By Takehaya and Poco. Released in Japan as “Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!?” by Hobby Japan. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Warnis.
As we are at a particularly dramatic point in the main storyline, clearly it is time for another short story collection that takes place before everyone went off into space. These stories all seem to take place at some vague point between Vols. 14-20, and once again three of them were serialized online and one is original for this book. You can probably guess that the best of the four is the exclusive one, and you’d be correct, but they’re all pretty decent, showing off these characters we’ve come to enjoy. The first story continues a theme of Harumi being rather annoyed at Koutarou treating her like the sweet, fragile girl, so she asks Kiriha for advice on how to be a “bad girl”. This goes about as well as you’d expect, as Harumi is as sweet as pie. Likewise, Clan is noted for her awkward tsundere attitude around Koutarou, and that’s not going to change either, even if she does start working out with him and Shizuka.
Elfaria gets the cover art for once, as well as the third story, where she explains why she looks so young (genetics, she’s an alien) and allows Yurika, Maki and Sanae to give her a makeover to make her look even younger, at least for a time. This also allows Koutarou to see Elfaria as she was when he first met her, which throws him for a loop – no doubt her intention. This all leads to the final story, where the class goes on a trip to… well, the text if careful not to say where they go, except they have to fly, but it’s not Kyoto. A rather lonely Harumi and Clan end up tagging along, but the big plot point of this story is another girl in the class, Shiori, who has known Koutarou since he was little, has made up her mind to confess to him. (His basic standoffishness is why she put it off for so long.) Suddenly the girls are all worried – sure, they’re all close to Koutarou, but will this girl pass them all?
The answer isn’t surprising (no), but the key point comes when Kiriha realizes what’s been bugging her about this whole situation: the girls are feeling jealous of Shiori, but not of each other. No one in the group resents anyone else for being in love with Koutarou. It’s important setup given that this ISN’T one of those fantasy isekai worlds where polygamy is legal to solve everything. Kenji also helps underline this point by telling Koutarou he has to buckle down and pick one of the girls to date formally, and Koutarou absolutely cannot so it as he can’t imagine living without any of them. The feeling of family has to come first – they all love each other, but “romantic love” is still down the road. The story also helps to remind everyone how much the girls – and Koutarou – have grown sine the start of the series.
So overall a good short-story collection. That said, I’ll be glad to be back in the main action with Vol. 24. Good thing it’s already out.