Adachi and Shimamura, Vol. 11

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

It may not feel like one, but the Adachi and Shimamura series comes out as a Dengeki Bunko title. One of the heavy hitters of the light novel world, skilled at many things, including, of course, cross-promotion with other series. And if you add to that Hitoma Iruma, who loves throwing in “if you get this, great, if you don’t, it doesn’t matter” references to their other series, you can sometimes get a crossover cameo pileup. And since we’re also dealing with a series that has not been (and probably is unlikely to be) licensed over here, I will let you know (and thanks to translator Molly Lee for confirming) that the kimono girl and the senpai who take up about half the narrative in this book are from the 3-volume light novel series “Watashi no Hatsukoi Aite ga Kiss Shiteta”, also a Dengeki Bunko title. Oh, and another Yashiro shows up. Not our Yashiro, and not the Ground Control to Psychoelectric Girl Yashiro, but the third one that we met earlier in this series. I need diagrams.

This is one of those volumes that really should be called Shimamura and Adachi – all the POV for the “main story” is hers this time around. It’s more a series of short stories than a novel (not the first time we’ve seen this), as we get to see Shimamura at 8 years old (hyperactive, full of life, hanging at the pool with her bestie Taru-chan), Shimamura at 15 years old (sullen, teenage drama, getting close to the Shimamura we meet at the start of the series), Shimamura at 18 years old (the present-day Shimamura, having a study date with Adachi that turns into a discussion about whether the attraction between the two of them is sexual or just romantic), and Shimamura at 22 years old (going on a vacation with Adachi, full of life and love, comfortable with herself and her girlfriend). There’s also brief chapters with Yashiro and Shimamura’s mother, Hino and Nagafuji, and Shimamura’s sister meeting another Yashiro.

Given that most of my experience with this series has been dragging Shimamura constantly in these reviews, it’s really amazing to see how far she’s come. The Shimamura at 18 and 22 is a Shimamura who has finally found the thing that she needed to shake her out of her torpor: being in love with Adachi. She’s still trying to figure out what this love is. Her discussion with Adachi about sex is, for this series, very frank (for any other series, not so much), and while it’s funny to see Adachi completely lose it multiple times over the course of a single minute, I also appreciated the conclusion they came to: Adachi wants to do sexual things but refuses to unless Shimamura does as well, and Shimamura has never thought about this at ALL, so is not ready. And that’s fine. Instead, we get the power of Adachi as a transformative force, transforming Shimamura into someone with real human emotions, joy, and energy. Go back to, say, the fifth book and read Shimamura, then re-read this one. Night and day.

12 is still the final volume, but before that Dengeki Bunko is releasing a short story volume (how is that different from most of the last few?), and “Vol. 99.9”, which is a collection of the bonus stories that came with the Blu-Ray release of the anime. That said, both of those will be a few more months till they get here, I imagine. Till then, enjoy Shimamura’s happiness, and Adachi’s Adachiness.

Adachi and Shimamura, Vol. 10

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

Finally, after two volumes with illustrations ranging from minimal to none, we have a new artist. I had speculated last time that Non, the old artist, had left the title as they were ill, but I’ve since found out that it’s more “they are shifting their career goals”, i.e. they’re only drawing BL now. Which is fine. Replacing them is raemz, who is best known over here for the gorgeous illustrations for Chitose Is in the Ramune Bottle. So things are back to normal with this series… for the most part. This volume, following up on the 8th book, spends far more time in the future with Adachi and Shimamura moving in with each other after graduating and getting jobs. Iruma has never really been all that fond of linear storytelling, so I’m not too surprised, but it does also remind you that the series is winding down. Indeed, the author states in the afterword that the 8th book was the “final” one, and the four to follow are afterwords. And Dengeki confirmed 12 will be the last.

