With the Light 2 by Keiko Tobe: B+

With the Light: Raising an Autistic Child is the story of the Azuma family. Eldest son Hikaru has autism, and the series chronicles the struggles and satisfactions that his parents and teachers experience as Hikaru gradually learns to function in the world. This chunky volume from Yen Press, equivalent to volumes three and four of the original Japanese release, focuses on Hikaru’s fourth and fifth grade years and features many different challenging situations in the school setting as well as in broader society.

Though attention is certainly paid to the misunderstandings and problems that result from Hikaru’s lack of understanding of social nuances and situations, the series also takes care to show things that Hikaru is exceptionally good at because of his disability, like putting puzzles together with all of the pieces upside down (since he was never relying on the image to begin with), and mixing paints to perfectly match colors occurring in nature. Seeing Hikaru succeed is very rewarding, and is the aspect of this series that I enjoy most.

As was pointed out in the review of volume one, the series falters in the resolution of complex issues or conflicts. Cruel students and angry shopkeepers are likely to experience swift changes of heart, and a mother who had previously been at a loss on how to handle her autistic daughter has dialogue like, “Wow, she’s learning things faster now than with me yelling at her.” It just doesn’t seem genuine.

One last thing I wish to point out is that Yen Press has clearly taken steps to make this series approachable for readers new to manga. The size of each volume is equivalent to a large paperback book and the Readings Tips section tackles matters from a first-time manga reader’s perspective. I’d be interested to learn how many such readers there are.

Review copy provided by the publisher. Review originally published at Manga Recon.

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