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.
In my last review, I compared this book to McDonald’s fast food, and nothing here changes that opinion. I enjoyed it a great deal. It has characters who I enjoy reading, dialogue that’s a lot of fun, and clearly has a long-term goal in mind as opposed to just being written volume to volume. On the other hand, wow, the plot beats here make me cringe. “Let’s save the drama club!” is not something that a self-respecting series should be doing when it’s only the second book, and the ludicrous coincidences that lead to our leads ending up in the production are even worse. Now, I get the sense the author knows this, as the situation really is pretty ludicrous, but yeah, don’t read this for the plot. That said, it should make this pretty fun to adapt when it becomes an anime, and Iroha will no doubt please fans who are already over the moon for Uzaki and Nagatoro, though I warn you her dialogue is a bit slang-filled.
This volume picks up right where the last one left off, as Akiteru tries to figure out how to respond to Mashiro’s confession, and Iroha knows about this confession but has to pretend she doesn’t. Akiteru knows he has to respond quickly and decisively, because he’s read dumb romantic comedy light novels. Unfortunately, it turns out that while he tries his hardest to be the best Eliezer Yudkowsky he can be, he is not quite able to get past the fact that he’s really goddamn happy he got a confession -though it takes him most of the book to figure this out. As for Iroha, well, she’s dealing with jealousy as well, plus her dimwitted senpai not figuring out her feelings (which Mashiro sure can by the end of this book), and it’s even affecting her voice acting work. Hrm, this sounds complicated, maybe saving the drama club *is* what’s needed…
As I’ve said before, Akiteru interests me, mostly as I think he’s screwed up in a very different way from cynics like Kyon or nihilists with a heart of gold like Hachiman. His raw panic when Iroha points out he’s overslept by an hour, and desperation to get to school on time so it doesn’t mess up his regimented life, is very telling. There’s no denying that he’s excellent at directing, be it games or plays, and despite his own denials, he’s a pretty good actor too. But improvisation seems to be a kryptonite for him. The only reason he can do the play is he’s so familiar with the material, and the problems with Mashiro and Iroha that he “solves” here are done after thinking them out in bullet points in his head. The first epilogue suggests that he’s going to have to figure out a way to break through that soon, as he may need to improvise even more in the future.
Despite adding a new cast member to the game group (a classmate of Akiteru’s who is a genius sound designer), this still feels like only three of the cast are really important, and I’m hoping we’ll flesh out the others soon. Unfortunately, next time it looks like the one I didn’t want fleshed out will be getting the spotlight. I smell an arranged marriage… In any case, this is a lot of fun unless you take light novels too seriously.