An Introvert’s Hookup Hiccups: This Gyaru Is Head Over Heels for Me!, Vol. 6

By Yuishi and Kagachisaku. Released in Japan as “Inkya no Boku ni Batsu Game de Kokuhaku Shitekita Hazu no Gal ga, Dō Mitemo Boku ni Beta Bore Des” by HJ Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Satoko Kakihara.

I’ve talked before about how a lot of these sugary sweet high school romance books tend to be written as a handbook for the awkward teenager reading them, who no doubt does not have a hot big-breasted gyaru girlfriend but would like to know the best way to get one. This really becomes apparent in a scene where Yoshin in checking with his online friends because Nanami is, frankly, coming on really strong to him. He’s a horny teenager, so of course he’s interested, but he wants to make sure that he’s a good boy and doesn’t push. Of course, as is patiently explained to him, if Nanami is pressing to go further and he keeps pushing back, that’s ALSO not listening to her own needs. As for Nanami, she’s getting sex ed from the school nurse… who is giving perhaps more sex ed than anyone really expected. Basically, this volume is even hornier than previous ones.

Yoshin and Nanami are still trying to figure out who left that note in her locker asking about the dare. They even confide in her parents and best friends, but they have no idea who it could be. Unfortunately, Yoshin can’t afford to get too distracted – exams are coming up, and if he manages to do well in every class, Nanami has a special reward for him… that she hasn’t quite thought through fully, but that’s Nanami for you. After this, it’s summer vacation, which means festival time! Nanami in a yukata! A yukata that falls open at a really inconvenient moment! You can tell which anime this author was watching in their teenage years. Unfortunately, their one lead on who wrote the note (which would also have tied in nicely with a previous book) turns out to be wrong. Could it be the new character we’re only introduced to this book?

First off, I agree with Yoshin. The old “I skipped a line and so all my answers are one line off so I fail” thing really does read like a bad manga, and it’s annoying that it shows up here. That said, while this is definitely a hornier volume than usual, I’m pretty sure “have a bath with me” (the winning prize) was absolutely going to lead to places that editorial does not want this relatively wholesome high school romance to go. This is despite the fact that he’s bought condoms, and that the school nurse is pretty much assuming they’re already having sex. Honestly, everyone around them assumes that they’re the closest most loving couple in the world. But for now, we get kisses (mostly on the cheek), lots of discussion of Nanami’s breasts and how big they are, and the one erotic piece in the book, where Nanami straddles him on the bed and you wonder if things might actually go farther. Sadly, there’s a knock at the door.

So I assume that next volume will wrap up the note subplot. Till then, this is a decent volume in a series that wants to push the envelope without opening it. Also, that afterword deserved to be about 8 pages shorter.

An Introvert’s Hookup Hiccups: This Gyaru Is Head Over Heels for Me!, Vol. 5

By Yuishi and Kagachisaku. Released in Japan as “Inkya no Boku ni Batsu Game de Kokuhaku Shitekita Hazu no Gal ga, Dō Mitemo Boku ni Beta Bore Des” by HJ Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Satoko Kakihara.

Generally speaking, I enjoy these “sweet love story” light novels, enough so that I’m reading several in the genre, but they have their flaws, and this 5th volume of An Introvert’s Hookup Hiccups shows off a big one: the lead couple is simply far too earnest. You would think that would not be an issue, especially since they’re now a genuine couple, but that’s exactly the crux of the problem. After spending the last quarter of the last book groveling and apologizing to each other for their mutual deceit, they both realize that other people were involved in this dare as well, and the other people realize it too, and (while not as bad as our leads) they are also very earnest people. And so the entire first THIRD of this book consists entirely of apologies. It is, frankly, exhausting, repetitive, and mildly annoying. Get back to being accidentally smooth with each other, please.

