Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki, Vol. 8.5

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.

I was wondering if any of these short stories would show the lead up to the cliffhanger from Book 8, but it’s the opposite. Most of these stem from the end of Book 7, and the two weeks or so where Tomozaki and Kikuchi are in love-love couple mode before he decides to forget that he has a girlfriend. That said, the real value of this book is the insight into the characters of Hinami and Rena. They’re similar in a couple of ways, with one basing her life around “goals” and the other around “guys”. More to the point, you could argue that both are vying to be the antagonist of this series. It’s become clear since the start of the series that Hinami’s advice to Tomozaki should be taken with a massive grain of salt, and that reaches its apex in Book 8. As for Rena, we get her tragic backstory, which also seems to be similar to Hinami’s in a way, in that both are characters whose minds do not work the way that we’re used to with light novel teenagers.

The stories here are: 1) a party to celebrate the success of the play, on Christmas Eve, complete with snow; 2) Some more insight into Hinami’s character, including additional allusions to her tragic past that are not third-hand like the previous book; 3) Mimimi coming to terms with the fact that Tomozaki has chosen Kikuchi over her, and talking with Kikuchi about this; 4) Rena’s past and some scenes leading up to her scenes from the 8th volume; 5) everyone gathers together to sing karaoke, and Tomozaki has the assignment to sing a song with everyone else there; 6) Kikuchi’s post-Christmas pre-New Year’s romantic glow, which also includes a conversation she had with Hinami at the Christmas party; and 7) an adaptation of a Bonus CD audio track, featuring the cast trying a virtual reality game.

Some of these stories are more important than others, frankly. The Hinami one was fantastic, and makes it even more clear (as does her conversation with Kikuchi) that she is going to be having a complete breakdown at some point before the end of this series. We’re still not sure what happened with her family, but certainly there were three siblings and now there are two. Her story, and Kikuchi’s, really hammer home how she has turned her life and her sense of self into a joyless empty shell, and I think she knows this deep down and that’s why she was briefly angry at Kikuchi for essentially figuring it out immediately. I also really enjoyed Mimimi’s story, though it once again reminds me she’s coming in third in a two-person race. As for Rena’s, it was certainly insightful, but also difficult to read. I don’t like her much.

So this was pretty much about what you want in a group of short stories, and the end audio CD story has a very satisfying beatdown that I’m sure isn’t a metaphor for anything. Good stuff. Now, let’s have Tomozaki fix his punctured romance ASAP, please.

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  1. The Mimimi story was good (as were several of the stories; the first story in the book was my least favorite). I do keep wondering though, is the author actually going to pull the trigger on Mimimi’s bisexuality at some point in this book series about social relationships? We get POVs from multiple characters, and none of the other girls are constantly thinking about how attractive other girls are, how they smell good, etc. It’s always played off as “hah-hah, Mimimi doesn’t take any of this seriously” but it’s obviously not just a “joke” if she’s keeping it up even inside her own head.

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