Adachi and Shimamura, Vol. 8

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 three-year gap between the previous volume and this one, and you can sort of tell. There’s a bit of a priority shift in the way the story is being told. For one thing, while Adachi still gets the occasional POV scene, the book has finally admitted that it should be called “Shimamura and Adachi”. Shimamura gets 90% of the first-person narrative, and the entire book is about forcing her to confront how she feels about Adachi, what she wants to do in a relationship with Adachi, and what they mean to each other. The answer will not surprise you, because the book begins with a flash-forward to ten years later, when we see the two of them living together and planning a trip to San Francisco. Given the ‘alternate universes’ of the previous volume, I was expecting ‘it was all a dream’ or something similar, but no. That said, there is one sad part. Sorry, toy shippers, Yashiro and Shimamura’s little sister is not gonna happen. She’s perpetually ten.

The non-flash-forward part of the book is also about a trip – the school trip, which is going to Kitakyushu. Naturally, Adachi is a combination of nervous wreck and jealous child, but for once we don’t really dwell on her. Instead we focus almost entirely on Shimamura, who is dealing with several problems. She’s in a group with Adachi and the three girls she briefly made friends with at the start of the school year, and things are… awkward, mostly as her new relationship is not nearly as secret as she’d like. Yashiro has stowed away in her backpack like a Doraemon invention. And an evening at a hot spring means that she is suddenly very aware that Adachi not only loves her in a romantic way but loves her in a sexual way. Being Shimamura, she’s not sure what to do about any of this, but she does come away with one thing – she wants to be with Adachi for the foreseeable future.

As noted, this book came out after a three-year gap, and it shows in the writing (and not just because Yashiro throws in a Demon Slayer reference). For one thing, Shimamura is asked point blank if she’s a lesbian, something I don’t think would have happened in this series even a few years earlier. (As you might guess, she doesn’t give a straight answer, but it leans more towards “Adachisexual”.) In the same conversation (it’s the best part of the book, and it did not escape my attention that that may be because Adachi’s not in it) Shimamura is also called a “hot mess”, and I laughed because it’s true. But she’s actually trying to fix that in real ways, being more tactile with Adachi, suggesting things like holding hands or snuggling, and trying to tease her without having Adachi take it the wrong way. As for Yashiro… well, if you don’t like her, this is not the book for you. She’s in this more than any other book, and she even has some good philosophical advice for Shimamura. She’s part of the writer’s world.

The flash-forward does show that Adachi is no longer a ball of vibrating gay whenever she’s around her girlfriend, which is good, though I hope I don’t have to wait ten years for that to kick in. In the meantime, Shimamura has gone from a creature who tries to emulate human emotions but can’t work up the energy to a real live human being. I can’t make fun of her anymore.

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