Sep 13, 2012
Sanagami (All reviews)
Take a moment and think extremely hard about how you felt when you were 10 years old. After doing that, think about how you feel about people who are 10 right now?

Right from the start I kind of knew why I would like this manga. I’ve developed a huge respect to writers who can develop characters from the age 7-10 because I think it’s the hardest age to remember and capture on paper. At this age, there is no doubt you are naïve, with little experience of the world. Many of them still look at this world with a very bright perspective. Many of them still trust their parents; as if divorce was still a rare occurrence. Many of them still believe that their dreams can be achieved without a doubt.

I sometimes find myself laughing at them but their naïve nature is exactly what makes them smarter than us sometimes. I guess older people get too caught up in what’s real and try to make too many calculations before we take steps in life that we fail to realize the important things. This causes the author to have the burden of making their main character seem naïve enough so we believe she is 10, but to use that ignorance to allow her to make decisions that even we will respect. One of the best examples is ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, where Harper Lee uses Scout Finch to great use. Through her, we fail to understand why the adults are discriminating blacks because she doesn’t understand it. Adults would call her young and immature, and to a certain extent she is, which is why her immaturity sort of makes her smarter than the adults in the story. Yet through her uncertainty, and the cruelty she’s seen, the book is still rather hopeful because children really do carry hope wherever they go.

Similarly to ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, Yamamoto Zenjirou to Moushimasu(YZM) has one thing in mind when trying to use such a young main character. YZM tackles dark themes but holds a very hopeful atmosphere. Hotate is a girl whose always been able to see ghosts when she was young. The story starts with her going to her dad’s and her dad tells her to use her powers to help people. Through this she helps ghosts get rid of their regrets. It’s not the most original of stories so you can tell that many of these ghosts have died with dark pasts and dark regrets, but the manga still manages to have a bright atmosphere. Heck, everything is still, for a more cliché term, cute. Hotate herself does not have the happiest life but is determined to help everyone around her and makes mature decisions all the time even though its apparent she is naïve.

Each of the other characters carries the same sort of mood. Many of Hotate’s classmates that are introduced have experienced death first hand. Yet after Hotate helps them, they struggle and live their life normally as best as they can. The ghosts all have dark pasts but the endings are always happy because they need to take the next step forward. All the adults, the old villagers are playful and are presented as if they are enjoying life to the fullest.

Well, in the end, the most interesting character is definitely Zenjirou and I guess that’s why the manga is called YZM in the first place - literally translated as My Name is Yamamoto Zenjirou. Zenjirou is Hotate’s dad and I guess he’s what defines an adult. To be honest, I think this is where the main point lies. Zenjirou reminds me of Koiwai from Yotsubato in a lot of ways as he acts like a child. That doesn’t mean he isn’t mature, in fact it’s very obvious he’s one of the most mature characters I’ve ever met. He keeps all his emotions in himself and tries to protect Hotate as best as he can. He carries a lot of responsibility in taking care of his daughter. It’s just, he’s just not afraid to act like a child and have fun. I feel the mangaka wants to show that growing up doesn’t mean we are supposed to get rid of our child-like thinking. To be more mature doesn’t mean that you can’t have imagination and you can’t have dreams.

Besides the amazing characters, I like a lot of small tweaks in the manga. Firstly, the jokes are pretty funny and I’ve laughed quite a few times. They also help brighten up the atmosphere a lot. Another thing I really like is the way the story balances a sort of dreamy atmosphere due to the farm and the village life. It worked really well with the supernatural element but it was also ironic because most of the times ghost appeared, a more serious tone would take over. The art was also very good at setting the mood as many things were drew to look really relaxing. For example, those bubbles drawn in the air really helped in portraying a sunny village that was just having fun. The romance and the mystery subplots are also a huge plus.

While I have been complimenting how bright this manga has been, make no mistake, this manga has very dark themes. It’s just they are presented in a way that should give us hope. Life is important, and we should live the fullest, in any way we want to.