Born during the sunrise—an auspicious beginning—the Azumas' newborn son is named Hikaru, which means "light." But during one play date, his mother notices that her son is slightly different from the other children. In this alternately heartwarming and bittersweet tale, a young mother tries to cope with both the overwhelming discovery of her child's autism and the trials of raising him while keeping her family together. This is a story that resonates not only for those whose families have been affected by autism, but also for all past, present, and future parents.
(Source: Yen Press)
Volume 15: Thank You Sensei!, Haru no Manazashi
In 2004, Hikari to Tomo ni...: Jiheishouji wo Kakaete won the 8th Japan Media Arts Festival's Award of Excellence in manga division, and was adapted into a live-action TV drama series.
In 2010, after the author's death the last two unfinished chapters in their manuscripts format were published in the magazine, and later included in the last volume, deeming the series as incomplete. On the 30th anniversary since Tobe's debut in 2016, Kawasaki Mei drawn those two chapters concluding the story.
The series was published in a 2-in-1 omnibus edition in English as With the Light... Raising an Autistic Child by Yen Press from September 24, 2007 to September 20, 2011.
This is my first time rating a manga so I apologize if there are any mistakes.
I give this manga...a perfect, pure, concentrated 100/100!
Yep! You read that rating right! I feel this is the single greatest and best manga of all time!...yet it's so underrated and underappreciated! But the appreciators who DO love it are truly devoted to this beautiful and majestic manga! I honestly feel that this is one of the most ground-breaking and wonderful and incomparable manga ever created! This is my number one all time favorite manga. And I can give A TON of reasons for it being sooooo wonderful!
The premise of this
manga is actually very surprising and unusual, and not many other manga have done this before! The manga's about a young mother who discovers her beloved son, Hikaru, has autism, a developmental disorder of the brain that affects communication and social interaction. The Azuma family go through both hardship and joy as they go on a journey to help their son live to be a "cheerful, working adult" when he gets older.
I'm autistic myself, so I relate to this manga on an extremely personal level. In fact, I didn't even know this manga even existed until 2008, when I accidentally came across a Wikipedia article about it! I was so surprised and overjoyed that I literally begged my dad to order the first two volumes (volumes 3 and up weren't out back then) off of Amazon! And boy, am I glad I did! This manga has won a very very VERY special place in my heart. Even the awesomeness that is Shounen Onmyouji (my number one favorite anime of all time) couldn't compare to this manga's beauty and divinity! And boy do I have a TON of praises for this beautiful, sublime, and wonderful manga!
Let me start with the story first. Autism is a very controversial yet well known subject nowadays, yet this manga wasn't published until the late 90s, and autism wasn't all that well known in Japan just yet. Heck, NO manga before that time has ever even DARED to tackle the issue that is autism! But in this manga, it's done absolutely wonderfully! The plot is adorably consistent, the portrayal of autistic children (and adults) are absolutely spot-on, and the development is fantastic! Of course, the manga, while having an optmistic and warm and kind-hearted message behind it, refuses to shy away from discrimination and social prejudice toward the autistic. Thankfully, there's no insane melodrama or unnecessary angst or complicated matters or anything of the like. In fact, if you ever have an autistic relative or are autistic yourself, you can actually relate to these problems and issues!
And the characters! My goodness, the characters are absolutely and positively wonderful! Sachiko, the mother in this series, is a wonderful and strong character who is able to carry the weight of this manga perfectly. She's a wonderful depiction of a mother trying to raise an autistic child. Of course in the beginning she's in denial and feels alone and abandoned regarding her son, and on one occasion she even takes her anger out on Hikaru, but she grows and develops and learns and accepts whatever she's been given. Her husband, Masato, is also great too! At first he may seem like the stereotype of a cold and uncaring parent, but that's simply not true. In the beginning, he's simply too young and inexperienced to be the star husband and employee that his family, and society, want him to be. And like Sachiko, he grows and learns and accepts what he's given and doesn't look back. I love that in a character! Hikaru...awwww, what can I say about him!? He's soooo adorable and a wonderful portrayal of an autistic child, though I will confess that I haven't met any children like him in my country (America). But I can easily see a character like him in real life! And the minor characters. The family and friends are also wonderfully depicted and developed. Even the very minor characters who only appear for one chapter or more are given a little impact and personality! There's always something about them all that leaves an impression. How can you go wrong with that!?
The artwork...of course it looks rather old school shoujo manga-esque with round, sparkly eyes and all that. Thankfully, the artwork never loses it's edge. In fact, even with its simplicity, it really makes everything feel real and soft and warm-feeling, like you're actually seeing the characters and actually playing the events of the manga in your head! No page feels overly extravagant or overly bland. The artwork is nice and well-balanced. Plus, it really captures the emotions the characters feel and the events going on in each chapter fantastically! Wonderful! Sublime! Nothing is wasted and nothing is overly used.
In general...I can only label this manga as sublime and wonderful. One of the best ever. An amazing and beautiful and authentic portrayal of a family raising an autistic child! And I NEVER say these words for anything unless I'm really pulled in by it! Of course, the manga doesn't ENTIRELY focus on JUST the family and their autistic child. In fact, the manga also tries to develop the characters around them and give them some depth and development and impact on the story from other families with autistic children to the children Hikaru befriended (albeit impassively) and even the relatively minor characters! Even so, this is a wonderful manga that truly deserves more attention in this world.
One thing I was terribly upset about was when the author of this manga, Tobe Keiko, died abruptly in January of 2010. You couldn't believe how upset I was. I even thought it was a joke until I started losing it. I cried so much I even woke my parents up at 6:00 in the morning, I was THAT heartbroken! And the manga isn't even finished yet! Well, I guess it is now considering Yen Press is releasing the posthumous final volume of this manga later this year. Waaaahhh!! Why did she have to die!? She still has so much to give to the world! But what she did give will be greatly cherished and remembered. We will always remember Keiko Tobe and the great things she achieved in life, this manga being her highest and best achievement.
If there's one thing I want out of this manga, it's this: A FREAKING ANIME ADAPTATION!!! That's right! This manga would be a GREAT anime if handled by the right staff and production company! We need more realistic anime like this nowadays! We're tired of being bombared by big-boobed, underwear flashing, overblown moe and incest and ecchi moe garbage!!! So many awesome manga like this are left in the dark while stupider titles get adapted! Well, all's not lost. There's apparently a 13-episode live-action TV drama of it. I only saw the first episode, but I plan on watching the rest of it this year.
All in all, this is a sublime and divine manga! The best ever! GO READ IT NOW!!!
This is a very good manga, even if you don't know anybody with autism. If you do, the manga has little blurbs of advice interspersed with the story, which I thought was a nice touch.
I noticed that there is never any trouble with insurance, or tuition, because it takes place in Japan.
One area where the story was sometimes not very realistic: Sachiko is often looking to choose a daycare/kindergarten/school for Hikaru. When this happens, there is usually a daycare center that treats the disabled kids really negligently, and then there is one that treats them awesome. She rarely sees any schools that have both good
and bad things about them.
People who have not read manga before can still feel comfortable with reading With The Light. The best example of this is the sound effects: Rather than replacing the kana with English, or putting a cumbersome glossary of SFX in the back, the equivalent sound effect is written along with the kana. So next to ビュッ (byu!) is written "whoosh!".
The characters are believable, and overall it's a pretty well-done story!
This story tells what life is like for those who take care of a autistic child. It shows the hardships, and joys that come with raising an autistic child. This manga helps those who do not know much on the subject of autism to better understand it. I highly recommend this manga to those who wish to learn more about autism, or are very interested in this subject.