Adachi and Shimamura, Vol. 3

By Hitoma Iruma and Non. Released in Japan by Dengeki Bunko. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Molly Lee.

There was a wondrous moment about two-thirds of the way through this book which really made me sit up and take notice. No, Adachi did not actually work up the nerve to confess – heck, even Valentine’s chocolate proves to be almost too much for her to handle. No, Yashiro did not wave goodbye and go back to her own planet, though the author remains very good about keeping it up in the air as to whether she’s an alien of a chuuni. But for one, brief, shining moment, Shimamura was interesting. She met up with a friend from her old school, who seemed to want very much to rekindle their friendship, and Shimamura being who she is, “sure, OK, I guess” was the response. We see the two of them travel on the train together, go to the mall together… and it is the most painful, awkward thing you will ever see. It’s unclear what Shimamura actually gets from this consciously, but unconsciously I think the answer is clear: Adachi is not like other friends.

As noted above, we are right around Valentine’s Day. Adachi wants to exchange chocolates, which she communicates to Shimamura in the most awkward panicky way possible. Shimamura, who has come to the conclusion that Adachi is simply desperate for basic human contact due to her family situation, agrees with this. The two then have what amounts to normal pre-Valentine’s adventures, mostly separate, though they do meet up for video games at Hino’s place. Adachi thinks far too much about astrology, tries to make homemade chocolate and then backs off completely, and is essentially a complete mess. Shimamura runs into not one but TWO old friends from school, and realizes that she barely even remembers anything they did anymore. That said, she also gets the bulk of dealing with Yashiro. When the 14th finally comes, we get a clear winner, and it’s Shimamura.

It was suggested to me on Twitter that Shimamura might be suffering from depression. Certainly I’d argue she’s suffering from malaise, which influences most of her actions and makes her the passive narrator that drives me crazy. It’s a funny running gag that Adachi imagines Shimamura’s response to doing anything and it’s always the equivalent of “meh”. This pays off here in two ways. First, the scenes with Tarumi help to show off that Shimamura struggles as much as Adachi with basic human responses, in particular the idea of “what friendship is”. Tarumi wants to rekindle their relationship (and, the reader suspects, perhaps wants a bit more than that), but Shimamura just is not able to respond to that at all, and finds the whole thing uncomfortable. This is contrasted with the final scene, where Adachi coincidentally retraces the same route Shimamura took with her old friend… only now with Adachi, and she’s laughing and having a ball. She GETS the difference. It pays off with the message Shimamura paid for, which is, for her, a grand gesture. And Adachi… well, she gets a hug? Which she will remember for a long time to come.

This series, if I’m being honest, still tries my patience most of the time. But there were moments in this book when I could actually feel Shimamura attempting to make an effort, and that almost made it worth it. I suspect we won’t get Vol. 4 till the anime finishes, so enjoy this now, right before it starts.

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