By Toshizou and Kuro Shina. Released in Japan as “Yuri no Ma ni Hasamareta Watashi ga, Ikioi de Futamata Shite Shimatta” by Overlap Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Tristan K. Hill.
Either this book is wearing me down or I have an undiagnosed concussion injury, because I did not find this third volume of Yuri Tama nearly as annoying as I did the previous two. There are a couple good reasons for that, of course. The godawful incest plotline that plagued the second book seems to have been quietly shelved, and Yotsuba’s sisters, while still overly affectionate, have dialed themselves back. Yotsuba’s self-loathing is still very, very prevalent in everything she says, but at least her girlfriends are now telling her to stop doing that, so we’re getting there. Koganezaki continues to represent the reader’s frustrations, and is awesome. And, of course, there’s a ridiculous new love interest, but frankly, it’s handled about as well as can be expected, given that the premise of this series is Yotsuba doing something amazingly foolish and every other woman in the cast thinking “God, I can’t not fuck her”.
Yotsuba has only just managed to recover from the events of the second book and is trying to quietly enjoy the rest of her summer break, but then her sisters bring stunning news: the idol Maki Amagi is taking a leave of absence from show business. Her sisters are devastated, Yotsuba is nonplussed. Who? Then suddenly a new girl moves into the house next door. No prizes for guessing who it is. It turns out that Maki Amagi is really Makina Oda, who was childhood best friends with Yotsuba before she had to move away. As Yotsuba tries to process this, Makina asks a favor: the paparazzi think she’s dating a guy, so to throw them off the trail, can she pretend to be dating Yotsuba? Yotsuba is immediately taken in by this story that does not sound remotely fake, but how will her actual girlfriends react?
I’ve mentioned this before, but given it’s one of the most notable things about her, I’ll mention it again. When Yotsuba turns off her self-doubt and constant second guessing brain and just goes with the flow, she manages to be a fantastic romantic partner. On her date to the aquarium with Makina, we see this in action, and we also see what’s obvious to everyone but Yotsuba: the “paparazzi” thing was just an excuse, she’s been in love with Yotsuba since she was five years old. The series revels in its cliches (we get the good old “childhood marriage promise” here), but honestly things are handled about as well as I could have expected them to be. Yotsuba has a heart to heart with Rinka and Yuna (followed by offscreen sex with Rinka and Yuna – Yotsuba worries she’ll be terrible in bed, but honestly, given her personality and general vibe when moving on instinct, I think she’ll be a natural) and is still in love with them, but Makina is very much still in the picture.
There’s no fourth book yet, but the author is hopeful, and says it will focus on Koganezaki (who might get to be part of the only yuri pairing in the book that doesn’t involve Yotsuba). Till then, this is very silly but fun, especially if you ignore Yotsuba’s parade of insecurities in her narration.