After ignoring all of his calls, Koremitsu heads to the Saotome residence, out of concern for Aoi. There he sees Asai Saiga scolding Aoi for avoiding contact with her. Koremitsu approaches Asai, only to get quickly insulted. Koremitsu and Hikaru both notice her weak condition and offers to help. However she denies Koremitsu, shoving him away. Tumbling weakly back and forth, Asai hears a vibration and checks the caller on her phone. Koremitsu overhears Asai mumbling to herself about the “Asagao Princess” before disappearing from Koremitsu’s sight.
Hearing those words, Hikaru suddenly kneels down to Koremitsu and begs him:
“Please fulfill my initial promise with Asa in my place no matter what.”
Welcome to Volume 6 of When Hikaru was on the Earth.
Asai Saiga is coldhearted, intelligent, proud and determined. She is the student body president, Aoi’s friend and Hikaru’s cousin. Ever since volume one, we gotten to know her cold temperament towards Koremitsu, yet at the same time we got to see small bits of her true intentions. In “Asagao”, Asai’s character is the main focus for this story.
There are many themes in this volume; both previous and new concepts. However if I had to pick out one word to describe the collaboration of the themes present, it would be salvation. In various points of the volume, salvation has a different alteration when it comes to each character; protection for the innocence, saving someone from harm, being a protector for someone, etc. And it’s because of that motive, that these individuals move and act based on what they think is right.
Like in Suetsumuhana, the story goes from two differing perspectives; Koremitsu and Asai. What’s different about Asai’s perspective, is that she offers new information and perspective to the audience. She been acting as the opposing force to Koremitsu this entire time, however we also know that she’s not a bad person. The story now has an established villain, so the role Asai has now aligns with Koremitsu. Additionally, she knows Hikaru and the type of person he was before he died. Back in Oborodukiyo, Tsuyako compared her relation to Hikaru as being the same with her, and this is mostly correct. The two heroines have the closest ties to Hikaru, and in return, they are the most affected by him. This deep history between Hikaru and Asai justifies what her motives are and how she became the way she is. As the story goes on, it becomes even more tolling for Asai as her defenses are slowly being whittled down to her emotional side and this is reflected through her actions and thoughts.
If Oborodukiyo wins the award for best visual illustrations, Asagao wins in the facial expressions department. Most of the illustrations in this volume are profiles of our characters and the way Miho Takeoka handles the emotions is very wonderful. Asai doesn’t have many physical characteristics that define more easily than the others but the pictures we do have of her, represent her personality fantastically.
Asai’s character is hidden under multiple layers of ice and after chipping at it for six volumes, we finally get to see all of her inner struggles. Asagao is a phenomenal volume, reaching across themes such as guardianship and moving forward.
Rating: Strongly Recommended
Author: Mizuki Nomura
Illustrator: Miho Takeoka
Fan Translator: Teh_ping