With the Light
|With the Light|
Cover of the first volume of With the Light
(Hikari to Tomoni... ~Jiheishōji o Kakaete~)
|Written by||Keiko Tobe|
|Published by||Akita Shoten|
|English publisher||Yen Press|
|Original run||2000 – June 2010|
|Original run||April 14, 2004 – June 23, 2004|
With the Light: Raising an Autistic Child (光とともに…〜自閉症児を抱えて〜 Hikari to Tomoni… ~Jiheishōji o Kakaete~?) is a josei drama manga by Keiko Tobe. It began serialization in 2000 in For Mrs., and serial chapters were collected in 15 tankōbon volumes by Akita Shoten. The series depicts the struggles of a young mother, Sachiko Azuma, raising her autistic son Hikaru in modern Japan. The series is licensed in English in North America by Yen Press, with eight volumes (each collecting two tankōbon volumes with the exception of the final volume) published as of September 2011.
In January 2009, the series went on hiatus due to Tobe's illness and remained uncompleted when she died in January 2010. Her works during her illness were collected and published with some of her earlier works as volume 15 in June 2010.
The series received an Excellence Prize for manga at the 2004 Japan Media Arts Festival. It was adapted as a television drama, airing on NTV from April 14, 2004 to June 23, 2004, which won several awards at Japan's 41st Television Drama Academy Awards, including "Best Drama". The theme song was performed by Rythem.
With the Light: Raising an Autistic Child is about a family whose son Hikaru is autistic. The manga series begins with Hikaru’s birth and how his mother Sachiko gradually comes to realize that her son is ‘different.’ Hikaru’s condition is initially faced with denial and lack of understanding within the family and extended family, and later with the prejudice, ignorance and indifference of many in society. The initial volumes focus on Hikaru’s situation at school – where the faculty is ill-equipped to deal with autistic children – and with the other special needs children in Hikaru’s class and their families. Hikaru’s parents eventually have a second child, a daughter named Kanon, who does not have autism.
- Sachiko Azuma (née Nishiyama)
- The primary character in the series and Hikaru's mother. In the beginning of the series, she finds herself battling the difficulties of raising an autistic child along with the indifference of her husband and society blaming her for her son's condition.
- Masato Azuma
- Sachiko's husband and Hikaru's father. Early on, Masato seemed to be unsympathetic to what Sachiko was going through in while he was at work. This was half true; Masato's high-level position in the company he worked for provided a good income for his family, but took hours of strenuous work, leaving him little time to talk to her. The other half of the coin was that Masato was embarrassed by Hikaru's behavior and upset by his diagnosis. He and Sachiko separated temporarily after a fight about Hikaru's behavior and Masato's refusal to face the issue. Without her around to make sure he was taking care of himself, he collapsed from overwork in the first volume of the series. This event prompted him to rethink his priorities and he settled instead on trying to become a better father to Hikaru. Masato is demoted in the third volume by a vicious superior and sent to a factory far away where no one lasts more than a few days, if a week. With no work to do, Masato completes a series of proposals for products and ideas to improve the lives of disabled people and find them work within the company. These proposals get him promoted in volume four and he sets about setting up a mushroom factory in the factory where he was sent with the intention of having it staffed by disabled persons, perhaps even Hikaru someday.
- Hikaru Azuma
- Sachiko and Masato's firstborn: an autistic little boy. His autism showed up a few days after his birth. Hikaru hated to be picked up and held as a baby and did not grow in step with children his age, leading Sachiko to seek a doctor for him. He always has been wearing diapers for a long time because of his autism. Hikaru dislikes loud and painful noises such as crowds, Buddhist chanting, and babies crying. He likes trains and memorizes many of them, including ones no longer running. Like many autistic people, when something is changed in his routine without any warning, such as a show switching times or being canceled, it upsets him, though later in the series he and his parents know how to handle the situation better. Later in his childhood, he shows some unique talents including cooking and mixing colors. Sachiko gave him his name because as she says often: "My boy came with the morning light."
- Kanon Azuma
- Sachiko and Masato's second child, a little girl who is born towards the end of the first volume (second volume of the Japanese version). She does not have autism like her brother. Despite this, Sachiko hopes that her two children will grow to care for and teach one another together. She was named after the type of music she listened to while giving birth to her (canon). She was also born during a typhoon while Masato was away in Sweden.
- Shigeru Aoki-sensei
- The special education teacher at Shichgatsu Cho Elementary; a clever and optimistic instructor who transferred from a school for the disabled because he thought staying with the same teacher for a long time wouldn't benefit the students in the special education class. In the four years he spends with Hikaru, he helps him to grow.
