Chitose Is in the Ramune Bottle, Vol. 2

By Hiromu and raemz. Released in Japan as “Chitose-kun wa Ramune Bin no Naka” by Gagaga Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Evie Lund.

I’m enjoying the Chitose series a great deal, but if there’s one thing that worries me it’s that I don’t know what the series’ overall plot is. Other series have ‘each volume has a girl in distress” about them, most notably Rascal Does Not Dream Of (insert girl here), but we know by the end of Book 2 what the basic thread of the series is (the supernatural manifestations of psychological trauma). I suppose it veers closest to My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong As I Expected, which also features a lead guy who will throw himself under the bus to solve a problem, but I think if I tried comparing Chitose with Hachiman the latter would be very angry with me. The question is, are we meant to be figuring out who is “best girl” in a romantic sense? Is this about ripping Chitose’s mask off? Or is it just a series where a group of high schoolers give an excuse for a plot of the week, like many TV shows?

As you might have guessed, the girl on the cover is the main girl of this book, Yuzuki Nanase. She’s lately been worried that she has a stalker, and asks Chitose to pretend to be her boyfriend in order to either drive them off or draw them out. He’s the obvious choice as the two of them are extremely similar, and so she knows he won’t be getting any misconceptions about what this relationship is about. Unfortunately, her fears turn out to be quite justified, as delinquents from a different school are forcing her to revisit an incident from her past that she’s been trying to bury. In the meantime, the fact that he’s now dating Nanase has Chitose in a spotlight he’d rather avoid, and he ends up having ANOTHER guy that he tries to give life advice to.

The other similar series I didn’t mention in the first paragraph is Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki, and there is an element of that here in Chitose’s trying to hammer home the idea that girls are not pure fantasy creatures and fart and masturbate and everything else that’s normal. But, as with the first book, one of the big draws here is that the popular kids are the leads, allowing the ability to tell a different kind of story. Even something like Tomozaki relies on the outsider who has a past where he always thought “goddamn normies” to get past. Kenta, the nerd from the first book, is still here and is now part of their group, but he’s not the narrator and doesn’t drive the plot. This is a story of popular kids dealing with a specific popular girl problem in a way that, say, Hachiman would be unable to pull off. Good thing, too, as this book also gets more serious towards the end, with suggestions of sexual assault in both past and present.

So I’m still not sure where this series is going, but I’m greatly enjoying the ride. That said, I suspect that all the potential romantic interests for Chitose, including Nanase, are going to have to take a back seat to his upperclassman crush, and the cover for Vol. 3 suggests we’ll get a lot more of her next time.

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