By mikawaghost and tomari. Released in Japan as “Tomodachi no Imouto ga Ore ni dake Uzai” by GA Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Alexandra Owen-Burns.
This honestly may be the best volume in the series to date. We get a plotline that was completely unpredictable and fun, development of the ongoing love triangle, a lot of great humor, seeing Akiteru try to be proactive and sympathetic but missing the point a good 3/4 of the time, and while the book does have a bit of Sumire in it, she’s mostly in school and forced to be in teacher mode, and thus no shotacon jokes for the second book in a row! The series continues to do a very good job of making everyone likeable – even Akiteru, despite being the classic punchable oblivious guy. It helps that he’s so supposedly “logical” and matter of fact, and thus a different type from the usual pleasant potato. The whole thing ends up in a beauty contest, which features gorgeous pictures of Iroha (in a dress) and Mashiro (in a suit). Sadly, I must report that the illustrator and publisher are goddamn cowards.
It’s the culture festival, which means maid cafes, as well as the school beauty contest. Before that, though, there is the problem of Iroha, who is still freaking out over the fact that she can’t be friends with Mashiro AND be trying to win Akiteru’s heart at the same time. Taking Otoi’s advice to try to see things from the perspective of people other than her own, she spends most of the book acting out the “roles” of her friends and classmates, including Mashiro, Sumire, and Midori. Unfortunately, all of this is frustrating Akiteru, who is trying to demonstrate to Iroha that she can simply be herself and does not have to be the perfect honor student OR other people, she can be as annoying as she wants to be. She’s never going to agree to that, because her being annoying is a form of flirting reserved only for him. So there’s only one thing he can do, really: dress up as a woman and enter the beauty pageant to defeat her.
There is a large amount of this book devoted to Akiteru dressing up as a woman, including some good makeup tips, and it is remarked upon how gorgeous he looks as the end product (provided he doesn’t speak, something he manages to pull off. I actually flicked back and forth over the book three times to make sure I was not missing an obvious illustration. But no, this book is written for teenage boys, and they do not want to see boys in dresses. Feh. The highlight of the book, though, is the growing friendship between Iroha and Sasara, as it turns out most of the “rivalry” stuff was simply because Sasara saw that Iroha was wearing a mask and hated it. Getting her to remove it is fantastic, and it’s nice to see that, despite deliberately ignoring romance for the time being, Akiteru’s sense of what Iroha needs is probably accurate.
As is common with this series, we get a vicious cliffhanger at the end, and I suspect the next volume will make Akiteru very uncomfortable. Till then, this is excellent high school romantic comedy.