So yes, the book opens with Nanami’s best friends apologizing to them for the dare. Then they apologize to their families for the dare. And then Nanami’s mother apologizes to them because she knew about the dare. Then they go apologize to the guy who confessed to her while they were fake going out. Honestly, this was the most interesting apology, if only as Yoshin and Shibetsu are bonding so closely and so quickly you want to check the genre of the book you’re reading. After this, though, it’s all sweetness all the time, as they go to cheer Shibetsu on in his basketball tournament, visit a trampoline park (where Yoshin learns that sports bras exist and what they do), meet Hatsumi and Ayumi’s boyfriends, go to an indoor pool at night, and end up having a surprise wedding photo shoot, which they only put up token resistance for.

Yoshin spends a good deal of this book wondering if he’s really doing enough for his relationship, or thinking about his future and how to be a breadwinner, etc. The irony, of course, is that he’s way ahead of most of the cast when it comes to honest love and communication, and lacks the “this is too embarrassing” gene that most light novel guys tend to have. I think he’s probably going to be good no matter what he chooses to do. We also get a better look at the two boyfriends, as I said. I mentioned in an earlier review they both sound like they’re starring in light novels of their own. It’s still not wrong. The book lightly glides over the “stepbrother/stepsister” one, and the other one has a big age difference. There’s parental pushback, but not for the reason you might think. Basically, they’ve got a few more problems than the sickly sweet Yoshin and Nanami, who (it is literally pointed out) will be married the day they graduate high school and likely having their first child nine months later. The book is sweet and not sleazy, but these kids are quite horny for each other.

So yeah, the series could have ended fine as of Book 4, and I could have done without Apology Tour 2023, but this gives readers what they want. That cliffhanger suggests that the initial premise is not entirely gone, however…

An Introvert’s Hookup Hiccups: This Gyaru Is Head Over Heels for Me!, Vol. 4

By Yuishi and Kagachisaku. Released in Japan as “Inkya no Boku ni Batsu Game de Kokuhaku Shitekita Hazu no Gal ga, Dō Mitemo Boku ni Beta Bore Des” by HJ Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Satoko Kakihara.

As I was reading this book and looking at the inner illustrations, I am reminded that the core audience for this is meant to be guys, and most likely guys trying to relive their past high school history only with much better luck with women. As such, the art is very reminiscent of old-school visual novels: try not to show the guy at all, and if you do show him, make it as little as possible. That can’t quite be done here, because so much of this art is “the perfect date”, which involves things like our young couple making the ‘heart’ sign with their hands, but it mostly fits, as do the covers. The Introvert is the reader. The Gyaru is what we’re here for. Well, that and the happy ending, which this book drags out as long as possible but eventually gets to.

Well, Yoshin and Nanami have finally gotten to the one-month mark, and they’re both ready to confess their terrible, terrible secrets. But before that, they have one last date to go on… or rather, two dates, which they insist is the same date. The first day is her choice, and we see them go to a sweets-themed amusement park, where they see chocolate made, go on train rides around the park, and take cute pictures of each other. The next day is his choice, and they go to a petting zoo, getting to deal with sheep, monkeys, polar bears, and many others, and take cute pictures of each other. Then they go to a shrine, where both basically pray for the gods to watch over them as they confess their terrible, terrible secrets. Finally, we get to the following day at school, where Nanami leads Yoshin to the spot she confessed to him… and says it was all a lie.

I will admit, this book can be a bit trying at times. It is so sweet it’s almost sickness inducing. Not only are Yoshin and Nanami adorable together in the eyes of the reader, everyone else in the book thinks so too. Amusement park employees squee over them. Little kids point out how they’re holding hands. Old folks who’ve been married for fifty years say that the two of them already feel like they’re married. All of this despite the fact that, until the end of the book, kisses on the cheek is as far as they’ve gone. Even the confession, where Nanami admits she asked him out on a dare, and Yoshin admits that he overheard this and knew, is framed adorably, with a “Gift of the Magi” quality to it as they both beg each other for forgiveness and affirm their love. Heck, they talk a lot in this book about what they’ll do when they have kids. These two have it bad for each other.

So yes, this is good, but a bit much at times. What’s worse, there is a 5th book, so we get even more sweetness without the pull of “they’re secretly sad because they think they’ll break up”. What could possibly happen now? Licking ice cream off each other’s face? Who knows?