The Girl I Saved on the Train Turned Out to Be My Childhood Friend, Vol. 2

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.

This got off to a slow start but was definitely improving as it went along. Last time I said that this was what books like Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki deconstructed, and that was certainly true of the first book, but here we see the author starting to really look at the situation. Ryou is the standard oblivious, self-hating potato protagonist, but here we see how that’s actually hurting everyone around him – and hurting himself as well. Ryou has, by the end of the book, four love interests, three of whom seem to be along the lines of “did a decent thing in front of her”, which is also standard high school romance LN but reminds you how goddamn low the bar really is. And he’s actually a little more serious than most high school boys – he doesn’t feel comfortable returning anyone’s feelings until he understands how love feels himself. Unfortunately for the rest of the cast, this may take a while.

Our cast is in that most popular of years, the 2nd year of high school, and as such they have to deal with present-day concerns like the school festival while also trying to think about the future. Ryou can’t really imagine what he’ll be doing in the future beyond vague “college, I guess”. Hina, on the other hand, has a secret… and a dream. She really is far more mature and put together than Ryou, something that he dwells on constantly. That said, he might not be dwelling on it enough, given that Hina said she’d happily give everything up to spend her days married to him… and he didn’t react at all. (She was expecting him to at least push back on that.) Even a surprise first kiss cannot get past Ryou’s wall of self-loathing that he’s put between the two of them. Will a film project help, or just make things even more complicated?

I remain pleased with the relationship between Ryou and his sister Mana. She clearly loves her brother, supports him, and is STILL buying him condoms he won’t use, but there is not one speck of subtext between them, which is an increasing rarity in books these days. This is meant to be a realistic sibling relationship. The other strong part of this book was Hina. She’s been hiding her dreams of being an actress from the others, but it turns out that she has some serious chops. This leads to good and bad things with Ryou. Good in that filming something she can use as a quick promo video shows off his film editing skills, leading to a possible future direction. Bad in that he clearly puts her on a massive pedestal, and clearly the main reason he is not going out with her is for that reason. She tears into him for it, and her frustration is palpable.

That said, we get yet another saved childhood friend at the end of the book, and this risks becoming Osamake if it’s not careful. It can be difficult at times to deal with Ryou’s moping, but the book eventually rewards you.

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