I Cannot Reach You Volume 7 Review

I want to tell Yamato… that I have feelings for him too.

Kakeru has realized at last how he feels about his childhood friend Yamato. He’s determined, having made Yamato wait a long while for an answer to his confession, to do it right. So why – in the middle of winter – does he drag Yamato to the nearby beach? It seemed like such a great idea at the time, to declare his feelings in a romantic location – but it’s freezing cold. Flustered, Kakeru runs into the incoming tide but before he can say anything, the waves knock him off his feet. Getting soaked leads to him having to take to his bed with a fever of 101.6 and his furious mother telling him off.

It’s not all a disaster, though, as Yamato comes round to check on him after school and Kakeru has recovered enough to ask him to make him some udon. But the best laid plans keep falling apart (or into farcical misunderstandings) especially when, having arranged to meet Kakeru at the weekend, Yamato is called into work to cover for a sick colleague, only to find when he arrives, that she’s recovered. This leads to an awkward encounter when Kakeru bumps into Yamato coming away from work with his other colleague, the chatty Honoka Nitta, who’s holding onto his arm. Something breaks inside Kakeru and he bursts out in the middle of the street, “You said you like me, didn’t you!!? Was that a lie too!?”

I Cannot Reach You – the title says it all – is about two childhood friends, now in high school. For one of the pair, the feelings of friendship have changed and deepened. The other, cheerfully oblivious, seems not to have noticed. If one confesses, will that alienate the other, destroying a cherished friendship? Is the other emotionally mature enough to understand? This on-off situation in which Yamato (the one who fell first) has tried to quell his misgivings about confessing and Kakeru, the one who’s been a little naïve and slow on the uptake, has finally reached the point of no return. Now that Kakeru has finally realized that he really does have feelings for Yamato but is at a loss as to how to tell his friend, there’s still a way to go before he is able to confess. Nevertheless, this is the volume in which – at long last – he does confess. But not before there’s yet another horrendously convoluted series of misunderstandings (something mangaka Mika is good at putting their characters through) which, although mostly played for laughs (for the readers, not the protagonists) is quite painful to read (in the ‘ouch’ sense). If you’ve stayed with this series since the first volume, you’ll feel nothing but relief when the misunderstandings melt away and Yamato kisses Kakeru.

This moment is a pivotal one, the culmination of seven volumes of yearnings and confusions but also the start of new, unexplored territory for the two. We begin to see a new side to Yamato; the reserved, aloof, ‘A’ student suddenly becomes much more assertive and demonstrative; don’t miss the scene in the school infirmary at the end, a classic location in high school romance manga for all kinds of shenanigans behind the screens, exciting and risky because of the high possibility of being discovered. We can also see trouble ahead as Kakeru and friends wonder gloomily what will happen to them in upcoming Year 3 (yes, they’re still in Year 2!) and what they’ll do if they’re split up. There’s also the matter of the ongoing conversation between Kakeru and his bespectacled friend Kousuke Fujino about Kakeru’s ‘girlfriend’; when is Kakeru going to come clean, especially as Fujino wants them all to go on a double date – and how will Fujino react?

How long a wait for a confession in a love story is too long? For the readers, that is. I’m in favour of slow-burn over a relationship that establishes itself too quickly on the page but, given the time it takes for a mangaka to develop and draw, then publish their story, even in these days of pixiv and webcomics, is the gap between the publication of volumes in translation just that little too long? Mika just about gets away with the long-drawn-out build-up to that crucial reply to an earlier confession and that’s because their beautifully observed and intricately drawn art and character-building are convincing and Kakeru’s reply, when it eventually happens, really feels earned. (At least it’s not 17 volumes to wait, like Shungiku Nakamura’s BL marathon The World’s Greatest First Love!)

One of the delightful little touches Mika adds in occurs when Kakeru and Yamato go back to Yamato’s home after Kakeru has at last managed to tell Yamato how he feels. The Oohara family cat is there, all smiles, and we see the cat’s comments and thoughts in tiny font above its head (nicely done by Alexis Eckerman) until Kakeru absently picks it up and gives it a cuddle.

The translation (which works as well as ever) is again by Jan Mitsuko Cash and there’s a helpful page of translation notes at the end. The lettering is still by Alexis Eckerman and continues to make the story, characters’ inner thoughts and all, a fluid read. Yen Press have again included four colour pages at the beginning; always a treat as Mika’s use of colour, as seen on the cover art, is subtle yet eye-catching. The mangaka’s afterword is only a brief page, not illustrated, telling Japanese readers about a fifth drama CD and reminding us that it’s only taken ‘four years?!’ to reach this point in the story. Volume 8 is already available in Japan although it’s not yet on the Yen Press schedule. It seems that Kotoko Hachijo has just brought out a novel with illustrations by the mangaka (she’s the author of the Sasaki and Miyano novels) so maybe we can expect Yen Press to license that too. I Cannot Reach You has also been adapted to live-action TV drama and is currently available on Netflix.

If you’ve been following Yamato and Kakeru since the first volume, this latest release is an absolute must-read!

9 / 10


Sarah's been writing about her love of manga and anime since Whenever - and first started watching via Le Club Dorothée in France...

More posts from Sarah...