By Buncololi and Kantoku. Released in Japan as “Sasaki to Pi-chan” by Media Factory. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Alice Prowse.
The joy of this series is the genre mashup, of course, but that can also make it very hard to take at times. When the author does a genre, they go all in. This means the fantasy world is filled with throne wars, elves, dragons, and last minute plot twists. The “psychic” part of the story involves people using powers to control others and create chaos all around them. It also veers into a sentai show here, and it’s very deliberate. The Neighbor Girl’s supernatural part is very much standard “death game”, even though she and her demonic partner don’t get to wipe out anyone this book. But Neighbor Girl (who we get a last name for at last – Kurosu) also brings another sub-genre to the plate, which is hideous abuse. That’s the “slice of life” in this volume’s subtitle, and it absolutely goes off the rails when she, Sasaki and Futarishizuka attend the wake from hell. This is getting an anime soon, and I imagine making this all cohere seamlessly will be a nightmare.
Sasaki has a lot on his plate. He’s attending the aforementioned wake, where we learn that apparently Neighbor Girl’s family has money, but also that literally everyone in the family despises her; he’s dealing with the aftermath of the sea monster from the last book, as he and Hoshizaki are almost lured to America with the promise of a ton of money, stopped only by their complete lack of English skills. An unknown enemy decided to mind control people into causing a riot near Hoshizaki’s apartment, presumably to do to it what they did with Sasaki’s old place; and there is, of course, the fantasy world, where it appears that the first prince has betrayed the nation and is collaborating with the enemy. Can he even find time to settle down and get some actual sleep? He can in the fantasy world, but certainly not in Japan.
I tend to go on about Neighbor Girl too much in these reviews, and her story vanishes after the first third of the book, so I will just note that that slap made me scream out loud, and also that she is a ticking time bomb that Sasaki is ignoring but Futarishizuka certainly isn’t. We do get to learn a lot more about Hoshizaki in this book, though I suspect she would not be happy with that fact. Unsurprisingly, at school she seems to have no friends and looks the stereotypical bookish nerd – her overly made up face on the job is the attempt to look “grown up”. Her younger sister straight up thinks her part-time job is sex work, and Sasaki has to reassure her while also giving nothing away about what the job actually is. She’s also clearly got a crush on Sasaki, but is sadly running a very distant third, behind Futarishizuka (easily the front runner) and Neighbor Girl.
This is a good book, and has an excellent plot twist near the end I did not expect. It’s also a book that rewards close character analysis, which I like. If you can put up with the occasional lolicon joke, it’s a definite winner. And it appears next book we’re adding aliens.