By Hiromu and raemz. Released in Japan as “Chitose-kun wa Ramune Bin no Naka” by Gagaga Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Evie Lund.
One problem I have with reading light novels that are “high school romcoms”, is that I tend to regard them as taking place in “generic Tokyo suburb”. That’s actually rarely the case. There are a few exceptions – My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong As I Expected will not shut up about Chiba long enough for me to put it anywhere else – but most of them fall into “generic place”. So I was a bit surprised with the subplot here, which is that our hero and heroine-of-the-book head off from their “big city”, Fukui, which has about 275,000 people, to Tokyo, which is 14 million people. I was even more surprised with the message that the story was giving us, which is that the big city can be awesome, despite its huge number of people and occasional creep. If your dream requires you to be in the biggest city in Japan, go there. Because chasing dreams is important. Even if it means giving up on a potential series-killing romance.
Our cast of second years are getting guidance from their seniors as to what to expect in regards to future plans, and one of those seniors is Chitose’s friend/crush Asuka. She has a dream of being an editor at a Japanese publishing house, but there’s just no way that you can do something like that in someplace like Fukui. Her parents are also dead set against it, and want her to become a librarian or civil servant. Chitose is determined to help her, even though he knows that her heading to Tokyo likely means that any relationship they might have would be dead in the water. So he comes up with an idea: visit Tokyo, and see what it’s really like, to find out if it’s overwhelming to her. Of course, to do that, he’s going to have to essentially kidnap her.
The back half of this book finally gives us the full backstory, with one exception, of Chitose, and we also see why much of it was elided – it was being saved for the book focusing on Asuka. I can certainly see why the author is writing Asuka out of the series (though she doesn’t quite leave for Tokyo yet, as it’s still months before graduation), as in a series that prides itself on Chitose balancing his “harem” of four girls fairly equally, Asuka is simply too powerful. That said, there are a few flaws here, The book is much longer than it needed to be, for one. And Asuka gaining all of her strength and coolness that we’ve seen in the series to date by essentially imitating the boy she liked may not sit well with some viewers, though Chitose is quick to point out that that sort of imitation is what everyone does, and eventually it becomes second nature.
In any case, Asuka may not be in Tokyo yet, but she and Chitose have “broken up”, which leaves him free to solve someone else’s problems in the next book. And that also seems to answer my question from last time about the plot of this series: Chitose solves problems, at great expense (his own).