The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten, Vol. 6

By Saekisan and Hanekoto. Released in Japan as “Otonari no Tenshi-sama ni Itsu no Ma ni ka Dame Ningen ni Sareteita Ken” by GA Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Nicole Wilder.

Sometimes all it takes is a little validation. For this entire series we’ve been watching Amane struggle to imagine anyone thinking of him in any positive way whatsoever, and we also got little flashes back to his past to show what happened to make him think this way. But now Mahiru is his girlfriend, and the two of them are a lovey-dovey couple, and all of a sudden he’s become a really amazing boyfriend, to an almost jaw-dropping degree. His tendency towards logically thinking things out and never being impulsive now allows him to, both consciously and unconsciously, seduce Mahiru completely. And frankly, thank God, because it was my main complaint with this series (and many others – a lot of these ‘sweet couple’ series have self-loathing as the guy’s main flaw). That said, that’s still one side of the equation. Mahiru’s past, of course, is arguably even worse, but – despite the last chapter in this particular volume – we have a ways to go before those demons are banished.

The first half of this book continues Amane and Mahiru’s visit to stay with his parents over summer break, and it’s basically a cavalcade of sweet moments, including looking at cute childhood moments, going shopping and buying cute outfits… and also settling things with one of his old best friends, who ended up abandoning him when everything went town in Amane’s past. (Amane’s response is, frankly, a bit logical and cold, but also very in character.) They then go back home and have summer homework… which everyone has done but Chitose, so it’s mostly an excuse to watch her suffer for humor purposes. And then it’s off to a festival, which is mostly there to have everyone realize that Amane is fully invested in Boyfriend Mode, and it can be terrifying. That said, family matters crop up at the end, as Mahiru’s father wants to meet… with Amane.

We do get suggestions of the ongoing plot with this series’ secondary couple, though the series is assuming you read the short story volume that came out right before this. It feels appropriate given this is a sweet love story between couples in high school that a lot of the conflict arises from parents, be it mild (too much teasing from Amane’s mother) to serious (everything about Mahiru’s childhood). Chitose’s issue falls somewhere in between the two, and is also easily the most relatable. She’s in love with her boyfriend and wants to make a life with him, but his father thinks she’s not good enough for him. I expect we may see more of that later on. As for Mahiru’s dad, there’s a lot of “I’m trying, but it’s a bit too late and I know it will make no difference” to this. Which, um, also feels very, very real to me. I wonder if the next major arc will involve Mahiru managing to come to terms with things?

There’s a whole lot of syrupy sweetness I just skipped over, because why review that? But trust me, it’s there. For those who enjoy “I got the perfect girlfriend” series.

The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten, Vol. 5.5

By Saekisan and Hanekoto. Released in Japan as “Otonari no Tenshi-sama ni Itsu no Ma ni ka Dame Ningen ni Sareteita Ken” by GA Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Nicole Wilder.

Oh dear, it’s a short story volume. Worse, it’s a short story volume that takes place entirely before the lead couple get together. So right after I write a review that basically says “I’m so glad we’re no longer frustrated waiting for these two dipshits to confess”, I get an entire book filled with scenes where these two dipshits are not confessing. So as you can imagine a majority of this volume is filled with short stories where our two leads clean the house, or cook a meal, or play a videogame, and pine for each other. If you enjoyed the earlier volumes, this is great for you, though unfortunately the author’s narrative voice can occasionally make both of them come across as a bit creepy some of the time. Fortunately there are three stories that aren’t about Amane and Mahiru’s relationship, and they actually have plot!

In among the stories I mentioned above, we get three others. The first is Mahiru’s perspective on her childhood, and so as you can imagine is rather sad and depressing. Sometimes trying to be the best so that your parents will notice you simply doesn’t work out. No amount of Angel is going to make her mother care. The second story has Chitose telling a curious Mahiro how she and Itsuki started to date, and it’s much more serious than you’d expect given Chitose’s entire vibe. She was all about track, and did not really care about anything else – but rejecting Itsuki’s confession leads to unforeseen consequences. Then we hear about how Itsuki and Amane became friends, which is also more serious than expected and relies on Amane’s terrible memory for faces.

The whole point of this series is that its two leads are ridiculously pure. Nothing is going to happen, especially in this book, where they aren’t even a couple yet. But it’s still being sold to GA Bunko readers, so a certain amount of horniness is required by publisher statute. As a result, you get a lot of times, pardon me, where you just want to yell at the writer “It’s OK to say erection!”. Several scenes in the book are blatantly Amane getting aroused around Mahiru and feeling embarrassed and awkward about it – the worst of which comes when she sees him, supposedly asleep (he’s faking) and rubbing his exposed stomach… then drifting lower. It really creates this … not quite a “moe gap”, but in that neighborhood, and it makes the two even sweeter, somehow. Still, it’s actually a surprise later in the book when Chitose says “boobs” – and Mahiru’s reaction to this is exactly like Amane’s. As for the serious stories, well, all four leads have gone through major events that have caused them to change the way they behave around others. For Itsuki and Chitose’s that’s been a net positive. Mahiru and Amane are still working their way towards that.

So, short story volume. Fluffy, sweet, a few deep things. Horny, but in a Saturday Morning Cartoon sort of way. Back to being a couple next time.

The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten, Vol. 5

By Saekisan and Hanekoto. Released in Japan as “Otonari no Tenshi-sama ni Itsu no Ma ni ka Dame Ningen ni Sareteita Ken” by GA Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Nicole Wilder.

There is a trope sometimes known as Moonlighting Syndrome, named after the 80s TV show, which refers to a series failing because the romantic couple got together and all the tension was removed from the show. Leaving aside that this is not at all why Moonlighting failed, I think it’s a trope that is honored more in the breach than in the observance. It also depends on the genre. If this were a standard harem comedy, with Amane attracting the love of five or six different girls, then the one where he picks one would definitely be the final volume. Fortunately, this is not that, it’s a syrupy sweet relationship book. In fact, the thing that separates this from the pack is how long it’s actually taken Amane and Mahiru to get together. But at last Mahiru has managed to convey her feelings and the two of them are dating, and so now we can finally answer the age old question the above trope asks: now what?

Well, first of all, they’ve got to let the school know that they’re dating. OK, they don’t HAVE to do this, but given how much they accidentally flirt with each other constantly now, it will become rapidly apparent anyway. Surprisingly, it goes very smoothly – Amane is serious and withdrawn rather than a “loser protagonist”, so doesn’t get as much backlash as expected for dating the Angel of the school. Plus she’ll kill anyone who tries to get on his case about it with an angelic (fake) smile. After this there’s two more important relationship goals to conquer. Going to the local pool, which will involve swimsuits and attractive bodies. And going back home to visit Amane’s parents, which will involve a lot of Amane getting teased, but also an encounter that will hopefully let him close the book on his past trauma.

Generally speaking, whenever you have these “my personality is broken because of kids in my past”, you are inevitably going to meet those kids again. So the question is will it be the “it turns out we were really sad about what we did and want to apologize” version or the “no, we really are massive assholes” version. Angel Next Door takes the latter tack, and it’s probably for the best. Amane’s psychological damage has been what’s held the romance back in the first place, so having it be due to a misunderstanding wouldn’t have worked. That said, instead of a past trauma, we have a new enemy for readers: Amane and Mahiru’s own innate pureness. It takes the entire volume for them to get around to a kiss on the lips, and you get the sense that any sexual activity will be long after this series has finished. This is syrupy sweet romance, but that means you have to put up with them being two massive cinnamon rolls.

So still decent, if you can put up with the two leads being gaga over each other but rarely getting past the “holding hands” part.