Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Be With You by Takuji Ichikawa... A Review

Be With You
A Haunting Love Story....

"Soon I won't be with you any longer," 29-year-old Mio says to her husband Takumi, "But when the rainy season returns, I will come back to see how the two of you are getting along."

These simple words spoken a week before Mio leaves this world for the world beyond, somehow comforts Takumi, as he struggles to take care of himself and their 5 year old son Yuki... But one year later when the rainy season returns, so does Mio! In a walk thru the woods Takumi & Yuki are stunned to see a confused Mio standing before them. As Takumi calls out to her in disbelief, "Mio?" She asks "Is that my name?" She has no memory.... and Takumi decides then and there that he will lie to her and act as if she's been ill and has lost her memory due to her illness. And of course he's not going to tell her that she is a ghost. Takumi takes Yuki aside in secret and explains to him that they must not let on that she died - so they form a pact to act as normal as possible...

Mio is a bit apprehensive, things just don't seem right somehow... But she wants to know what she's forgotten, so Takumi begins to tell her their story, and in simple prose Takumi weaves a most unusual love story that slowly pulls the reader in and slowly makes Mio fall in love all over again with Takumi. At a steady pace, between the story of the present day, we learn the everyday mundane to the poignant moments that make up this love story. From the time they met at age 15 to the time just before Mio died. But what may appear to be a romantic ghost story is really much more than that. There is a twist to this story ...the present is the future and has a link to the past... On the surface it appears to be a simple story, but looks are deceiving... Just as we are taking the story for granted, we are suddenly found stirred by that surprising twist! And then the story takes on a whole different meaning!

There are also other concepts that Takuji Ichikawa deals with- such as the afterlife. In a beautifully written opening paragraph, our main character Takumi is describing Mio's death to their 5 year old son...

"When Mio died, this was how I thought.
Whoever made our planet must have made
another planet at the same time,
somewhere in the universe.
That would be the planet where people go when they die.
The name of that planet is Archive."

We are never far from the truth of the story because Ichikawa never hides the fact that Mio dies, but with the reappearance of Mio comes renewed hope for a happy ending and the question of what makes us love another person? A simple yet beautiful story....

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