By Sunsunsun and Momoco. Released in Japan as “Tokidoki Bosotto Russia-go de Dereru Tonari no Alya-san” by Kadokawa Sneaker Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Matthew Rutsohn.
When this was licensed, I jokingly called it “The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Russian”, and my review of the first volume talks about this being in that “syrupy sweet romance” genre, but this second volume seems to have shed a lot of that, and it feels much more like a standard romcom now, complete with other potential romantic interests and a better look at Masachika’s backstory that shows it was not, in fact, as normal and mundane as I thought it was. Basically, the first volume was a bigger success than the author expected, o now we have to go back and make things a bit harder for our couple. Admittedly, given Alya’s deep embarrassment at, well, anything, that’s not too hard. The goal for the series seems to have changed as well, going from “get this tsundere girl to admit she likes the guy” to “get the guy to take up what he had abandoned and also kick his family in the teeth”. Which, yes, may include his sister, who’s happy to play the villain.
The last book ended with Masachika deciding to help Alya become student council president, and most of this book is about the fallout from that decision, as a lot of people have feelings about it. There’s Yuki, who is conflicted, but mostly seems to be happy that Alya has finally gotten Masachika to care about something again, even if it isn’t Yuki. There’s Ayano, who is Yuki’s maid (and used to be Masachika’s), and who is mostly comedy relief but also feels a bit betrayed by Masachika abandoning Yuki. And there’s Sayaka, the girl that Yuki and Masachika beat our for the student council in middle school, who is furious with Alya for using her looks and feminine wiles to steal Masachika away from the OTP. (Said OTP being his blood-related sister, I remind you, which is why he finds this so baffling.) Clearly there’s only one thing left to do. Debate.
This is decent. There’s one line from Ayano that I could very much have done without (I mentioned it on Twitter), but for the most part she’s an amusing “ninja maid” addition to the cast, and I hope she gains actual depth. As for Masachika, it’s now clear that his issues are not just “my parents split up”, but that he was the scion, and deliberately abandoned that role, pushing it onto his sister and adapting a “whatever” personality that everyone around him hates. Alya has been the only one who can really get him to break out of that, and he’s also proving to be the best thing for Alya in return, giving her confidence and the drive to succeed in her goals. (She too has a sister sacrificing things for her – the series is not ashamed to have its thematic parallels hit you in the face.)
So they’re a good couple… except they’re not a couple yet, and this series being the kind it is, I expect that won’t change soon. But will we have the student council election next time? If you like romcoms, this is solid.