Hirano and Kagiura Vol. 1 Novel Review – They Were Roommates
Title: Hirano and Kagiura Vol. 1
Author: Shou Harusono, Kotoko Hachijo
Release Date: February 21, 2023
Publisher: Yen Press
Hirano and Kagiura is a light novel spin-off from Shou Harusono’s manga Sasaki and Miyano. Instead of focusing on the cute fudanshi and his senpai, we now see another duo of boys who share the same dorm room. As the manga hinted, they have a special relationship that might be tighter than expected.
Everything starts with Akira Kagiura moving to the dorm. Fresh out of middle school, the boy decides to live there out of convenience. Adapting to this new environment will take time as everything is a novel experience for the young man. One of the changes he’ll get used to is sharing his room with a senpai called Hirano.
Early on, we can already see how different these individuals are. Kagiura is a basketball player, and his mind is frequently on the game, meaning he usually sucks at school stuff unrelated to sports. Meanwhile, Hirano may look like a delinquent because of his blonde hair and piercings (those are especially frowned upon in Japan). However, he’s an honest student and an actual member of the Disciplinary Committee.
Despite their differences, they’re both fairly accommodating. Hirano has never been sociable, but he made an effort to make Kagiura feel welcome. Despite failing at some of his plans, Hirano’s gentleness still shines through, and Kagiura becomes entranced with this senpai, who seems much more mature than him.
On the other hand, Hirano can see Kagiura’s efforts and does his best to support the newbie in everything he can. As Kagiura fumbles at tests, Hirano decides to show a strict side and have him become better at studying. Throughout the book, Hirano’s act of caring for the young man sounded like a motherly figure at times. Meanwhile, Kagiura’s affection was like a dog trying to impress his owner.
It isn’t easy for either of them to grasp what their relationship could mean, but their behavior changes for each other. These small, nuanced events are a window into the feelings they don’t quite understand yet. They have a special place in the other’s heart, and it’s hard to think of them as “just roommates.”
Like the Sasaki and Miyano manga, the story in Hirano and Kagiura is a slice of life, sharing much of the same mannerisms of the original work. The budding relationship of the young boys evolves slowly but surely. However, the subdued nature of their feelings can be boring to some readers while feeling comfortable and wholesome to others.
Adapting this slice-of-life context to a novel rather than a manga enhances both the good and bad aspects of the story. Shou Harusono’s style of comfortable life story makes for easy empathy and charming characters who feel very close to real people. However, the whole volume is more about setting things up rather than giving closure to their feelings.
Kotoko Hachijo’s novelization of Harusono’s story fleshes out the setting in an enticing way giving both characters’ perspectives enough time to shine. Kevin Steinbach’s translation also does a great job of making it a natural read that flows clearly from start to finish. It shows special care to emphasize their awkwardness, and it’s easy to see how the dialogues feel adequate for people their age.
Hirano and Kagiura is an excellent slice-of-life novel about how two boys grow into more than roommates but not quite boyfriends yet. It’s an enjoyable read that’s comfortable and easy for anyone but can be extra special for those who already love Shou Harusono’s world.
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