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i am here!, Volume 1 by Ema Toyama
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i am here!, Volume 1

by Ema Toyama

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I enjoyed Toyama's Missions of Love series, which has a nice humorous side and some convincingly complicated portrayals of teenage social and romantic interactions. So I was keen to give her other works a try.

Unfortunately for me, I Am Here has a very different vibe. It feels intensely earnest and naive, without humour. Unfortunately, that makes it much harder for me to accept implausibilities, specifically the ways characters interact. While the bullying is depressingly believable, it makes no sense to me that the class idols don't step in to protect their friend.

The most striking, though, is the protagonist's impassioned heartfelt speech about friendship and self-improvement, which in the story immediately converts the class from the bullies' side to hers. I've been at school; not only would this not work, she wouldn't even get to make the speech. This whole scene felt wildly implausible, and that didn't gel with the wide-eyed earnestness of the story overall (it's easier to accept literary devices like The Big Speech in a less realistic story).

I suppose it's possible that school in Japan is very different, and people can make deeply personal speeches while classmates stand around listening rather than erupting into mockery five seconds in, despite having been ready to attack them moments earlier?

The characters also feel very one-dimensional, without any distinguishing features. Compared to Toyama's other work it surprised me just how flat everything feels. I won't be bothering with any more volumes. ( )
  Shimmin | Jan 2, 2016 |
I loved it! The art is precious and all the characters are adorable. The story is also good. I really like Sumino, both when she's being painfully shy and standing up for herself. I'm really glad I picked this up on a whim, and I really can't wait to read the second volume. ( )
  BrynDahlquis | May 17, 2012 |
For anyone who has ever been the wallpaper, this series is for you. Sumino Hikage is almost literally invisible--her teachers mark her absent even when she's sitting at her desk and no one remembers her name--until the day Hinata Muto, the most popular boy in class, speaks to her. He quickly becomes her third friend--but who are her other two friends, known to Sumino only as "Black Rabbit" and "Mega Pig" when they post on her blog? I have a theory--I'll have to keep reading to see if I'm right...
  LibraryGirl11 | Aug 2, 2011 |
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This is the English volume 1, which is an omnibus containing volumes 1-2 of the original Japanese release. Please do not combine with volume 1 of the Japanese version.
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"Invisible to her classmates, Hikage Sumino is an eighth grader with no self-esteem. Her only friends are the visitors to her Internet blog. One day, the most popular boy in the grade suddenly talks to her. Encouraged by this twist of fate, Hikage determines to transform her life" -- from publisher's web site.… (more)

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