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Hirayasumi Volume 1 Review


Publisher Summary


After developing an unlikely friendship with the grouchy old woman who lives in his neighborhood, Hiroto suddenly finds himself inheriting not just her house but some rather difficult emotions as well. His 18-year-old cousin, Natsumi, moves in with him, but as a struggling art student, she has her own troubles to deal with and may just put Hiroto’s easygoing lifestyle to the test.


Author: Keigo Shinzo

Translation: Jan Mitsuko Cash

Touch-Up & Lettering: Elena Diaz


I received as an Hirayasumi Volume 1 Advanced Review Copy from Viz Media in exchange for an honest review.


 

Background


Keigo Shinzo debuted as a manga creator in 2008 with his work "Nankin" and has since gone on to create award-winning hits such as Bokura no Funkasai [Our Eruption Festival). In 2016, his work Moriyamachuu Kyoushujo (Moriyamachu Driving School) was made into a movie, and two years later, his series Tokyo Alien Bros. was adapted into a live-action drama. During the coronavirus pandemic, when Keigo was diagnosed with lymphoma, he decided to write the one-shot "Akusei Rinpashu de Nyuuin shita Toki no Koto" (About the Time I Was Hospitalized for Malignant Lymphomal, in which he chronicles his road to recovery as well as how he got the idea for his award-nominated series Hirayasumi.


Hirayasumi was serialized in Big Comic Spirits on April 26th, 2021 before entering a hiatus in October 2023. The manga returned in January 6th, 2024 and currently has seven volumes in-print inside Japan

The Manga went on to be nominated for the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize in 2023 and for the 17th Manga Taisho Award in 2024.


Viz Media announced on October 13th, 2023 that has licensed the series for an English Print & Digital Release May 21st, 2024


 

Review



Meet Hiroto Ikuta, a carefree 29-year-old adult who moved to Tokyo to become an aspiring actor. However, his career didn't last long after fumbling scenes involving a female actress. Hiroto now holds a part-time job at a fishing spot. After work, he has a routine of visiting a retired 83-year-old named Hanae Wada. Hanae is someone who is very bitter and annoyed with the world around her. However, she finds peace whenever Hiroto visits her. The two happened to meet by coincidence, and though their personalities are opposites, Hanae and Hiroto are able to find comfort in each other's company. The story takes a sudden turn as it reveals Hanae suffers a heart attack and passes away. In her will, Hanae passed her house onto Hiroto for his personal use.



Three months have passed since Hanae's death, and we're introduced to Hiroto's 18-year-old freshman art student cousin, Natsumi Kobayashi. Compared to Hiroto and Hanae, Natsumi is very reserved but isn't afraid to speak her mind. As the two settle into the new home, they banter a bit before Hiroto eventually bursts into tears, overwhelmed with emotion. Then the next day, it's Natsumi's first day of school, and the two take a communal photo to begin their new cohabitation, in which both Hiroto and Natsumi are going to experience "change" through their own means.


Throughout the volume, the story flips between two different perspectives. Hiroto's, while carefree, attempts to navigate through the realities of a being a single adult. On the other side, there's Natsumi's, in which she wants to fit into her student body and navigate through struggles in her freshman year of college. Each chapter flips between the two as they go through a scenario, but there's also times where the two come together to converse and talk about what happened during their day. This allows the story to set up the contrast in perspective between Hiroto and Natsumi, which works really well here. The story did a good job establishing these experiences as "grounded" and "lived in," but they're also so different that it makes you want to root for both Hiroto and Natsumi's success in their endeavors.




For example, when the perspective shifts to Natsumi, we see her having a hard time making college friends. We find out that because of a magic trick gone wrong at orientation, she has become self-conscious about how others perceive her. When she tells Hitori that she is frustrated with the whole thing, Hitori attempts to cheer her up before heading out to see his best friend, which inspired Natsumi to try again at socializing by attending an upcoming freshman mixer. At the freshman mixer, she got drunk and was on her way home. At one point, she stops to puke, but the people who encouraged her to drink abandon her at the train station. Another college student noticed this and approached her with a water bottle, and at that moment, Natsumi made her first friend.



Switching over to Hitori's perspective: After he hears about Natsumi's problems, he heads out to meet up with a high school friend named Hideki Noguchi. Compared to Hitori, he's what Hitori describes as a "successful" adult in that he's been married for a year, has a stable job at a furniture company, and is a kid on the way. The two banter back and forth about life until Hideki announces that this might be their last hangout. He says that life is starting to take up more of his time. Hitori's is disappointed in the news; however, he accepts reality and instead has a positive outlook on the situation, hoping that his baby is healthy.



The manga's pacing allows both Hitori's and Natsumi's story arcs to stand on equal footing without one overpowering the other. In addition, the simplistic but expressive art style also helps isolate the emotions our main characters are going through in each scene. All of these aspects combined led to a very solid read as I flipped through each perspective and wanted to see more of our characters.


The only nitpick I can see is that the story focuses on just Hitori and Natsumi. If you're not interested in either, you're not going to connect with this story. The story takes its time "growing" its characters for a long period of time..


Outside of that, I really liked what I read and wanted to see more

 

Final Thoughts


I enjoyed getting to learn more about Natsumi and Hiroto in this slice of life story. The struggles and emotions both characters experience feel grounded and relatable. It got me invested in wanting to see how both are they're going to navigate through life. The pacing and art style compliment the story that Keigo wants to tell. This is definitely a must read if you're looking for a grounded slice of life story that's gonna invoke emotion inside you.


Verdict: Buy it


Hirayasumi Volume 1 from Viz Media is now available at all Retailers

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