Manga Quick Information

Title: With the Light #1
Original vintage: 2000
Mangaka: Keiko Tobe
Published by: Yen Press
Genre: Drama
Material length: 528 pages

Ian Wolf's review

Ian Wolf scored this with 8/10.

"The mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it is not open." – Frank Zappa

I have wanted to read this manga for some time now for one main reason: I suffer from a disorder on the autistic spectrum, like the child mentioned in the title.

Of course I knew that the story would not be totally relevant to me. The child, Hikaru Azuma, suffers from autism, while I have a different autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), Asperger's Syndrome, and luckily I only have a mild form of it. Also, each individual case is different from all the others. Oh, and the little matter that I am English and he is Japanese.

It should also be pointed out that this manga, by the late Keiko Tobe (she died before she was able to complete the story), is not so much about the child, but about the mother, Sachiko Azuma, and her story of trying to raise the boy. This hefty tome, which combines the first two volumes of the original Japanese work, covers the first eight-nine years of his life.

Over the course of this period, Sachiko has to deal with problems with her family, friends, schools, doctors and finally another child. The series highlights the main problem that people with autism and other ASDs have: our disability is not a visible one. In the book, people assume that Hikaru's seemingly bad behaviour is due to Sachiko being a bad parent. It makes me wonder if my parents suffered from similar problems.

Also, the unseen bit is certainly an issue for me personally. At times I feel as if no-one takes me personally in particular situations. If I tell someone that I am disabled, the chances are that people at first will have their doubts, because I do not have any "hardware" for want of a better word. I have no need for a white stick, a hearing aid, a wheelchair or any of those things, because all of my problems are in my brain. I do not look disabled, so some people at first don't believe me when I tell them that I am.

The story is very well researched and highly believable. For example there is one plotline in which Hikaru is accidentally locked in a cabin containing sports equipment after recess, and has an accident in which he breaks his collarbone. When I was about his age I broke my arm during a P.E. lesson. The story brought all those memories back concerning my recovery.

While the story is highly commendable, the art is not of same standard. It’s good, but it is not amazing. Still, it is a wholly enjoyable read, and I do plan to carry on with this creation.

Review Information

Score: 8 out of 10
Review By: Ian Wolf
Date Published: Sun, 11 Mar 2012

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