By Kota Nozomi and 029. Released in Japan as “Inou Battle wa Nichijoukei no Nakade” by GA Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Tristan K. Hill.
So this was a nice improvement on the first volume, though I will continue to say that I hate it whenever this book has a real plot that it wants is to care about. It’s at its best when it’s just shooting the shit and riffing on Japanese media cliches. Unfortunately, when we run into Chuuni and the Chuutones towards the end, I groaned and wished that Hatoko would simply vanish and reappear back at school. Fortunately, this is precisely what happened. I suppose I’ll have to deal with them more later, but I seriously do not care, whereas I do care about the main cast. Even Andou – I can’t tell if he was far less annoying in this book or if I just got used to his antics, but he worked far better in this book, especially when we get to the relationship between him and Hatoko. Because yes, THIS is the book with “that scene”, and it’s pretty damn epic. Worth the read, definitely, especially given the stress buildup we see all book.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but this is a book of two halves. In the front half we feature once again Kudou, the student council president and vague antagonist from the previous book, who has taken a letter of challenge as a love letter thanks to Andou’s over the top verbiage. Needless to say, she’s the sort to immediately go over the top herself, and Andou has to struggle to find a way to break things to her gently before he breaks her. That said, the confession comes as a shock to the rest of the club, especially two girls who we know have feelings for him. Given her presence on the cover, and the fact that most of the chapters begin with her narration before switching to Andou’s, you can assume Hatoko is especially confused by all this. But, whatever. She wouldn’t understand it anyway.
The book threatens to be drowned out by Hatoko’s rant, which is beautiful, but it also highlights the gulf between them. That said, we see in the flashbacks that this is not for want of trying from Andou – he was attempting for years to get her to understand his way of thinking. But sometimes people just don’t vibe the same way, and the best part of the book is when both of them are told that, in fact, they don’t HAVE to understand each other deeply – they can just be friends because they are friends. The other highlight of the book is the short story competition, which is absolutely hilarious – Hatoko’s grimdark romance, Chifuyu’s incoherent foreign mess, Andou’s summary and character descriptions with no actual text, and Sayumi simply dragging Andou out behind the shed and shooting him in the head. Glorious.
Again, there’s a plot here somewhere, but I plan to ignore it, just as I ignore Andou’s friend Sagami, who is the absolute worst in a way that is clearly deliberate but also I don’t care that it is. Recommended if you use the word “weeb” as a term of honor.