Naho is a typical girl in Grade 11, with a solid friend group and all the worries of a high-school student: passing tests, what the future holds, boys, etc. One day, she receives a letter, from what claims to be her future self, warning her about what's happening in her life and trying to steer her away from bad choices. The letter comes just as new student Kakeru joins the class and her friend group. As the things. in the letter start to happen, Naho has no choice but to believe her "future self" and try to make up for regrets and missed opportunities that haven't happened yet. To further tangle things, Takano also embeds chapters from the friends' future selves, and more clues as to what lies in store are revealed.
This collected edition brings together volumes 1 and 2 of the original publication. The subject matter from the available synopses, and the sheer width of this volume, had me intimidated at first, but this series is worth the praise that has been heaped on it. While it is a time travel-y story with the letters making their way back to Naho, in essence, it's more about the interactions between the characters, and the value of living life to its fullest. I was sure I would have to break up the reading of this volume, but I actually devoured it in one sitting. Takano's six main characters are so compelling, and each has an important and unique place in the storyline. The tension between Naho, Kakeru, and Suwa is palpable, and the suspense woven through the story keeps the pages turning.
Takano's illustrations are really authentic. Naho's expressions are pure and really make the character come alive. Kakeru's forced smile can be painful, especially with how often Naho notices it and points it out to the reader. While the story and art focus more on the characters, there are some beautifully detailed backgrounds and scenes interspersed with the sparse ones that make up a majority of the story.
This would be a great addition to any collection where readers hunger for a romance that has a slightly different twist to it. While this manga is mostly a love story, the only thing elevating it from lower middle grades is the topic of suicide, which is discussed fairly frequently throughout.
Sara's Rating: 10/10
Suitability Level: Grades 8-12
Tags: Rating: 8/10, Suitability: Middle School, Suitability: High School, Manga, Romance, School Age, Friendship
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