After a small fight between Koremitsu and Honoka, Koremitsu storms off into the courtyard. Suddenly, Hikaru comments on the large amount of falling flowers. Koremitsu turns around to notice the flower petals scattered around the racks and trees. A strong gust of wind blows and Koremitsu protects his eyes, dying his vision with red. It wasn’t the petals but rather the hair of a individual.
A figure comes from behind a pillar, with flowing hair as red as the flower petals behind her. With an appearance befitting the queen of all Hikaru’s flowers, the mesmerizing student faces towards Koremitsu and asks him:
“Are you Koremitsu Akagi?”
Welcome to Volume 4 of When Hikaru was on the Earth.
Introducing Tsuyako Udate, and to quote Hikaru, “The grandest, elegant of them all in the garden, the red weeping cherry blossom.” I’m starting this off with Hikaru’s quote, because with the many depictions of her in the volume and with Takeoka’s illustrations, she so deserves it.
Upperclassman Tsuyako invites Koremitsu to the Japanese Dance Club. And at first, Tsuyako appears to be joking around with Koremitsu, however it is quickly established that she has some sort of trouble. Expressing her concern, she asks to Koremitsu to help her. Being the upstanding gentleman Koremitsu is, he agrees. It is at that point that Tsuyako hands him a club entry form to sign.
Most of the interactions with Tsuyako revolve around this type of progression; the appearance of friendly conversation with a underlying tone of concern and conflict. As the story goes on, her actions lead us to question the person named Tsuyako and we get to uncover the mystery of her character. She might be as beautiful as a cherry blossom but she holds a darker secret within. (Related reference has no actual relevance to story.)
It is at this point where previous key elements start to come into play. I mentioned back in the reviews for the previous volumes about the theme of image in Hikaru. The nobility of the houses comes back again, showing how deep the entire problem can go. These plot elements comes back again, but in direct opposition to Tsuyako. All this suffering makes up the person known as Tsuyako and she becomes one of the strongest characters in the entire series.
As for our side characters, Aoi takes the spotlight in this volume. While she shows no sign of improvement from a character development standpoint, what she reveals to the audience is quite important. She plays the “translator” for us, giving us information about the family nobility and relations. Everyone in the series is tied to each other in some way shape or form and it is necessary to understand what is essentially the structure for the series.
Beauty is a heavy factor in this volume and Mizuki Nomura and Miho Takeoka does a fantastic job representing this. Nomura fills the light novel with plenty of vivid imagery and descriptions that sets the scene and its physical characteristics. It is not just appearances but she also takes into consideration the behaviors of the characters as well. Something noteworthy to mention is the uses of one-lined sentences. These sentences are linked with each other, but they are separated as if they were firm statements, being very effective. The illustrations themselves are very impressive, using nicely blended shades of red and purple to cover our characters.
I mentioned that Takeoka was very good at expressing sorrow and sadness. In this specific case, she uses the contrasting colors of black and gray to relay the atmosphere in the picture and well as depict the character within.
This volume pretty much encapsulates the content I love from Mizuki Nomura. “Oborodukiyo” does a fantastic job unraveling the mystery of Tsuyako and relaying its continuous messages about love, image, protection. And in this volume, the conviction of self.
Rating: Strongly Recommended
Author: Mizuki Nomura
Illustrator: Miho Takeoka
Fan Translator: Teh_ping