Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki, Vol. 10

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 Jennifer Ward.

We’ve spent most of this series trying to understand, and in some cases attempting to like, Aoi Hinami. She’s the second protagonist of the series. She’s the driver of most of the changes that Tomozaki makes. She’s also the driver of most of the mistakes that he makes as well. In the last volume we saw things between her and Tomozaki come to a head, and their “partnership” broken up. As I’ve mentioned before, Hinami has seemed scary a lot of the time (rivaled only by the other main girl in the series, Kikuchi) and as the books have gone on we haven’t had a lot of information as to why. We know from a book or so ago that whatever problems she has seem to stem from family issues. And now here, in a book that is dedicated almost entirely to cheering Hinami the hell up after Book 9’s fallout, we finally see what is likely driving her to be the way she is. It’s grief.

Tomozaki has been a bit depressed since he and Hinami “broke up” last volume, and is dwelling on it (in front of Kikuchi, no less, who I continue to feel a bit bad for). What’s more important, though, is that Hinami has also been depressed, to the point that everyone around her notices the cracks in her perfect mask. Given that her birthday is coming up, all her friends decide to throw a “surprise” party with an overnight trip to Super Nintendo World (or its copyright-safe version, at least) amusement park. They also divide into three competing groups, each one trying to get Hinami the present that will make her the happiest. Meanwhile, Tomozaki is determined to talk with Hinami to try to repair their fractured relationship… and Mizusawa wants to finally confess to her. But what will Aoi think about all this?

I’ll be honest, I spent a lot of this book waiting for the other shoe to drop, and was rather surprised when it didn’t (though we may be saving that for the next book). The back half of this book is wonderful, showing everyone going around, getting on rides they know they’ll hate, eating lots of cheese-filled foods, and trying to get Hinami to show her real face to them. And, hey, it works! It turns out that it’s hard to always do the logical, reasonable choice when you are, say, zooming backwards on a terrifying roller coaster. It leads to the emotional climax of the book, where Hinami finally talks to Tomozaki about her past, and reveals that her need to be so certain about everything is down to an event in her life that she can never be certain about – one where the answer to her desperate question is impossible to find out. It really does explain a LOT of what Hinami was doing. That said, the actual end of this book may have more of an impact… will Hinami finally be seen to break down in front of others?

The 11th volume, from what I hear, is the final one. Unfortunately, its release in Japan has been delayed, so I’m not sure when we’ll see it. Till then, this volume is filled with happy and sad moments, and should be satisfying for all fans of the series.

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