By Takehaya and Poco. Released in Japan as “Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!?” by HJ Bunko. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Warnis.
And so I finally finish my Rokujouma catchup. This is also where the upcoming print boxset that was Kickstartered will end, as it had to cut off somewhere, and this is as good a place as any given the series is still coming out in Japan. It’s another one of those “three short stories from the online site and one half-book original” novels, only in this case the half-book overwhelms the short stories even more than usual. The short stories aren’t bad – first there’s a Triathlon our heroes are competing in, and we focus on Clan, who is out of shape, and Yurika, who is in shape but has little motivation. It’s cute, even though they’re also both very pathetic. We then get Harumi and Maki playing board games, which if nothing else shows off how desperately these two nice introverts need someone else to bounce off of. And Shizuka and Ruth have another sentai battle, bringing back Ruth’s beetle phobia, which, let’s face it, no one wanted to bring back.
The half-novel is the first of the “what ifs” the author said he was doing, but it’s framed as also being canon – in the brief interval between when Koutarou and company bring Nalfa back to Room 106 and when she wipes everyone’s memories, the idea of alternate universes comes up. Koutarou was relieved to hear that there are universes where his mother is alive, and Nalfa offers to show him one of those in a dream. (Pointedly, we don’t see that world, possibly as I suspect it would be rather sweet but dull.) The girls all then realize they can look at a world where they won and Koutarou is their boyfriend, and after a jan-ken-pon competition, Harumi is the first to see what that life would be like. She ends up sort of providing color commentary on the dream world, which works because it’s her but I was relieved when the afterword said it would not continue after this.
The “Harumi wins” world is very similar to this one, oddly – it takes place over about the first 8-9 books, and the rest of the cast still arrive and are trying to get control of Room 106. They’re barely in the story, though, as here Koutarou is all about Harumi. Amusingly, it’s because their initial meeting went worse than in canon – when trying to pull away from the dude harassing her, she sprains her wrist and Koutarou has to give first aid. This allows two very hands-off people to touch earlier than usual, and everything springboards from there – Koutarou opens up to her faster, she realizes she’s in love faster, and they confess rapidly. That said, which that world’s Koutarou and Harumi are blissfully happy, OUR Harumi is dissatisfied. A life without the rest of the cast just isn’t the same, even if their real-life romance isn’t resolved. Another reminder that found family story beats sappy romance story.
In Vol. 33 we’ll apparently get Clan’s “what if” story next, but before that it’s back to the ongoing plot. Till then, enjoy this what if that also reminds you that the main plot is best.