Ever read a story completely peppered with forced drama and illogical misunderstandings, but still suffered through because of a strong attachment to the characters? Sounds like Fuuka, right? Almost. This time it’s about Seo Kouji’s other work, Kimi no Iru Machi, or A Town Where You Live in english. Whenever I mention Kimi no Iru Machi to any of the authors here they cringe. However, Kimi has its own special charm that helps it stand out among others.
The first 109 chapters, in my opinion, is the actual masterpiece. We open with Haruto Kirishima’s family suddenly hosting a transfer student in their Hiroshima home. This transfer student, Yuzuki Eba, helps Haruto develop a closer friendship with his crush, Nanami. In the end, however, Haruto ultimately fell for Yuzuki but not long after they get together Yuzuki moves back to Tokyo. After a while of long distance, Yuzuki disappears without a trace. With that, Haruto moves to Tokyo in search of Yuzuki.
After moving to Tokyo, Haruto meets a few new friends – Asuka and Kyousuke – at his new school and this is where the best arc of the manga begins. Haruto becomes quick friends with these two while still searching for Yuzuki. Upon finding out about Kyousuke’s illness, he discovers where Yuzuki’s whereabouts. She abandoned Haruto to become Kyousuke’s girlfriend during his last few moments alive. Awkward, right? Almost all the entirety of the Tokyo arc is the awkward competition Haruto and Kyouske had for Yuzuki’s affection.
This unconventional romance story is why I think this arc is the best across the whole manga. While the actual plot is awkward and unsettling, we are still seeing the excellent interactions between the characters and learn more and more about them as they chapters progress. The actual likability of characters is one of the most appealing elements of Seo’s work. During this arc, Haruto also becomes very close to Asuka, and she arguably becomes the “best girl” of this series. Because of this, it’s surprising to see that Haruto and Asuka end up together after Kyousuke’s passing.
After this point, the manga gets a handful of forced drama with the characters entering college and freshmen entering a new world. Some actual drama happens after they all get accustomed to college and Yuzuki shows up again in Haruto’s life. Seo does excellent work in developing Asuka and Haruto’s relationship enough in the chapters prior that it was absolutely heartbreaking when Haruto cheated and got back together with Yuzuki. This is one thing that stands out to me in this manga. Best girl had already won, and they’ve literally made it to the point that they were just about to go all the way but Yuzuki is shown to be so important to Haruto that he left a girl that was far better off for him than Yuzuki.
A saddened Asuka waiting for Haruto who is off chasing Yuzuki in the woods.
Seo Kouji may be known for a lot of forced drama and severe misunderstandings, but his characters have a certain charm that draws you to them and he has unique situations which usually end up defining the series. Kimi no Iru Machi is an excellent example of this. The very dull slice-of-life with a bit of forced drama portions in the last third of the series was not the best but at least there was a satisfying conclusion to the story. For the fans of other best girl candidates, Seo wrote fantasy versions of chapter 200 to satisfy literally everyone. Out of ten, Kimi no Iru Machi gets a solid eight from me. There is an OVA and an anime adaptation of the Tokyo arc but I suggest just reading the manga instead.