Manga Review: Train*Train vol. 3

Train*Train vol. 3
Story and Art: Eiki Eiki
Published by the Doki Doki Imprint of Digital Manga, Inc.
ISBN13: 9781569700983
ISBN10: 1569700982
Review copy provided by the publisher

Review by I-hsiu Lin

Next stop is Minami-Kitazawa Station…please step away from the closing doors.

Fall has come to Minami-Kitazawa and Asahi Saruta has been there for some time working as a station staff along with his incredibly good looking senpais, dealing with crazy events that are all part of the schedule in that particular station (and some events that are not part of the schedule but are still crazy.) Their policy is ‘Service with a Smile’…and everything that it entails. But Asahi pops the question that might as well have echoed through everyone’s mind: “When did Minakita become the ‘Legendary Station Where Good-Looking Guys are Chose to work’…?

Actually, my question is…who are the guys on the cover?

Time for a flashback or two….

Volume 3 of Train Train reveals the back story of how the Minakita station changed from an ordinary train station to one with cute staff catering to hordes of fangirls. But as a back story, it doesn’t just reveal the legend, it also reveals more of the personalities of certain characters. As to the identity of those on the cover…it doesn’t take long to find out within a few pages of the story. (Or you can read the Japanese kanji on their nametags.) As fans and followers of this series, we have come to expect the out-of-the-norm antics that occur, but Eiki Eiki-sensei continues to surprise with plot devices that seem out of the blue. (But according to the ‘behind-the-scenes’ omake panels, they’re not so abnormal after all. I won’t mention what it is exactly since it will spoil such an entertaining storyline. We’ll just file it under things that happen ‘Only in Japan’. XD)

In the previous volume, we went into the back story of Hikari and Kaiji. Some of the flashbacks in this current volume reveals the relationship between Hokuto and Tsubasa. (Boys love fans relax, I’m not referring to that kind of relationship…but it’s not hard to imagine.) Tsubasa is usually very nonchalant about things around him and he really doesn’t take as much of an active role as the others. But circumstances have changed and he is taking center stage in the story. After being offered a movie role, his agent advises Tsubasa to devote his time fully to his acting career…which means leaving his job at Minakita. With that to consider and a the station event of ‘Station Master for a day’, we are thrown into a whirlwind of events that really wouldn’t make much sense…. But through it all, we learn more about the thoughts of the person hidden behind those clouded frames.

I mentioned about the season being Fall in the story…but Spring may have finally come for Asahi as his heart skips a beat over…a girl! She was caught in his eyes and memory for only a few moments, but he felt something there. A spark of love? As the old adage goes, the course of love never did run smooth, but our main character rises to the occasion…if only for only those few chapters.

Eiki Eiki pulls together another hilarious manga. It would be difficult indeed to NOT be able to make a story this entertaining with characters as diverse and unique as the Train Train cast. But it takes almost a type of artistry to place them in situations that almost seem real (and some cases are real…only in Japan XD) and with that believably to hook readers and have them accept this as a plausible story. Perhaps I speak too much as a fan, but apart from that, it is truly an entertaining read and even casual readers won’t get bored with something like this.

As it is repeatedly said, Train Train is not a BL manga though we have enough scenes in the story to keep fans of BL happy for the time being. (What doesn’t appear on the page can always appear in our imaginations. ^-^) Eiki Eiki-sensei understands that well enough being a BL mangaka…and being surrounded by her assistants who each have a pairing that they love. *points at omake* The omake also includes a behind-the-scenes look at the drama cd recording. (It occurred the same time as the Princess Princess drama cd recording, so Tsuda Mikiyo-sensei has the same omake in Princess Princess vol. 4.)

The story of Train Train is not over, although it seems that the hiatus will continue on for some time before Eiki Eiki-sensei decides to finish this story. Volume 3 came out in 2005…and being that it is already 2010 with no news of new chapters, we have quite a bit of wait. However, it shouldn’t deter anyone from picking up this series. As part of the slice-of-life genre, the episodic nature of the stories can be standalone chapters. With this volume, we conclude all the background stories of various characters. Now, we just have to wait and see if Asahi can overcome his obstacles and strive to be a train operator. Or submit to being a pet and fawned on by his senpais (with continued sexual harassment by Hokuto.)

We’re rooting for you, Asahi-kun! ^.^