As noted, the book is divided into ‘present’ and ‘future’ sections, with the former narrated by Shimamura and the latter mostly by Adachi. In the present, now that Adachi and Shimamura are dating, and given that the author is not really going to do anything with Hino and Nagafuji here after they got a major spotlight last time, there’s really only one plot thread to wrap up. Or rather, to cut. Tarumi is still around, still has a major unstated crush on Shimamura, and still wants to hang out with her. And credit to Shimamura, here we see what all this interaction with Adachi and Yashiro has wrought, as she decides to deal with the issue head on telling Tarumi that she’s dating Adachi now. The scene is meant to be heartbreaking, but sadly, most of Shimamura’s narration still puts a layer of gauze over everything, so I think it’s merely bittersweet.

There’s quite a bit of Yashiro in this book, as she spends most of it dressed up in onesies of various kinds of animals. I’ve joked before about how I’m the only fan of the series who likes Yashiro, but I do think that her role in the story is very important. First of all, she deserves just as much credit as Adachi for getting Shimamura out of her passive daze and forcing her to take a good long look at herself. Adachi does this directly by being a vibrating ball of gay, but Yashiro always does it indirectly, so it’s harder to spot. She also gives Adachi and Shimamura a gravitas that they would not otherwise have. The idea from prior books that there are many alternate universes, and that all of them have Adachi finding Shimamura in them, is a nice one that distracts you from the fact that these books can be very, very dull if you let them. Future Shimamura also seems to realize that even after they’ve moved to a different city, Yashiro is gonna show up anyway. She’s the spice.

Adachi and Shimamura 11 just came out in Japan last month, so it will no doubt be a while before we see it here. Till then, enjoy the present, as Shimamura cuts ties with an old friend, and the future, as Adachi and Shimamura move in together and share a bed but are quite asexual about it all.

Adachi and Shimamura, Vol. 9

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

The self-improvement of Shimamura continues in this volume, following up from the last one. We see Shimamura reflecting on her past self and her tendency to deliberately forget about everyone around her, o the point where it’s an active choice. But now she has Adachi in her life and as her girlfriend. The trouble is, as Adachi points out to her here, she’s very hard to read. Shimamura tends to have one mode, which is “whatever”, and when you are a stressed and insecure young lesbian like Adachi, that just makes you think that the relationship is entirely one-sided. And credit to Shimamura, she really tries hard here, even using the word love to show Adachi how serious she is. Admittedly their relationship has not really progressed beyond holding hands, but given the two participants and their emotional ages that’s not only unsurprising but likely a good thing. I hope future books will show us Adachi’s self-improvement as well. As for Yashiro… she is perpetually the same.

After Shimamura tells a curious Yashiro about her junior high years of rebellion (which consisted of skipping class and not much else), we get the meat of the first half of the book, which is telling us a bit about Hino and Nagafuji’s childhood. This comes up because Hino’s father, who is not the best at communicating, tells her she isn’t important to the family legacy. Hino, who is thirteen in this flashback, does not really take this well (though, as is fairly typical with this author’s works, a lot of the emotional turmoil is left for the reader to fill in themselves) and decides to run away from home. After getting permission. And also taking her maid. And Nagafuji. The second half of the book is Christmas, and shows us an adorable date between our lead couple, Adachi breaking out the Chinese-style dress again, and Christmas dinner at the Shimamuras with a surprise guest, which may carry over into the next book.

This is the final volume with illustrations by Non, who I believe had been ill, and the illustrations are mostly ones used from other promotional materials – there are no interior ones. Which is a shame, but also allows us to see the pasts of most of the main cast without having to see them attempted as “3 years younger”. The Hino and Nagafuji stuff was good, though Hino’s narration works far better (and is far longer) than Nagafuji’s. It’s also implied that her parents have a marriage of convenience and that her mother and head maid are childhood friends with benefits. It’s heavily implied this is what Hino could have with Nagafuji too, though the idea of Nagafuji as a maid is horrifying. The other interesting part of the book is the relationship between the two moms. Mrs. Adachi reads very much like her daughter only cynical and bitter, and Shimamura likewise has her daughter’s “well, whatever” mood only extroverted to the nth degree. It’s kind of fun.

This wasn’t terrific, but is at least solid, even if it read a bit like a short story collection at times. The best parts were Shimamura’s forwardness. We’ll see if she can keep that up.