Crossing Time Volume 1 Manga Review
Synopsis: This is a collection of slice-of-life omnibus shorts about various girls and what happens to them at railroad crossings. Various dramatic pieces that occur while you hear “Clank, clank, clank” in the background. The bittersweet conversations that high school girls have, strange tales of the occult discussed by grade schoolers, or a boy being head over heels over a sexy girl… A series that’s all railroad crossings all the time that’ll be filled with situations that railroad crossing fans can’t resist. (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
Review (Warning: Spoilers to Follow):
For those unfamiliar, Crossing Time is a slice of life series where each chapter features a different girl having some kind of encounter or experience while waiting at a railroad crossing for the train to pass. Sometimes it’s as momentous as having your best friend confessing her feelings for you. Other times it’s more mundane, like trying to come up with a poem to express your feelings and share your genius with the world. Sometimes we return to previous entries, following up on specific stories, making Crossing Time feel more cohesive than your run of the mill anthology. This first volume also contains tidbits about several, popular, real life Japanese railroad crossing spots, as well as famous fictional crossing spots (like from the manga Slam Dunk) that have been used as the basis for the setting for several of these stories. These little info dumps which make for some fun reading and add to the charm of the manga for those who picked the series up after watching the anime. If you’re familiar with the anime and just clicked on the article to find out which chapters to avoid or which story lines appear in the first volume, scroll all the way down to the last paragraph. Otherwise, let’s dive in.
The slice of life tone is strong, meaning that while you get all sorts of content ranging from the dramatic to comedic, none of them are all that consequential or grand. It’s all pretty down to earth stuff. Stuff you may find all the more amusing out of sheer relatability, such as the story about a Teacher and his awkward attempt to greet their students outside of the school while said student is desperately trying to ignore the teacher out of the awkwardness and discomfort most of us feel when bumping into a teacher out in the ‘real world’.
Even when the story gets a bit perverted, like in the case of a young high school boy, Tanishi lusting after his attractive classmate, Majima it remains thankfully chaste. While Tanishi is pretty clear in his internal monologue about how erotic he finds Majima and how he wishes for a glimpse under her skirt, he never lays a finger on her. Even when he gets a peek of it in another chapter, the audience is never shown the exact view, keeping the story modest enough for Tanishi’s perverted adolescent intentions to feel playful, rather than raunchy. It also helps that it plays out as a complete accident and he apologizes to her immediately. There is however a potentially touchy line of thought that he has regarding Majima’s friendly nature with all the boys in their class but other than that, nothing untoward ever occurs in these pages.
There’s another story that skirts a line however. This one is focused on a wannabe director high school boy who has very strong artistic opinions about how all girls feel. It’s gender stereotyping and only defused by his muse/female classmate correcting him. However, their interaction plays out more as ‘playful comedy’ rather than a serious discussion so it may leave some readers frustrated if they were hoping for a more hard line progressive message. To be fair, to expect that would be foolish, as Crossing Time rarely paints itself as anything but an easy, laid back read with a playful vibe running throughout each chapter. Even when the series fails at its own goal, the worst of it is far more likely to bore than offend.
With that said, Volume 1 contains one story in particular that breaks from Crossing Time’s otherwise universally grounded, realistic nature. This peculiar tale, spread across two chapters, dives head first into the supernatural. While the first chapter leaves things ambiguous enough to be passed off as just a girl’s phobias getting the best of her imagination, the second time half makes it clear that it’s not just her imagination anymore. As someone who enjoys slightly paranormal tales, this was an unexpected yet enjoyable addition. It is however a significant break from what Crossing Time initially offered making it a chancy addition depending on how you feel about an abrupt turn towards the supernatural.
Overall, Crossing Time is a quick read; perfect best for those moments when you want to unwind and distract yourself from a hard day with some light reading material and stories that never get too intense or heavy. As is the case with most anthologies, the quality can vary significantly, but if you are innately drawn to cute tales of anime/manga girls, you’re highly likely to find a story or two that tickles your fancy given the variety of content. As things go, I’d say that Volume 1 is a rather average read, with a few scattered gems. To wrap it up, Crossing Time has enough appeal and writing chops to woo most of its intended readership; aka slice of life fans but I would say not enough to win over anyone who has no particular interest or fondness for the genre.
And finally, a heads up for anime watchers. The first volume features episodes 1,2,3,7,11 and 12 so out of the 10 chapters that make up Volume 1, you’ll more often be retreading than experiencing all new content. If you wish to skip them here are the chapters to avoid; Chapters 1,2,4,5,6 and 7.
Crossing Time is available digitally via Crunchyroll.com.