Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki, Vol. 6.5

By Yuki Yaku and Fly. Released in Japan as “Jaku Chara Tomozaki-kun” by Gagaga Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Winifred Bird.

As you can tell by the volume number, this is a short story collection. That said, definitely don’t read it till you’ve read the 6th book, as a lot of the back half of this volume deals with what happens in that book. For the most part, Tomozaki is not the focus of this book either, though of course a lot of it has his presence. Instead we get each heroine getting approximately a quarter of the book to get short stories giving us insight into how they think and interact with others. (The exception to this is Suzu, who’s barely mentioned here, and it feels odd she’s left out, especially as this volume is rather short.) The good news is that they’re very good stories, with one exception, and Aoi and Mimimi in particular come off with added insight into their character. Indeed, Aoi continues to worry me. I’ve said before that I find her the most interesting heroine, and that hasn’t changed, but boy, she’s set up for a breakdown somewhere down the road if she keeps this up.

The stories are: Aoi in middle school, slowly becoming the perfect girl we know and are wary of, and dealing with her first boyfriend; Aoi and Tomozaki shopping for winter clothing and learning more about fashion; the girls’ side of the cabin conversation from Book 3 (where we saw the boys’ side); Kukichi in middle school, where she discovers Michael Andi and learns to open up to others – slightly – with the help of a kind librarian; Izumi worrying that her boyfriend is cheating on her; Mimimi feeling at a loss and left behind shortly after she quits the track team, and realizing that just because she quit track does not mean she has to stop running; two other Mimimi POV stories from Vol. 6 that give us her side leading up to and right after her confession; and Tsumugi and her friends spotting Takahiro dressed as a bartender and following him… and indeed, he is working at a bar (to help his brother).

First of all, the Izumi story is the one I didn’t enjoy. “I have little self-esteem so am worried my guy is cheating on me but it all turns out to be a big misunderstanding” makes me roll my eyes at the best of times, and this one has no surprises at all. Other than that, this was quite a good book. Aoi’s “how can I manipulate this situation to my advantage” mindset is exactly as you’d expect, and is even more “impressive” given that she hasn’t even gotten into gaming yet at this point in the story. That said, we do also see a nervous middle-schooler at the core of her actions, and are reminded that being a popular girl has its own dangers. Mimimi’s stories are also fantastic, and I feel the most for her, I think, as she also tends to “put on a persona” around others, but isn’t sure how to move on or grow up the way everyone else is. Indeed, Tomozaki’s growth and development both impresses and annoys her, and likely leads to her confession… and immediate complete panic afterwards.

So yes, I do think this is not the usual irrelevant short story collection, but actually has good plot and character beats. The voices of the girls in their narratives all sounded very different as well, so kudos to the author and translator for that. Next time, presumably, we finally resolve the love triangle? Maybe?

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