Haibara’s Teenage New Game+, Vol. 5

By Kazuki Amamiya and Gin. Released in Japan as “Haibara-kun no Tsuyokute Seishun New Game” by HJ Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Esther Sun.

In my review of the last book I mentioned that I was not entirely sure where the series would be going after this, since it seemed to end so decisively with the fourth volume: Natsuki has confessed to Hikari, rejected Uta as best he could, and also done a “God Knows” musical moment on the crowd. But of course, having a fulfilling high school life is the goal that he had when he went back in time, and romance is not the only thing in high school. That said… it is a pretty big thing. The Fellowship is still a bit broken after he made his confession, with Uta pouring everything into basketball and Tatsuya completely remaking his entire personality. And there’s the fact that he’s childhood friends and best friends with Miori… which makes everyone think they’re ALSO dating, and makes Hikari a little jealous (though she won’t say it out loud). That said, most of what we get in this volume is the other high school mainstay: sports!

No, it’s not a full blown sports festival (which is a shame, as I wanted to see some bread eating and scavenger hunt antics), but a ball game competition. The class divides into groups, each doing a different sport. For Natsuki’s class, the boys have basketball and the girls have soccer. That’s fine by Natsuki, who has all the training he got in his past life when he was trying desperately to be a cool athlete. But the actual cool athlete, Tatsuya, is still in an incredible funk over giving Uta up to Natsuki and then having Natsuki reject her anyway. As a result, he’s trying to BECOME Natsuki, pouring effort into studying to raise his grades. But does Uta even want someone who’s “just like Natsuki”? Also, is Miori finally going to snap, or will that wait till next book?

We’ve guessed that Miori has a hidden crush on Natsuki since the start of the series, but it’s now getting a lot less hidden. For one thing, she’s dealing with nasty rumors that she’s cheating on Reita with Natsuki, because they’re both on the Sports Committee and also clearly close. She’s also not dealing with with his new relationship with Hikari, trying to distance herself from him but failing, and pulling off a genuine “What if… I was in love with you all this time… ha ha just kidding… unless?”. Most importantly, Reita is well aware that she loves Natsuki, and is basically patiently waiting for her to either get past it, confront Natsuki, or break up with him. None of those things is happening. She and Natsuki are both much better at giving advice on love than dealing with it themselves, to be honest – Natsuki is flailing around trying to figure out how to behave when dating someone, and both he and Miori are fantastic when getting their cute nerd friends to confess to each other but less so otherwise.

So yeah, it turns out that returning to high school not only gets you a rainbow-colored youth but also typical high school drama. Still a fun series in the high school romcom genre.

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