Although I have all 6 volumes of the series, because my Japanese is far from fluent and since I'm trying to actually read and understand the story, I still have not yet finished reading them all. Please keep that in mind. As always, if I say something incorrect please write to me at the address below and let me know!

The story takes place over several years, and revolves around the lives of four young boys, Graham, Angie, Sarnin, and Max. All four have had very difficult lives, and it seems that things don't always get easier for them as time goes by. However, their love and devotion to each other helps bring them through hard times. Despite adversity caused by separation, injury, depression, and death, it's clear that these four are meant to be together.

While some parts of the story are very serious, other parts will literally make you laugh out loud. While you read the story, there are many times you'll wish you could reach through the panel to give one of the kids a big hug. And some scenes are absolutely disturbing in the worst possible way; they haunt you long after you've put the book away. There is so much emotion running through this series, that by the time you've finished reading one of the longer story arcs you feel like your heart has been put through the wringer. Then it's refreshing to sit back and read one of the short stories that dot the series, stories that may not necessarily be defined within the continuity of the series as a whole, but that add an interesting flavor to the manga. Many of these short stories are silly and cute, though some are surreal bordering on bizarre. And many have an experimental feel to them, like the author was having fun, playing with the medium. One thing is for certain - they're never boring!

It's clear that the author loved this manga, and that is reflected strongly in the strength of the characters, story, and artwork. It's no surprise that there was a strong following in Japan. I want to encourage others who love Japanese manga to give this one a try.

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Jennifer Califf <>