By Hajime Kamoshida and Keji Mizoguchi. Released in Japan as “Seishun Buta Yarou wa Chibi Devil Kohai no Yume wo Minai” by Dengeki Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Andrew Cunningham.
This book had several hills to climb in order to win me over, to be honest. I enjoyed the romance in the first volume, and was not fond of it being torpedoed right off the bat in the cliffhanger. The heroine of this book, Tomoe, did not make all that good an impression on me in the first one. Time loop stories make me vaguely uncomfortable, hitting a certain level of “I get embarrassed reading this” in me. And fake dating stories also rub me the wrong way in actual books, though oddly I’m fine with it in fanfiction, mostly as it almost always leads to real dating. That said, it’s a testament to the writing skill of the author that I was able to enjoy the book regardless, and most of my objections stated above were put to rest fairly easily. (The one heroine per book thing is something I fear I will have to get used to.)
The time loop is helped by it only being relevant at the start and end of the book. Sakuta is caught in a loop of the same day… for three days, and then, when it breaks, he’s basically in the worst possible situation. This is due to the heroine of this book, Tomoe, who is not a literal devil but is a stand in for “Laplace’s Demon”. We saw her in book one kicking Sakuta’s butt (and getting kicked in the butt in return, something that Sakuta, being who he is, brings up over and over again in this book), and now she has a problem, one that she tried to get Sakuta to help with once the time loop breaks. In order to fend off the attention of another guy, they have to pretend to date for the rest of the semester. Of course, Sakuta is in love with Mai, which makes things just a bit difficult. And that’s not even getting into Tomoe hitting the “fanfiction” part of the trope and wanting to turn her fake dating real.
As with the first book, the main reason to read the series is Sakuta, who is both a very nice , upstanding guy and a completely terrible lech who just has no filter at all. This book provides a different heroine to react to this, and while Mai was basically doing her best Senjogahara impersonation, Tomoe is the sort of blush, stomp her feet and say “Geez!” at his antics. Tomoe is far more likeable in this book when she gets the entire novel to sell herself, and I really enjoyed her backstory, which also tied into the reason why Sakuta, who is still trying to tell Mai he loves her, agrees to do this at all. There are hints of future plot developments – the third book seems to feature Rio, and there’s some setup for that here, namely her not-so-hidden crush on her friend Yuuma, and there’s another shocking cliffhanger ending that will no doubt play out in future books somehow. And there’s a lot of fun humor, mostly because Sakuta exists.
To sum up, I was wary of this book, but it ended up being a lot of fun. I am definitely getting the next in the series.