Composition: Haco Matsuura
Art: Yoh Midorikawa
Character design: Fly
Translation/Adaptation: Sergio Avila
Lettering: Elena Pizarro
What They Say
When Ryou Takamori confronts a groper on the train, it turns out he’s come to the rescue of his estranged childhood friend, Hina Fushimi. The two drifted apart in middle school as the social gap between ever-popular beauty Hina and plain loner Ryou widened—but this incident might be the catalyst Hina’s been waiting for to rekindle their friendship. And she’s got her fingers crossed that it’ll spark something more…if only Ryou would get a clue!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Teenager Ryou Takamori gets on a train one morning to go to school. This is not an unusual thing for him; he does this every day, and this is usually an eventless affair. On this occasion though he looks over and sees a pervert attempting to grope a teenage girl’s panties. Despite not being a particularly brave person, he summons the courage to stand up to the pervert and even chases him when the perpetrator runs off the train, not giving up the chase until the man is in police custody.
When he arrives at school (late because of this ordeal) he finds out the person he saved from being groped was Hina Fushimi, a childhood friend from many years ago. The two stopped talking at one point in time and have been distant for years (despite always sitting next to each other at school). Part of the reason may be because Hina ended up being the most popular girl in school while Ryou has gained a reputation for being a loner. With this latest incident Hina starts to hang out with Ryou and reminding him of a promise the two made when they were very young.
“The Girl I Saved on the Train Turned Out to Be My Childhood Friend” is a story I’ve read before. Several years ago, there were three manga adaptations of a message board story called “Train Man,” in which a man described saving a girl on a train and then eventually starting a relationship with her. The adaptations were from the now defunct CMX, Del Rey (now known as Kodansha), and Viz Media. To my knowledge all three of these are out-of-print (from my memory the CMX release was the best version of the story). Years ago, when I was writing for another manga site I gave all three of these stories high reviews and commended them for their wonderful storytelling and relatable characters.
Unlike “Train Man,” the story of “The Girl I Saved on the Train Turned Out to Be My Childhood Friend” is NOT based on a true story, and thus feels much more contrived and artificial as a result! It’s a story I doubt many readers will relate to on a personal level. It’s not that what is happening is bad per se, only that it’s not very interesting so far. Ryou is much too good looking to ever not be popular at school, and we sense many of his loneliness issues are ones that are self-inflicted. It’s easy to understand why Hina is the most popular girl in school, what is not clear is why she spent years essentially avoiding Ryou.
Hints are dropped that her sudden interest in him has more to do with the past promise than the fact that he saved her on the train, yet why she essentially ghosted him for two to three years is a question that has yet to be answered. There is also a lot of frustration with the fact that these two are clearly supposed to become a couple down the line, yet the story is finding the most arbitrary ways to keep them apart. Hina has more confidence in her love for Ryou and is the main one doing the pursuing, yet she pulls back because…I don’t know, she wants him to make a move on her first?
Honestly, it’s hard to tell why she plays the games she does when a simple confession would clear things up and she has no fear of him saying no. The story is also introducing other women into the mix to hit on Ryou and become obstacles to him getting together with Hina. The first problem is that none of these girls are interesting or possess any qualities that would make us believe he would choose any of them over the quiet, innocent Hina. A bigger problem comes in the fact that despite this, all these girls are STILL more interesting than Hina, giving the reader no reason to root for any of them!
“The Girl I Saved on the Train Turned Out to Be My Childhood Friend” is one of those manga that set up two perfect protagonists that are meant to fall in love, yet rather than give them real conflict to work through, the story throws every cliché in the book at them to keep them apart long enough to get you to buy eight books. I’m not ruling out the series improving at some point; the premise is strong, and I wasn’t exactly bored. I wasn’t exactly engaged either. Considering the simplistic art and the straightforward narrative, I feel like Peter Griffin: I want to throw the book across the hall and yell “this book has no conflict.”
Content Grade: C-
Art Grade: C
Packaging Grade: B+
Text/Translation Grade: A
Age Rating: Teen
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: July 5, 2022
This review was done with a review copy provided by the publisher. We are grateful for their continued support.