A year ago Takumi's young wife Mio died from an illness, leaving behind him, their six-year-old son Yuji, and a homemade picture book, which described her going to a planet called Archive (where people who have passed away live as long as they're remembered) but returning at the beginning of the next rainy season. To Takumi's astonishment, exactly that does happen, although the woman who seems to be Mio has lost her memory. The book also says that Mio can only stay for the duration of the rainy season, and since her death Takumi has harbored doubts about whether or not she was actually happy with him, so he is reluctant to get close to her at first. As he helps fill in the gaps for Mio, though, they find each other falling in love all over again. But the mystery remains as to how she actually came to be there, and as Takumi eventually discovers, it is rooted in both their past and future.
Be With You has one of the neatest premises I’ve ever heard of. Unfortunately, the manga (originally a novel, which I have not read) failed to deliver. It’s a shame, since it really has a great concept: a young man (along with his son) meets the ghost of his wife and gets to spend a bit more time with her before she must leave him for good. To add an extra twist, the woman doesn’t know she’s a ghost!
But no matter how interesting it may sound from the back cover, the storyline just didn’t progress very well. It seems like it will be cute and
heartwarming, but falls flat when it fails to give any real message or impact. The creators of this manga didn’t particularly try – or just failed – to make the readers feel any particular emotions when reading the story. It has no elements of touching romance, gripping mystery, or calm slice-of-life; it’s just… there. Things happen, but there’s no reason to care.
The art certainly doesn’t help matters much. The basic style is cute, but somewhat sketchy. It’s the kind of art that would go best with extremely simple backgrounds and page layouts to emphasize the simplicity of the story it accompanies. Unfortunately, the artist instead clutters each page with too many details and panels, a total discredit to the art. The whole manga suffers because of this unfortunate happening.
The characters are no saving grace either. They’re a more-or-less generic family that exists to carry out the story efficiently; there are no surprises or twists in character development. Unfortunately, since the story of Be With You is already quite weak, there’s really no place for the characters to shine. Sure, they have plenty of qualities that are desirable in people, but none that interesting characters need. Nothing sets them apart from the crowd.
Unlike some manga that I give similarly low scores to, Be With You has nothing particularly disgusting, offensive, or boring. On the other hand, the plot’s not all that interesting yet not particularly faulty otherwise; the art’s not very attractive but could be worse; and the cast is good enough but far from great. In the end, Be With You is nothing short of being plainly, utterly without any prominent advantages and faults – that is, average.