I’m not sure how to qualify this manga review. So far, I have read four full volumes of I Cannot Rach you so it’s hardly a first impression post anymore. I thought about waiting until I could give you a complete review, but this manga started in 2018 and it’s still releasing so I have no clue when it will be complete.
In the end, I figured this was a good time to put my review together. A nice light BL manga for when you feel that urge!
Why I Picked up I Cannot Reach You
I had actually started reading I Cannot Reach You online just on a whim and I quite liked the first few chapters. So when I saw that an English physical copy was getting released, I decided to buy it officially and stopped reading the digital version.
It turns out that I quite like the books. It’s difficult to explain. There’s nothing all that special about the manga but they are a good size. All the spines are perfectly white except for a different character peaking for a corner and of course the title. It looks pretty on a shelf in my opinion. And I like the soft colours on the covers.
No matter how much time we spend together, I’ll never become special to you.
Childhood best friends. Two halves of a whole. The cool, smart one who’s good at almost everything, and his average, dorky friend who struggles to do anything right—Yamato and Kakeru. Always by the other’s side, but not together in the way they truly want to be. No matter how hard they try, their hearts cannot reach each other…
My First Impression
Look at these nice boys
What I liked
Both the title and the official summary make this manga sound way more dramatic than it is.
In many ways, it makes me think of Sasaki and Miyano. That’s the level of drama we’re at. And for those that have not seen Sasaski and Miyano what I mean is no character in this manga has suffered any sort of trauma. There is no abuse, no child neglect no death of a loved one in their past. They are completely normal high school students who have lived a generally happy and uneventful life.
I Cannot Reach you does go over the line of consent in one scene but it is very light and treated as a bad thing. Again, pretty much the same level as Sasaki and Miyano in that regard.
Both main characters have friends and family which means there is a bit of an ensemble going on. This helps each of them feel more like their own complete character rather than just half of the main couple.
I also like that both characters are really quite normal and sensible when it comes to the situation. The homosexual aspect is treated in such a refreshingly calm way. Yes of course there is some consideration that it’s the type of relationship that still carries stigma in Japan but pretty much every character in the book agrees that it shouldn’t be a deciding factor. If anything, Kakeru is much more concerned about the emotional acrobatics required to start viewing a childhood friend you’ve known as long as you can remember in a whole new light as a romantic partner.
This can go both ways so I’m going to put the next point in both good and bad. The pacing is pretty slow. After four volumes, one of the boys has only just recently confessed and the other is now trying to figure things out on his end. That often happens in the first few pages or so.
The good thing about this is that we really get to know the characters outside the context of a relationship. It allows for a slice of life type of storytelling that explores the entire friend group without insisting too much on the central couple and it gives more variety to the manga overall.
If you’re not in a hurry to see kissy time, there’s something soothing about just taking the time to live in the moment.
Like I said, it goes two ways. At certain points, I was just thinking tell him already or talk to each other! Happily, they don’t use the trope of having one partner drastically misunderstand a situation and then blow everything out of proportion. They are in fact very good about having the characters never really assume anything and check with the other in case of doubt. Communication helps, go figure!
What they do instead however, is have the characters be too shy, scared or embarrassed to ask a question directly so they just dance around it or decide to wait until next time and leave things a bit up in the air in the meantime. This happens a lot. Sure, there are other stories happening during those times, or else it would be downright infuriating, but it can still feel like the story is dragging here and there.
This happens in a lot of stories, and I think especially in romances, but I find that the supporting cast is more interesting than the leads. Yamato and Kakeru are fine boys. They’re sweet and their personalities play well off each other. And they’re also a bit like stock B characters. There nothing wrong with them, they’re just a bit bland.
On the other hand, Yamato’s supportive and perceptive little sister is always fun to see. Amamiya and Fujino, their school friends have huge personalities that fill up a page and Yui is a perfect troll that’s always good for a laugh or to stir things up. I found myself wanting to learn a bit more about the supporting cast on several occasions.
Even though I can’t say there’s anything special about I Cannot Reach You, there’s also nothing that I dislike and that in itself is kind of special. It’s a more relaxed and respectful BL than 99% of the ones out there. I also like the art. So if you’re just looking for a little BL without too much drama, then it’s a good choice!