Author: Takuji ICHIKAWA (市川拓司)
Published by 小学館文庫
This novel was first published in 2003 and soon became a bestseller. In 2004, the story was adapted into film by Japanese director Nobuhiro Doi (土井裕泰). In 2018, Korean director Lee Jang-hoon (이장훈) made a remake of the film, under the title 지금 만나러 갑니다 (in Japanese: Be With You – いま、会いにゆきます). This film, featuring stars like So Ji-sub (소지섭) and Son Ye-jin (손예진), has become a blockbuster in Korea and was released in Japan in 2019.
When the Korean movie came out, the idea of watching it did not even cross my mind, because it is not the kind of films that I enjoy watching. At the time, I did not know that it was an adaptation of a Japanese novel. Though I had already seen the cover of 『いま、会いにゆきます』several times in bookshops or on Amazon, I failed to make the connection until I saw a copy of the book with the obi advertising for the Korean movie.
『いま、会いにゆきます』 has a beautiful story with interesting and likable characters, it deals with a heavy topic (the death of a mother and wife) but remains positive and at times even funny. Finally, it gives precious life lessons.
I only have positive things to say about the novel, but it was not quite the kind of books that I enjoy reading. I would never have read this book in English or in my mother tongue, it is simply not the kind of novels that I usually read.
This being said, I was engrossed in the story, and I read it very quickly. It took me less than a week to read and I even managed to read 200 pages on a single day (in Japanese, this is undoubtedly an achievement). There are a lot of dialogues in the book, and I found it easy to read in Japanese.
I liked the structure of the book, how past and present progress together, I liked the characters, their inner struggles and their unconventional love story, I liked the writing style of the author and how the dialogues made me feel very close to the characters.
I also liked how the author managed to talk about heavy topics with an overall positive attitude. The story is certainly not a lighthearted one, but, while it has some sad moments, I personally did not find it depressing at all. Towards the end, though, I started feeling a little bored. As a result, I may have lacked involvement, precisely at a time when the story was at its peak in terms of emotions. I also felt bored when reading dialogues including the six-year-old Yuji (I often find children’s conversation not to be that exciting in novels), but was grateful that they were so easy to read in Japanese.
Overall, I recommend this novel. Even I, who is not the best public for this kind of stories, read it until the end without thinking once to give it up, so if you like stories that include family bonds, children and first love romances, you will love it for sure.
Reading challenge update: one challenge completed!