I absolutely love this book and can't wait to read the volumes following this one.
One character who really impressed me was Moe-Chan, Hikaru's classmate. The pair meet in day care and it is interesting to watch the way they interact. Moe's ribbons attracted Hikaru, who would pull them out as he thought they looked like ropes. Moe understood about her classmate - she was very tolerant of him and let him come to her in his way.
Moe made no requests nor placed any demands on Hikaru; she was not a loud or pushy peer and she accepted Hikaru on his terms. When the boy climbed a tree on the schoolyard, it was Moe who climbed after him, telling him that they'd be okay if they just sang. Moe talked him into calmness until help arrived.
The pair meet later in the early grades. Hikaru leaned on Moe to pass along a desired toy and to interpret for him. She was a very tolerant personality and very nonthreatening to Hikaru. The same could be said for Tanaku, a boy in Hikaru's class who was also in a toddler/playground group with Hikaru. He, too showed tolerance for his peer with autism.
Nobuaki was a very interesting character. He was outgoing, loud, aggressive but all within a normal range. His type of personality was fun-loving and boisterous. He understandably reacted with anger when Hikaru, his day care classmate scribbled on a drawing he was making. In time, he learned to accept Hikaru and others noticed that Nobuaki has "gotten kinder" and showed genuine excitement when Hikaru acknowledged him in some way.
Moe was, I believe instrumental in paving the way for Hikaru socially. The child of a single mother who also shared her home with her grandmother, Moe learned early in life that when someone is ill or hurt, you help them. Her grandmother, early in the story was recovering from a stroke. Moe's mother and a day nurse took care of her until she was able to walk again. Moe's grandmother, in turn accepted Hikaru with open heart, mind and arms.
In thinking more about it, this whole wonderful book is all about learning tolerance. Hikaru's neighbors from the Philippines, initially scorned by their building manger come through like the Cavalry for Hikaru and accepted him wholeheartedly. In learning more about the neighbors from the Philippines, harsh negative judgments are replaced with sympathy and tolerance. Their life experiences and backgrounds were different from what their Japanese neighbors knew and like Hikaru, had to learn new social mores and customs. It was heartwarming to see how the neighbors, along with Hikaru were accepted by others in their building. It also was a good lesson in that people really are not that different and despite cultural experiences and individuality, people have much more in common than they have differences.
I just love this book and the characters. I find them all very interesting and watching them "evolve" or "grow" has been a real treat.