Since the fateful night when Satoko saw a little boy playing soccer alone in the garden when he should have been safe at home, four long years have passed. The only boy Mashu has benefited from her support/guidance – though their unexpected friendship leads to her being sent back to Sendai by her boss after a series of unfortunate misunderstandings with Mashu’s widowed father. Although Satoko has been agonizing over her accusation of meddling in family affairs, she also does not regret getting to know Mashu. Perhaps she, too, had secretly known him. After all, she is also the eldest in her family of two brothers, the one who has to act responsibly and take the criticism of a bully parent.
However, Satoko and Mashu are now living in sunny times, putting the anxiety and guilt (on Satoko’s part) behind them and are able to enjoy the warmth of their mutual friendship. Macho’s father is always angry and judgmental, but his eldest son has learned to please him. Satoko becomes more self-accepting, able to distance herself from her mother’s critical situations and be her own person. Even Mashuu’s classmate, Nao Ogata, who’s been a fan of him since they were both in elementary school, understands each other better, and does her best to overcome her disappointment. “You really adore this woman, right?” She tells Mashu of Satoko, who replies without hesitation, “Yes. Do it. But… I can’t hide the truth at all… So maybe I’m not ‘in love’ with it.”
There is also a fictionalized chapter on Satoko, titled “I”, in which she faces the fears and challenges of her past life from early childhood, each step embodied in her mind – and achieves a kind of reconciliation with them. -The same.
It’s natural that when Masho and Satoko meet next time, he finds the soccer ball she gave him long ago and wants to give it back, though she’s reluctant to accept it due to less happy memories it conjures up. At the end, they go to the park to pass the ball between them to see who can keep it. But each pass is controlled by asking and answering a question until they spot a notification warning that ball games are not allowed! So they continue their play on the line, sitting side by side on a park bench, talking and laughing together. It’s a charming and fitting metaphor for where their relationship took them.
Until this last volume, Hitomi Takano’s mangaka made its readers wonder exactly how the story of Satoko and Mashu would be resolved. Although Mashuu has grown into a responsible young man, he is still in high school with his future ahead, not ready to start a romantic relationship with his sweetheart “Miss Satoko”. However, these two know each other so well that they seem like a pre-tied couple, soulmates on an intellectual and instinctive level, separated by a few years of age. Small glimpses of domestic life in Mashu’s house show us how helpful and rational he has become, helping his grandmother cook, washing and running errands, and scolding his father who doesn’t help much with the chores, while his younger brother Ryuichi plays the rebel and makes their father worry.
The cover shows both Satoko and Mashuu against a sunset sky, soft colors highlight their smiling faces as they easily converse together – but their story ends with fireworks. Takano uses the raucous summer festival crowd as a lively backdrop as Satoko meets her office mates and Mashu with her family in the final chapter. We “hear” all kinds of random sounds and exchanges, as if we were also being put up with by the crowd, except that the cell phone serves as a way for Mashu and Satoko to keep in touch. They are “out there” separate and yet together. I feel like it’s supposed to tell us that no matter what, they’ll always be together in spirit. Is the chapter title “To Be Continued” some sort of abandonment clause on the part of the mangaka? This is perhaps more a generous withdrawal than an abdication of the obligation to offer a limited solution than a “life goes on” conclusion. It was always difficult to unravel this story as Mashuu was still in high school without raising issues of a completely different nature, so this remains a true marriage story. However, it is impossible not to feel it And I have I deviated from the bolder implications of previous volumes and played things in a very safe and socially acceptable way – and some readers will be disappointed with the choices Mangaka made.
Vertical Comics (Kodansha) has been translated by Kumar Sivasubramanian which offers a very readable version, as before. Also, congratulations to the (unnamed) message for doing a great job, from text on the phone screen to internal monologues and meaningful conversations.
And therefore, And I have It brings its main characters to a place of decision in which it is understood that they can move forward in positive and rewarding ways. It may not have been the ending we had hoped for and its recent open chapters implying the possibility of a sequel. However, at present, Hitomi Takano writes josei manga (not yet available in translation) with an interesting title Jane the brideSo I don’t expect that to happen any time soon.