Author: Yuyuko Takemiya (Story) / Akira Kasukabe (Art)
Genre: Romance, Drama, Shounen
Publisher: Seven Seas (US) / ASCII Media Works (JP)
Release Date: November 17, 2015 / March 15, 2016
Original Magazine: Monthly Comic Dengeki Daioh
Things are looking up for Hotaka. Though the road’s been bumpy, Hotaka finds himself genuine friends with his long time crush and school swimming queen, Awaya Niki — and could they wind up being even more? There may not be time to find out; as feelings and family secrets come to light, everything the pair knows threatens to be torn apart.
As we enter the latter half of Evergreen, we see the standard rom-com mishaps and their consequences. Despite being the queen of the school, Niki suddenly finds herself insecure and jealous of Hotaka’s relationship with his classmate, On-chan. Meanwhile, On-chan continues to struggle with confused feelings for class playboy Soga. Unanswered texts and unreturned glances follow, but it isn’t long until things are on the up and up romantically for both couples.
And really, that could be it — the story could end there per norm — but there’s always been the lingering feeling that something is very, very amiss in Hotaka and Niki’s blooming relationship. Evergreen has walked a very fine line throughout its four volumes as it’s maintained a story-changing but somewhat obvious twist while keeping a mostly light-hearted tone. Quite frankly, I can’t decide exactly how I feel about how the series wraps up. Much of what happens was admittedly pretty telegraphed from the beginning, and the author handles it with a certain gentleness that makes me think it wasn’t just for shock value. Still, it’s a dangerous line to walk — especially for a rom-com that has been otherwise solid — and something that could make or break the series for some readers. The only significantly “heavy” part of the series does indeed come from that the ending though, otherwise it just feels like watching kids falling in love.
While my feelings on the art haven’t shifted much from the first set of volumes, it’s worth noting that Seven Seas has included pretty nice looking color inserts at the beginning of all four volumes. The backside of both the front and back covers also include some nice black and white art, and they’re a nice touch for what might otherwise be an overlooked series.
I genuinely enjoyed Evergreen, more than I expected to. Similar to Toradora! I think this dramatic rom-com would make for a great anime adaption, and it looks like author Yuyuko Takemiya is two for two in my book. The ending is a divisive for sure and I have to recommend the series with that caveat, but otherwise it’s short series worth checking out.