By Yuishi and Kagachisaku. Released in Japan as “Inkya no Boku ni Batsu Game de Kokuhaku Shitekita Hazu no Gal ga, Dō Mitemo Boku ni Beta Bore Des” by HJ Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Satoko Kakihara.
Generally speaking, I enjoy these “sweet love story” light novels, enough so that I’m reading several in the genre, but they have their flaws, and this 5th volume of An Introvert’s Hookup Hiccups shows off a big one: the lead couple is simply far too earnest. You would think that would not be an issue, especially since they’re now a genuine couple, but that’s exactly the crux of the problem. After spending the last quarter of the last book groveling and apologizing to each other for their mutual deceit, they both realize that other people were involved in this dare as well, and the other people realize it too, and (while not as bad as our leads) they are also very earnest people. And so the entire first THIRD of this book consists entirely of apologies. It is, frankly, exhausting, repetitive, and mildly annoying. Get back to being accidentally smooth with each other, please.
So yes, the book opens with Nanami’s best friends apologizing to them for the dare. Then they apologize to their families for the dare. And then Nanami’s mother apologizes to them because she knew about the dare. Then they go apologize to the guy who confessed to her while they were fake going out. Honestly, this was the most interesting apology, if only as Yoshin and Shibetsu are bonding so closely and so quickly you want to check the genre of the book you’re reading. After this, though, it’s all sweetness all the time, as they go to cheer Shibetsu on in his basketball tournament, visit a trampoline park (where Yoshin learns that sports bras exist and what they do), meet Hatsumi and Ayumi’s boyfriends, go to an indoor pool at night, and end up having a surprise wedding photo shoot, which they only put up token resistance for.
Yoshin spends a good deal of this book wondering if he’s really doing enough for his relationship, or thinking about his future and how to be a breadwinner, etc. The irony, of course, is that he’s way ahead of most of the cast when it comes to honest love and communication, and lacks the “this is too embarrassing” gene that most light novel guys tend to have. I think he’s probably going to be good no matter what he chooses to do. We also get a better look at the two boyfriends, as I said. I mentioned in an earlier review they both sound like they’re starring in light novels of their own. It’s still not wrong. The book lightly glides over the “stepbrother/stepsister” one, and the other one has a big age difference. There’s parental pushback, but not for the reason you might think. Basically, they’ve got a few more problems than the sickly sweet Yoshin and Nanami, who (it is literally pointed out) will be married the day they graduate high school and likely having their first child nine months later. The book is sweet and not sleazy, but these kids are quite horny for each other.
So yeah, the series could have ended fine as of Book 4, and I could have done without Apology Tour 2023, but this gives readers what they want. That cliffhanger suggests that the initial premise is not entirely gone, however…