An Introvert’s Hookup Hiccups: This Gyaru Is Head Over Heels for Me!, Vol. 3

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.

It would appear that this series is going to be four volumes long, so if you were waiting for the payoff where they both finally confess to each other the one secret that is mentally destroying them both, well, you’ll have to wait a bit more. That said, almost everything else gets wrapped up here. Having finally confessed to both sets of parents that they’re going out, and getting approval from both of them, there’s not really much standing in Yoshin and Nanami’s way. Well, OK, there are a few things. Yoshin is still getting advice from his gaming group friends, and feels bad he hasn’t told Nanami about them. And on a more serious note, when Nanami asks him to drop the honorific when he talks to her, he chokes up and can’t quite do it. Is it repressed trauma? Or is it just another case of kids being jerks?

After dealing with the rumor mill at school, which says that either Yoshin has broken up with Nanami, is cheating on Nanami, or is in a harem relationship, we get to the bulk of the plot. Yoshin and Nanami’s parents have decides to take both families on a trip to a hot springs. That… really is the bulk of the plot, these aren’t complicated books. They go to the hot springs several times. They dress up in kimono/yukata and get a rickshaw ride around the town. There’s a few “whoops, I fell asleep and my hand is touching your stomach” moments, the punchline being that she’d prefer if he was groping her boob as she worries about her weight. There’s a cherry blossom viewing. And there’s what I mentioned above, as Nanami is convinced she’s done something to hurt Yoshin, but really it’s … well, as I said above, kids being jerks.

Sorry to spoil the one plot twist in this book, but it turns out that when he was in elementary school he asked a girl if he could call her by her name without an honorific, and she mocked him for it, then the whole class did. This seems mild, but it reminds you that they’re called formative years for a reason, as it led to him basically shutting himself off from other people for years. And, of course, not telling anyone about it. Sadly, I understand those feelings very well. That said, because this is the series it is, by the end of the book he’s managed to get over it, mainly because Nanami is sweet as pie and will forgive him anything. Oh yes, the other minor conflict from previous books is also mentioned – yes, the girl on his gamer group had a crush on him, but once she meets Nanami she pretty much gets over it.

So all that’s left is admitting “I did it for a dare”/”I know”, and the series is over. That will take another book, thoguh I’m pretty sure that book will also be filled with sweet, adorable moments. Which are basically the reasons that people read this series.

An Introvert’s Hookup Hiccups: This Gyaru Is Head Over Heels for Me!, Vol. 2

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.

In my review of the first volume of this light novel series, I said that it reminded me of an eroge where the reader was just following the walkthrough, not wanting to get remotely near any choices that resulted in a bad ending. That still applies, fear not. That said, it also is similar to that genre in other ways. This series is never going to have any sexual content, or if it is it will be much later on. But for all that it is sweet as pie, it is also here for the horny male that is its main reader. Nanami has large breasts, something that the text of this volume will absolutely hammer home over and over throughout, and she and Yoshin are clearly thinking of each other sexually, even if the closest we get is kisses on the cheek/forehead and sticking his arm against her chest as they walk. Which, honestly, does feel pretty teenage.

Nanami and Yoshin are now a couple, and naturally are going to have the standard problems that couples have. Well, to a degree. They have the problems, it’s just they’re dealt with in a ridiculously easy way. For Yoshin it’s that the teachers don’t believe he’d be dating a hot girl, so worry that she’s bullying him. For Nanami, it’s that the other girls in her class are amazed she’s dating an introverted loner. Resolving this takes about five pages at most. There’s also the matter of Nanami meeting Yoshin’s parents, but as it turns out they accidentally run into the couple while they’re sharing a bubble tea. This also goes REALLY well, the only issue being that Yoshin has been taking the lunch money his parents had been giving him every day, since Nanami is making him lunches. There’s nothing getting in this couples’ way, so clearly it’s time for an aquarium date.

The series’ strongest point is the sweetness. These two are ridiculously pure and likeable. Yoshin may be an “introvert”, but unlike a lot of titles like this that does not mean that he’s a loser socially inept dweeb sort. Indeed, we learn late in the book that the whole “dare” that started this series was instigated by Nanami’s two friends in order for her to have someone to watch over her after they graduated, and that Yoshin was their first choice. I think the author realizes that the “we dated on a dare” part is still hanging over the couple, and although most of the rest of the cast knows the truth, Nanami hasn’t confessed it to Yoshin, nor has he told her he knew from the start. That’s the ONLY conflict. Everything else is 80% adorable couple-ness and 20% sexy hot girl, look. It’s almost a perfect example of its genre.

There’s a third book coming, and I’m not sure we’ll be getting to the “confession” that is supposed to happen in a month’s time – this series moves very slowly. But if you’re looking for cute, and are OK with sexytimes that never go anywhere except rated PG, this is a can’t miss title.

An Introvert’s Hookup Hiccups: This Gyaru Is Head Over Heels for Me!, Vol. 1

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 suspect most readers of this site are familiar with the concept of a visual novel, and the ones that feature romance or sexual content tend to get called “eroge”. The usual premise is that you play a faceless high school… erm, college, sorry, of course everyone’s over 18… boy who, depending on the choices he makes, can score with one of 5-6 different women… or get a “bad end” when you screw up and get none of them. A lot of fans like to wait until there’s a walkthrough. They’re not here for the gaming part of it. They’re here to read the story and see our hero get it on. I don’t need the bad choices, I only need the one correct choice each scene to advance the story. If you took that concept and made it a light novel, it would be this one. We are here to see sweet romcom, and no mistakes will be made.

Yoshin is, as the title might suggest, a quiet introvert, not an otaku type but one who naturally lurks in the back of class and goes home on his own. One day he returns to the classroom after school to get something he forgot and overhears the class’s three “gyaru” girls playing a game… with a penalty dare. The loser, Nanami, has to ask Yoshin on a date, and date him for a month. They don’t spot Yoshin, who quickly goes home and does what any other red blooded high school introvert would do: he hops on the internet and asks his gaming buddies, who consist of 1) confident adult guy with good advice (that he says he just looked up on Google) and 2) teenage girl who clearly has a crush on him telling him to reject her at once. He does not, though, and he and Nanami start to date. And, by an amazing series of coincidences, they fall for each other almost instantly! Is this some sort of manga or something?

As I hinted above, the flaw in this series is that everything goes ridiculously well for Yoshin. Despite being an introvert, having a poor self-image, and only having black clothes, he’s kind, listens to others, and can be incredibly confident when he wants to. As for Nanami, she’s a shy big-breasted gyaru with no experience dating men and she has a secret side that wears glasses and looks more frumpy. In other words, she’s practically a walking fetish. But she’s nice, and sweet, and overenthusiastic, and possibly a bit naive. The series manages to work on pure charm, and also because it embraces the ridiculousness of its premise. (Nanami has two friends. One is dating her stepbrother, the other is dating a guy 12 years older than her. They both sound like they need spinoffs.) Even meeting her parents goes well, mostly as these two are never going to have sex even if they are already practically proposing marriage.

If you want realism, look elsewhere. If you want a sweet romcom where everyone acts like they stepped off the screen of Kimi Ga Nozumo Eien, this will do fine. And it’s only four volumes, which seems just about right.