Evergreen, Vol. 1

By Yuyuko Takemiya and Akira Kasukabe. Released in Japan by ASCII Media Works, serialized in the magazine Dengeki Daioh. Released in North America by Seven Seas.

Sometimes a series has to work hard to get out from under the preconceptions it carries and also the tropes it seems inspired by. Evergreen is from the author of Toradora!, something I was rather surprised wasn’t mentioned at least on the back cover, and therefore already has some expectations since Toradora! is one of those rare harem series that actually is enjoyed by female readers. Unlike the author’s other series, this one is a manga original, though. It also has the extreme misfortune of coming out scant weeks after Kodansha’s shonen series Your Lie in April, which features a sullen teen who has given up on any hopes or dreams who is inspired by a gorgeous beauty who turns out to be rather eccentric. As it turns out, the series don’t really share much in common besides that, but there is a threat of “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” hanging over the whole thing.

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Having gotten that out of the way, there’s a lot I enjoyed here. On-chan (if she gets a full name, I missed it) is really fun, carrying most of the comedy on her back, and having a nice love-hate relationship with Sora, who she will clearly end up with but for now is content to simply beat up. As for the two leads, the awkwardness both of them have interacting with each other is handled very well, and I like Hotaka’s imaginary “I am smooth and cool” fantasies that occasionally intrude before reality ensues. The awkwardness doesn’t just end with his relationship with Niki, though – his past guilt and physical condition have left him a bit broken, and I empathized with him a great deal when he visited his paternal grandmother, who is dying in the hospital.

I am interested to see if the plot goes in the direction that it’s hinting at, and how the manga will handle it. Hotaka’s heart condition seems to have a parallel with the sudden nosebleed that Niki got, and the visit to the grandmother reveals that there is another sibling who is supposed to be involved that we don’t know about. It’s not hard to put two and two together, but if I skipped every manga because of potential incest these days, I’d never read anything. I am pretty confident, having read Toradora!, which handles various serious plots like parental neglect and abandonment with a deft hand, that Evergreen is not likely to go down that road. And the art is quite pretty (fanservicey color page aside), making this a very smooth read. It’s only four volumes long, so I don’t think that any of the major plot bombs hinted at should drag on too long, and these are good kids, so I want to see them overcome their difficulties.

To sum up: Evergreen is not exceedingly original, and may rely a bit too much on some well-worn cliches, but its heart appears to be in the right place, and I want to see how it deals with the reveal I have a sneaking suspicion is coming soon.

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Comments

  1. “Kodansha’s shoujo series Your Lie in April”

    I think you had a neuron misfire there; it’s from Monthly Shounen Magazine, which, last time I checked, was still a shounen magazine. :)

    I have an immense amount of cognitive dissonance over this series, because the artist does a lot of illustrations for otokonoko series (men’s moe-fied crossdressing-fetish material), including all of the covers for the late lamented magazine WAai! Boys in Skirts, and so whenever I see her art I expect the doe-eyed cuties to come with special bonus content, if you know what I mean. I have to keep reminding myself that no, these are actually girls…


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