As Hikaru hits his teens and puberty strikes, Sachiko and Masato have to deal with his growing sexual awareness and rebellious attitude. But it’s Kanon that really needs the help as her entry into elementary school leads to teasing over her brother. There’s no rest for the weary though, as on top of these problems, Masato is transferred and the decision is made to move into the Mother-in-Law’s house, which comes with its own set of problems.
Normally, problems that involve Hikaru’s disability affect him directly and in turn those around him. In these two volumes though, Hikaru isn’t affected as much as those around him. Kanon feels the effect the most at the beginning. Hikaru’s growing sexual awareness causes her unease when her friend comes over, and then she has to deal with teasing that borders on bullying from classmates who see Hikaru, but don’t understand. It’s nice to see that Kanon isn’t going to take the bullying, though she does try to hide it from Sachiko and Masato by pretending nothing is wrong.
Sachiko isn’t so lucky in dealing with her bully of a mother-in-law. She can’t just confront her, and explaining things does no good. Even trying to tell Masato how his mother is treating her and Hikaru does little good, as he becomes the “good son” and doesn’t believe that his mother would say or do such things. The more I see of Mother, the less I like her. I don’t think that was the intention, as she is shown saying she regrets how she has treated Hikaru, but she only says it to her dance partner after he is shown to be more patient with the author he assists who has a milder case of autism. She doesn’t say it to her family, who should matter more. Nothing Sachiko or Masato has said made any impact on her, and even after her confession, she doesn’t noticeable change the way she treats Hikaru.
She comes off as very selfish, as she only thinks about the way people will look at her when they find out Hikaru is disabled. Even when she learns there may be things Hikaru could excel at, she seems more interested in how that could help her status than how it could benefit Hikaru. Her treatment of Sachiko also shows her selfishness. You would think she could be more sympathetic, as she was once the daughter-in-law having to deal with the tyranny of the mother-in-law. But she isn’t in the least, and instead seems to take up the role or tyrannical mother-in-law happily. It’s like she’s getting her revenge by making Sachiko’s life miserable, and that’s just childish.
Keiko Tobe died of an illness while the series was still in progress, and you can see she so much more planned for the characters. The final volume ends with storyboards she had been working on while she was ill, which included several set-ups. Sachiko was again going to have problems with one of Hikaru’s teachers. She was also looking to start her own Sunshine House with other parents who were looking another place to take their disabled children. We were going to see more of Hikaru’s classmates from elementary school, Eri and Nobuaki. It really is sad that she died so soon. It is clear she had so much more she wanted to tell about these characters. I really wanted to see what would become of Hikaru when he hit adulthood, and if he could become a self-sufficient adult. The volume does have an ending, but it’s a bittersweet one, knowing there was room for so much more.
Also included in the final volume are two of Tobe’s short stories. “Thank You, Sensei” is about how a substitute teacher affects the lives of two students. The second, “Spring Sunshine” is a bittersweet story about an old man rediscovering the joy a child can bring through a neighborhood boy.These stories reveal a nurturing personality that is tempered with some of the harshness of reality, things that have made With the Light such a great series. If you haven’t picked up this series yet, do yourself a favor and read a volume. You’ll thank me for it.