Rascal Does Not Dream of a Sister Venturing Out

By Hajime Kamoshida and Keji Mizoguchi. Released in Japan as “Seishun Buta Yarou wa Odekake Sister no Yume wo Minai” by Dengeki Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Andrew Cunningham.

The last two books in the series were pretty much crushingly emotional, with some genuine grief and horror in them, and I imagine that readers are hoping for a slightly more light-hearted volume at this point. Unfortunately, thay may have to wait a bit longer. The eighth Rascal book is not a tragic heartbreaker like the last arc. It’s merely a quiet, unflinching study of how Kaede is trying to get better and move on with her life, and how she’s being hindered not only by her own trauma over what happened in the past, but also the way that the Japanese school system works. And, of course, there’s “the other” Kaede, who hovers over this volume like a ghost, present and influential despite already being gone. Last time Sakuta was able to go back and save Mai from being killed, but there’s no way to really save “both” Kaedes, at least not at this point in the series. He just has to support her as best he can.

Sakuta is getting ready for Mai’s graduation, and being forced to think hard about his own future. Mai wants them to go to college together, so much so that she’s taking a year break to wait for him. This means that he needs to buckle down and actually study rather than being a lazy SOB, his natural state. Things are not helped by the fact that he’s having a dream of her as a small elementary school girl. That said, studying is going to have to take second place to Kaede, whose future is far more fragile. She’s now going to school again… but can’t actually leave the nurse’s office. There are a wide variety of high schools she could attend… but with a complete lack of grades for the last two years, it’s a high bar to clear. And to make matters worse, she’s determined to go to the same school Sakuta and Mai attend. Is that really something she can achieve?

I had forgotten that Japanese education is only compulsory through junior high, so high school is optional. This makes things very difficult for Kaede, though, as with a complete lack of junior high grades, it’s hard to get into a good high school, and that makes it hard to get a good job, etc. She’s made great strides, especially now that she has recovered her old memories, but there are still certain obstacles that still traumatize her, especially relating to her old school. And there’s an even bigger obstacle beyond that, one that has her feeling guilty and unloved. Despite that, Sakuta is an awesome older brother here. He’s trying to support what she says she wants to do, coming up with contingency plans on what to do if that fails, and not pressuring her. There’s also an extended section on remote learning schools that is very good at showing how they can be a help if you find the right one, while also showing that everyone automatically thinks they’re sketchy.

Aside from a plot twist near the end, which I found a bit unbelievable, this was an excellent volume in the series. I do wonder how it would be animated, though… perhaps that’s why there hasn’t been any ore of the anime since the movie. In any case, next time we resolve Sakuta’s new dream. Till then, fight on, Kaede!

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