By Sunsunsun and Momoco. Released in Japan as “Tokidoki Bosotto Russia-go de Dereru Tonari no Alya-san” by Kadokawa Sneaker Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Matthew Rutsohn.
There’s a short story volume due out next, but quite honestly, this one also feels a bit like a short story volume, detailing the wacky adventures of the cast on their summer break. There’s no real through line of plot except Masachika’s crippling self-hatred, and the cliffhanger is one I had sort of guessed, so for the most part this feels a bit disconnected. It is also the horniest book in the series, and this comes from a series that is already pretty horny. That said, it does have one of my least favorite things about light novels, which is the idea, held by both boys and girls, that a man having sexual thoughts is the same as the man doing sexual deeds. There are a whole lot of wacky harem manga situations in this book, and a lot of them lead to Masachika having an erection he’s trying to hide. And that’s OK. He’s a teenage boy. But it’s not OK for him, and he continues to consider himself the worst person in the world. It’s annoying.
The student council is going on a summer vacation to a beach house, but before that we have a few plots involving Masachika and Yuki being themselves. This involves a great deal of sex talk, a fair bit of sibling violence, and an amusement park visit where their secret identities end up getting exposed to Sayaka (who is shocked) and Nonoa (who’d already guessed). Oh yes, and Alya keeps coming over to Masachika’s house when everyone out to do homework, and so far… they’ve done homework. Which annoys her. At the beach house, we get bikinis, swimming, bathing, room switching, and a festival with fireworks, all of which are reasonably cute. Unfortunately, Masachika keeps assuming that he’s screwing everything up, and overcompensates to try to fix it, and ends up hating himself even more by the end of it. He ends up going back to the playground where he played with the foreign kid… who turns out to be someone he knows.
As is pretty typical in the genre, the reader ends up sympathizing with Alya heavily here, despite her accidentally getting groped when Masachika tries to save her from falling onto jagged rocks. (She even trots out the “take responsibility and marry me” chestnut, which I haven’t seen in quite some time.) There’s a whole lot of muttered Russian in this book, which Masachika understands but has to pretend he can’t, but really, she could not be more obvious. Even he gets it at the end of the book. But, as with so many other books in this genre, only one thing is stopping the two from being a couple, and it’s the man’s idea that he’s not good enough for her. To be fair, he has the trauma to back it up, and the scenes we get from his childhood in this book are as depressing as you’d expect. But it’s like eating a marshmallow sandwich where the bread is misery.
Next volume… won’t resolve this cliffhanger. Short story volume. Till then, if you like self-loathing and boobs, this is the perfect title for you.