings are in disarray, clothes are unwashed and household chores are left undone.

Prior to her passing, Mio made Takkun a promise. While on her deathbed, she promised to return to check on them in a few years when the rainy season started. At the time, Takkun dismissed her statement and went on living and caring for his son. One day, however, during a spring shower, Mio reappeared before them. When she appeared, she was confused and disoriented. She didn’t remember anything at all, including who she was. Since he didn’t know how long she would be with them, Takkun set out to hide the truth and go on as if Mio had never left. To help her along, he goes into the tale of how they met.

Without going into too many more plot details, I really enjoyed the simple way the story laid itself out. The narrative was easy to follow and the flashbacks were well punctuated with the reunited family’s attempts at getting used to normal life. Even the side characters played significant roles in the development of the characters and plot, from Nombre and Pooh to the assistant at the office where Takkun works. For all you perverts out there, there’s even a short sex scene.

For me, this novel kept me engaged and I ended up finishing most of it in one sitting. It also isn’t a terribly difficult read and the cultural references are pretty light. Weighing in at about 300 pages, it didn’t take more than a couple hours to get through. If you enjoy a good love story or looking for something that will make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, I’d highly recommend you pick this up and give it a read. It would probably go well with some good coffee or hot chocolate or while curled up in your favorite chair. If you like your books with a lot of action, blood, violence, or giant robots, then this may not be for you.

The English adaptation of Be With You is published by Viz Media and retails for $9.99 (paperback) and $19.99 (hardcover). The paperback version is readily available from many retailers, including Amazon.com, Borders, Barnes and Noble, and RightStuf. I’ve only been able to find the hardcover on RightStuf.

Now to see if I can track down the movie version… I’ve also found information regarding a Hollywood adaptation of the story, with Jennifer Garner being cast as the Mio character.

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