- Noriko Wakabayashi-sensei
- The teacher for the 'buddy system' class at Shichigatsu Cho Elementary, who works closely with Aoki to benefit the students.
- Described as having once been a 'passionate teacher', Gunji becomes the new special education teacher after Aoki in Hikaru's fifth year. In the beginning, Gunji is cranky and only has one year of teaching left. Through trial and error, she eventually regains her passion for teaching children.
- Miyu Honda
- Miyu enters the story in the second volume of 'With the Light' (third of the tankōbon). She is autistic like Hikaru but is underdeveloped due to neglect from her preschool and when she first entered elementary school, she was banned completely before Aoki took her under his wing.
- Moe Nakajima
- Hikaru's childhood friend who cared for him in preschool. Moe is very good with children and hopes to become a preschool teacher someday.
- Daisuke Ishida
- Ishida was an upperclassman of Hikaru's and his partner in tending to the school vegetable garden. He enjoyed the time he spent with Hikaru because he was an only child who had always wanted a little brother.
- Takuya Oki
- Oki was jealous of Hikaru's loving family because he was abused by his alcoholic father. Also, his mother runs away from the house with another man, leaving Takuya devastated. But when one day he sees Hikaru wander onto a bus by himself, he goes after him out of worry that he can't explain. Later, Oki's father dies of liver damage, causing Oki to be sent to an orphanage, where he is abused by a group of sixth graders. However, he was soon helped by Masato, and possibly got transferred to another orphanage.
- Kanata Tanaka
- A childhood friend of Hikaru's who moved away to pursue a career as a teen idol.
- Hisako Nakajima
- Moe's mother. After Moe climbed up an ad tower with Hikaru during preschool, she grew to resent him and his mother, blaming them for her daughter's near-death experience. At home, she lives with her daughter and mother, whom she takes care of after suffering from a stroke. After seeing how devoted her daughter is to Hikaru, she begins to accept him for who he is on the first day of elementary school.
- One of Sachiko's friends. Like Moe's mother, she begins to resent the Azuma family due to her fits of jealousy over their seemingly perfect demeanor. Her daughter, Eri, attends Hikaru's school and admits to not telling the teachers that she saw Hikaru being locked in the toy shed after recess one day, afraid of being hit by her father like he did to her mother.
- One of Sachiko's friends. Unlike Mrs. Katakura, she stands to defend her friend's family while attending to her own son, Kanata. Sachiko comments that despite the fact that she dresses flashy, she's always a devoted mother and loyal friend.
- Takako Azuma
- Masato's mother. She at first blames her daughter-in-law for making Hikaru autistic, but later finds out the truth and forgives her and her family. While she does not blame Sachiko for Hikaru's autism anymore, she still has not completely warmed up to him. She is very devoted to Kanon, to the point of ignoring Hikaru. In tankōbon three, she berades Sachiko for putting Kanon in daycare and letting her act "crude." She presses her son and daughter-in-law to send Kanon to the same school as her other granddaughter, going so far as to offer to let Kanon, but only Kanon, live with her to cut down on the commute. Masato rebuffs her offer. She tends to alternate between a kimono and Western clothing.
- Mr. & Mrs. Nishiyama
- Sachiko's parents. After she stomps out after arguing with her husband, she lives with them for a period of time until Masato collapses at work and decides to become a better father to Hikaru. Mrs. Nishiyama has frail health, while Mr. Nishiyama is close to retirement. Sachiko doesn't like to burden them, but occasionally her mother comes and helps out.
The manga began serialization in For Mrs. in 2000. Serial chapters have been collected in 15 tankōbon volumes by Akita Shoten. The series is licensed in English by Yen Press for North America, which is collecting two tankōbon volumes in each English volume.
- "With the Light: Raising an Autistic Child by Keiko Tobe". Yen Press. Retrieved March 24, 2008.
- "With the Light Manga Creator Keiko Tobe Passes Away". Anime News Network. January 29, 2010. Retrieved January 29, 2010.
- "2004 Japan Media Arts Festival Manga Division Excellence Prize HIKARI TO TOMONI.". Japan Media Arts Plaza. Retrieved 2008-03-24.
- "Rythem Duo to Disband After February Live Concert". Anime News Network. October 26, 2010. Retrieved January 8, 2015.
- "WITH THE LIGHT: Raising an Autistic Child by Keiko Tobe". Yen Press. Retrieved January 30, 2010.
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