REVIEW: ‘Adachi and Shimamura,’ Volume 1 (manga)

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'Adachi and Shimamura Volume 1

Adachi and Shimamura is a charming slice-of-life, slow-burn romance from mangaka Moke Yuzuhara and published by Yen Press in the first North American manga serialization of Hitoma Iruma’s beloved light novel series. Adachi and Shimamura Volume 1 contains chapters 1 through 5, introducing our titular heroines as they bumble and blush their way towards each other while navigating high school life.  

With her waist-length dirty blond hair, pierced ears, and steady, unblinking gaze, Shimamura attracts attention—although she doesn’t always know what to do with it. A self-professed loner, Shimamura is an excellent caregiver with no problems making friends, but it’s a public persona that veils an internal fear that she’ll never be fully understood by another. Rather than open her heart, she’d rather keep her distance, protecting herself from the messy realities of relationships. 

Enter Adachi, a dark-haired “delinquent” in Shimamura’s grade. Adachi has a reputation for skipping class, and her moody shyness doesn’t endear her to her classmates. But when the two girls meet on the second-floor gym between classes one day and spark a friendship, something deeper is ignited within Adachi. She’s sure that all she wants from Shimamura is friendship. But the kind of friendship she desires teeters of the edge of wanting to be something more. Adachi wants to be needed; to be chosen, intentionally, by Shimamura. 

Volume 1 introduces us to the coming-of-age struggles these characters face internally as they decide to graduate their friendship from occasional encounters in the school gym to something more consistent. As the girls go to class, hit the mall, and hang after school, they start to get to know each other more deeply—and consider how compatible they might really be.

Poor Adachi, cursed with the full knowledge that her feelings for Shimamura are more than platonic, struggles to find the right words to communicate with her crush. Meanwhile, Shimamura seems clueless.

But how much of her obliviousness is an act she puts on to avoid examining her own interest in Adachi? And will Adachi figure out how to express her feelings, or will her childish tendency to hide from uncomfortable situations and flee from the first sign of conflict just end up pushing the already slow-to-trust Shimamura away? 

Adachi and Shimamura, on its surface, is sweet and lighthearted fare, with its classic school and home life setting and relatable, down-to-earth characters. But tucked among its pages are strikingly authentic depictions of the intensity of budding friendships, and the dizzying force of young love’s first bloom. 

It’s in the quiet, fleeting moments between Adachi and Shimamura that Moke Yuzuhara’s deftness as mangaka really shines. A stolen glance, burning with intention. Adachi’s flustered, nervous energy brushing up against Shimamura’s bemusement and cautious curiosity. A freshly-bitten French cruller offered with a tentative hand, its soft center splitting, pushing forth a pillow of sweet white cream… 

While no more than a couple of days are covered in the first few chapters of Adachi and Shimamura, Volume 1 manages to pack its pages with enough will-they-won’t-they moments to sustain readers with plenty of fodder to re-read, re-interpret, and obsess over until the next volume hits North American shelves.

Adachi and Shimamura Volume 1 is available now, wherever books are sold.

Adachi and Shimamura Volume 1 (manga)
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TL;DR

While no more than a couple of days are covered in the first few chapters of Adachi and Shimamura, Volume 1 manages to pack its pages with enough will-they-won’t-they moments to sustain readers with plenty of fodder to re-read, re-interpret, and obsess over until the next volume hits North American shelves.