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.
I’m not sure how much longer this series has to go in Japan – Vol. 10 just came out in October there – but I suspect this series is not going to get beyond Vol. 12 at the most, as it’s really starting to wrap everything up. Basically, all the secrets that everyone has been hiding come out here, and come out very publicly. In some cases this is a good thing. We’ve watched Mashiro’s character development from the start of the series, and here we see why she writes and what she takes inspiration from. She’s jealously guarded her own incredibly popular work because she worries others will change it and that it won’t be hers anymore, but coming to terms with her feelings for Akiteru has made her back off on that – and on the fake relationship, which she breaks because she feels it’s holding her back on the chances of a real relationship. She gets some of the best bits in this book… but is still probably coming in 2nd of 2.
The class has a free day, which is good because Akiteru got no sleep the night before as Mashiro, as I mentioned above, breaks up with him. That said, she’s now taking him out on a date to the not-Disneyworld theme park… you know, the one run by Iroha’s mother. Who happens to be there, and gives them free “extra special guest” passes. Of course, they’re followed by Midori, who is still fairly broken up about her rejected confession. Meanwhile, Mizuki takes Iroha to the set where they’re filming, and there they run into Otoi, who does not like Mizuki very much and it shows. After this, they too end up at the theme park, where Mizuki has a meeting. As Mashiro and Akiteru deal with a very scary haunted mansion… erm, sorry, ghost mansion… Iroha also ends up in the same mansion. How many dates is Akiteru going to have, anyway?
The best character in this volume may be Otoi, whose bluntness helps to cut through the aura of bullshit that everyone else around her carries, even if we still don’t know her first name (it’s implied to make people think of toilets). As mentioned above, Mashiro gets a great character development book, but in terms of romance it comes up short – Akiteru thinks they’re on a “real” date, whereas she thinks that they, the creators of a popular horror game, are here for research. It’s funny, but in a bittersweet way. Less funny is Iroha’s cliffhanger. The relationship between Iroha and her mother has always had an air of “final boss” to it, and here we see that Iroha is so terrified of her that when it comes time to admit out loud what she wants to do with her life, she runs away. It’s actually rather depressing.
This does sort of wrap up the arc from last time, but it also has a cliffhanger that promises us that the next book will be a flashback showing us how Akiteru and Iroha first met. After that, we basically have only two plotlines to resolve, as I said. This is a solid series, but I admit I’m more in it for the drama now than the wacky teasing.