With the romantic comedy genre on the rise, perhaps it’s no surprise that one of Yen Press’ new debuts for the end of the year slots perfectly into the market. Today I’m here to take a look at Volume 1 of The Girl I Saved on the Train Turned Out to Be My Childhood Friend to find out if it’s a must-have release.
The story follows second-year high school student Ryo Takamori who one day saves a girl from a sexual harasser on the crowded train to school. Ryo thinks nothing of it beyond being happy to have protected someone from harm, but later that day he realises that the girl is in his class and even sits next to him! On top of that, she also turns out to be his childhood friend Hina Fushimi, whom he hasn’t spoken to since middle school.
Thanks to being saved by Ryo, Hina now finds herself eager to reconnect and throughout the first few chapters, we realise two things: 1) Hina has been in love with Ryo since they were little and 2) they only stopped talking because of a misunderstanding. Back in middle school, Ryo was being teased by some friends, asking what qualities he looks for in a potential girlfriend. Easily embarrassed, Ryo went for the exact opposite of Hina which she overheard and was hurt by.
The two quickly drifted apart and in high school, they’ve remained separated as Hina became one of the most popular girls, while Ryo faded into the background with no real friends to speak of. Now that they’ve been reunited, thanks to the train incident, everything is almost like it never changed. The two joke around, go home together and text back and forth when they’re not together.
Ryo is confused by all the attention he’s suddenly getting from Hina and wonders if she has feelings for him, before quickly dismissing those thoughts. For Hina’s part, she is still very much in love with Ryo and working up the courage to tell him so, or at least hoping he will make a move of his own.
The majority of Volume 1 is a sweet slice of life as we watch these two spend time with each other. The Girl I Saved started life as a web novel and that shows in the short chapters that range from 5 to 10 pages in length, which is just enough for a snappy interaction and a scene change here and there. The short nature works in the series’ favour since it means we’re never getting bogged down by anything too emotional and even when it is heavier, the opportunity to swap character perspectives or simply take a breath is appreciated.
I also like that although Ryo is dense and doesn’t understand Hina’s feelings, this isn’t dragged out for book after book as there is some progress on the romance front by the end of this volume. Between that and a new character coming into it next time, there is just enough to keep me invested. However, I admit that, had no progress been made, I was about ready to leave the series since there’s no particularly compelling reason to stick with it. It’s fun but not all that original.
The author behind the series is Kennoji who readers may recognise for being behind Hazure Skill: The Guild Member with a Worthless Skill is Actually a Legendary Assassin and Drugstore in Another World: The Slow Life of a Cheat Pharmacist. I’m personally not a huge fan of either series, but The Girl I Saved is quite different when it comes to the personalities of the cast and how they’re written. So, even if you might not be a fan of the other works, that doesn’t mean this one is an immediate write-off. Of course, if dense protagonists get on your nerves, then that’s a completely separate matter…
One aspect that might catch your eye is that the series is illustrated by Fly, who also illustrates Bottom-tier Character Tomozaki and handles the artwork for Chasing After Aoi Koshiba. As you would expect from this artist, all the images are very cute and capture snapshots of the cast’s daily lives well. The character designs are quite similar to those in Fly’s other work, but I think they’re just different enough to prevent appearing as lookalikes which I always appreciate when it comes to an artist handling multiple works in the same genre.
As previously mentioned, The Girl I Saved on the Train Turned Out to Be My Childhood Friend Volume 1 comes to the West thanks to Yen Press and has been translated by Sergio Avila. The translation reads well although it could have done with another proofreading since there are a couple of typos throughout: not enough to hinder the reading experience, but certainly still noticeable. The series is ongoing in Japan at five volumes and Yen Press currently have Volume 2 scheduled for a release in April 2022.
Overall, The Girl I Saved on the Train Turned Out to Be My Childhood Friend is a fine read that narrowly avoided being shelved for the long term. If you’re sick of dense main characters with no idea of their crushes’ feelings, then give this one a miss, but otherwise, it’s a relatively sweet story.