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I Am Here!, Volume 1

Review

I Am Here!, Volume 1

written and illustrated by Ema Toyama

Hikage isn’t a ghost, but she’s basically invisible. Each day she goes to eighth grade, and each day everyone ignores her and forgets her name. Alas, this has been going on for years, back to her childhood, when no one would bother finding her during hide and seek. One time she went into the street to save a cat from being hit by a car, only for a motorcycle to hit her because she’s so unnoticeable. After that, Hikage had to spend some time in the hospital. (The cat was okay.)

The only friends Hikage has are Internet ones. There are two people (screen names Black Rabbit and Mega Pig) who comment on her blog and tell her to keep her chin up.

Then things start changing at school. After being ignored for so long, class heartthrob Hinata takes an interest in Hikage. Hikage is overwhelmed and intimidated, but also thrilled. The two hang out more and more. Unfortunately, this also brings unwanted attention on the couple. Lots of girls have crushes on Hinata, and they don’t want Hikage getting him. Following years of ignoring her, the girls in her class now begin tormenting and bullying Hikage. Time and again, she seeks out her Internet friends for help. It’s easy for readers to infer that Black Rabbit and Mega Pig are really Hinata and his friend Teru, but this idea doesn’t occur to Hikage.

Hikage is drawn in an interesting way, with sheaves of her hair turning to the side of her face to look like sad cat ears. This manga has a very distinct type of shojo art style, with pretty, androgynous characters and amazingly big eyes. It’s actually a style quite common in a number of other Del Rey releases, such as Kitchen Princess, Pichi Pichi Pitch and Mamotte! Lollipop.

This volume is being released with more than 400 pages, but it still feels like a short, easy breezy read. The whole experience of the book is sweet-hearted, and though it’s aimed for 13+, I can see younger readers liking it as well. It’s a very innocent kind of love story that might also be welcome in the hands of preteen girls. Feelings of being invisible or left out are pretty much universal, and the mangaka herself says she wrote I Am Here! for anyone who has ever felt that way. If that’s the case, she has a lot of readers out there who can appreciate Hikage’s dilemma.

Reviewed by Danica Davidson on October 18, 2011

I Am Here!, Volume 1
written and illustrated by Ema Toyama

  • Publication Date: November 23, 2010
  • Genres: Manga
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey
  • ISBN-10: 0345522435
  • ISBN-13: 9780345522436