by Ema Toyama
published by Kodansha Comics; $10.99 US
I’m reminded, with this volume, of how grateful I am to get sent review copies, as they give me a chance to keep up with series I’m unsure about. Sometimes, an installment just doesn’t click with me, but that’s as much a statement about me as it about the work, since enjoyment comes from a combination of both what’s on the page and what I bring to it. Someone else, for example, might find this back-and-forth school love rectangle much fresher and more interesting than I do.
As I mentioned in talking about the previous book, this series uses the typical romance convention of preventing characters from talking to each other in order to drive drama and suspense. As this volume opens, that’s taken literally, as Yukina has been blackmailed by Mami into not talking to Shigure, the boy they both like.
That leads to another demand by Mami, that she and Yukina and Shigure and Akira all go to an amusement park together. Mami also demands that Yukina tell Akira she loves him. This is a silly plan, but Yukina feels as though she has to keep her word and follow through on it, in spite of how unpleasant it is to lie to others and hurt their feelings as part of a game.
The series began with Yukina taking control, with her blackmailing Shigure to act as her boyfriend so she could research her romance novel writing. Now, the tables are turned, and I suppose we should be glad to see a manipulator have to suffer from her own medicine. Yet Yukina had such cute, naive, unselfish-in-a-way motives. Mami is mean, pretending to be the perfect young lady but concerned only with what she wants and uncaring about hurting others along the way. In fact, I think she enjoys those side effects.
Shigure goes overboard in reacting jealously. Maybe since Yukina orders him around, it doesn’t occur to him that someone else might have gotten the drop on her and be forcing her to make decisions the same way she was directing him. But that’s just one example of how gullible everyone is. For my tastes, there’s too much ignorant belief in other people in these plots. When people keep telling you ridiculous things and putting you in painful situations, at some point, you should realize that maybe they’re not telling you the truth!
We’ve lost the snarkiness that made Yukina an interesting heroine, and everyone acts like they’re eight years old in terms of how little they know about human nature and romance, which gets creepy. (The publisher provided a review copy.)