The Girl I Saved on the Train Turned Out to Be My Childhood Friend, Vol. 1

By Kennoji and Fly. Released in Japan as “Chikan Saresou ni Natteiru S-kyuu Bishoujo wo Tasuketara Tonari no Seki no Osananajimi datta” by GA Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Sergio Avila.

I have not read the two other series that this author has out in English. Hazure Skill and Drugstore in Another World are both in genres that I’m gradually trying to read less of. But ‘syrupy sweet high school romance’ is still a relatively new genre in English-translated light novels. Honestly, the marketplace changes a lot these days, and yesterday’s down and outs are today’s up and comers. Remember 15 years ago when we all said sports manga was impossible to license? Even just five years ago I was saying that you couldn’t get a LN title licensed unless it had some sort of fantasy or supernatural plotline in it. But now here we are. That said, to be honest I picked this up because of the artist. Fly is best known here for Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki, and this is in the same basic genre. That said, the two books are doing different things. Tomozaki is a deconstruction. This book is what it deconstructs.

Ryou is a typical light novel romance protagonist: nondescript, doesn’t have many friends, school skipper, thinks of himself in terrible ways. One day on the train he sees a girl being groped by a salaryman, and decides to make a scene and get the guy caught. Later, in school, it turns out that he’s sitting next to said girl in class… and that it’s Hina, his childhood friend. They had been inseparable in grade school, but in middle school she got super gorgeous and popular, and he got more self-conscious and so they drifted apart. But while he may have mostly forgotten about her, she certainly hasn’t forgotten about him. As the book goes on, Ryou starts to notice that Hina is asking to walk home with him, and making him food, and asking him out on dates. Does this mean… she has feelings for him? Nah, let’s not overthink this.

As always with this genre, whether you can tolerate it or not depends how much you like ‘oblivious’ teenage boys. I’d say it was unrealistic except I was also a teenage boy, and no, it really is this bad. That said, at least the series gets a confession out of the way by the end of the first book, even if it leads to “I’m not sure how I feel about you”. Hina is cute, and the reader is meant to understand her frustration with Ryou and sympathize, and it works pretty well. I also loved Ryou’s younger sister Mana, who does not have a shred of the standard “younger sister of the protagonist” character to her and is quite happy wingmanning for her brother, though buying condoms for him turns out to be a mistake. (There’s no sex in this book, sorry to disappoint. Everyone’s very pure.) And the love rival role is handled pretty well, as she’s good at analyzing Ryou and Hina and knows that’s why she doesn’t really have a chance.

There’s nothing outstanding about this book, and it doesn’t have a good gimmick like Tomozaki. But it’s decently written, and there are no terrible people in it yet. If you like the genre of “pretty girl tries to get guy to admit that someone might actually like him and it’s her”, this is a good one to try.

Did you enjoy this article? Consider supporting us.

Speak Your Mind