With the last volume of Hikaru fully translated, I plan to marathon the entire series of books and give my opinions and reviews of them. My deep love for the Hikaru novels started with this first book, and once I finished reading the first one, I immediately started with the next one and the next. I started reading it in late 2014, reading volumes 1-3 on Baka-Tsuki, and read volumes 4-8 on Hellping while waiting until the day volumes 9 and 10 finally finishes. But enough about me, it’s time to start the first review of When Hikaru was on the Earth.
On a certain rainy day, the infamous Koremitsu Akagi attends the funeral of Hikaru Mikado, a man beloved by all women he has come into contact with. These two polar opposites meet each other in a very unlikely fashion, as Hikaru appears only to him as a ghost. Hikaru’s soul remains on this Earth in order to maintain a certain promise to someone special to him. And since Koremitsu is the only who can see him, he asks him to carry out his promise to his special someone.
Our story appears to be a very simple one, a man carries out a dead man’s promise, but it has messages and themes about overcoming misunderstandings underneath. Even while our story has finished in this volume, the overall plot contains small mystery elements such as the death of Hikaru and implications of further character development such Koremitsu’s mother. The volume doesn’t overload with plot points but it has enough to make the reader keep going to the next one. It keeps consistent on the main plot but infers to more details later to be discovered. Which, I think makes it the strongest volume out the entire series. A small note to point out, Hikaru is based of the Tale of Genji.
Mizuki Nomura had this problem in the first volume Bungaku Shoujo (Book Girl) which is quite disadvantageous for her, as she writes under the assumption that this would be a longer series. Therefore, having more fleshed out developments of our characters in later volumes. Her characters later on turn out fully fleshed out but it is quite necessary to captivate the audience with the first volume.
Each one of characters in the story are very expressively shown, mostly through typical archetype behavior: Koremitsu is the “delinquent”, Hikaru is the “Famed Prince”, Aoi is the “innocent one”, and Honoka is the tsundere. While the characters fit into certain archetypes, the way the characters and plot are structures fits thematically to the plot and is very character-driven. One of main character elements that is prevalent in the volume is the relationships between each individual as well as how they see each other. This driving point of this represents how people can have very big misunderstandings of each other and how that misunderstanding attacks specific character’s inner conflicts.
The artwork in the volume was made by Miho Takeoka. All of her character drawing are designed with a formal elegance to match the overall setting and with her distinct art style of a more petite and slender look, it fits quite nicely. The main motif used throughout the volumes are the different types of flowers and way they combined beautifully with the character profiles worked very nicely. It isn’t the cleanest in compared to the other illustrations for the other volumes but it still looks pretty beautiful.
When Hikaru was on the Earth is a great character-driven series, driving home the main themes of relationships and misunderstandings. “Aoi” is a phenomenal introduction to the series, dealing with the idea of rejection of love. I would strongly recommend reading this volume and this series in general.
Rating: Strongly Recommended
Author: Mizuki Nomura
Illustrator: Miho Takeoka
Fan Translator: Teh_ping