My Friend’s Little Sister Has It In for Me!, Vol. 10

By mikawaghost and tomari. Released in Japan as “Tomodachi no Imouto ga Ore ni dake Uzai” by GA Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Alexandra Owen-Burns.

This is a flashback volume, as Akiteru explains to an increasingly despairing Mashiro exactly how he first met Iroha and started the game company. As such, as you can imagine, Mashiro barely appears in it, though she does get many of the funniest moments. Just as the “main” series ends each chapter with a conversation between Akiteru and Ozuma, this one ends them with a conversation between Akiteru and Mashiro… as Mashiro stares in disbelief at the fact that the boy she loves was starring in a wacky harem comedy long before she ever came back into his life. I’ve talked before about how the series seems to abuse her for the laughs, especially since she’s clearly not the winning girl, but there’s no denying it’s funny. Also funny are Akiteru’s deadpan reactions to all of this. Past or present, Akiteru is hopelessly, incurably earnest – and as the cliffhanger ending shows us, that may end up being his downfall in the long run.

As you might be able to tell by that cover, Iroha was not always the teasing girl in love with her sempai that she is today. Akiteru has become friends with Ozuma, which means he naturally meets his little sister as well. The siblings… don’t NOT get along, but definitely seem off – they barely interact with each other. Unfortunately, Akiteru also finds out that Iroha might be interested in joining a gang, and, because that’s the sort of person he is, resolves to try to stop this so she can stay on the straight and narrow. Things immediately go wrong when he runs into the gang’s leader… Otoi, who obviously has a deeper meaning to what she’s doing but finding out what that is will require more investigation… as well as pretending to be Otoi’s boyfriend.

The big surprise here might be that we meet a brand new supporting character, she plays a major role, and then we basically never see her again, as she does not appear in the main series. Asagi is a girl with major musical talent but comes from a very poor family, and being in Otoi’s “gang” allows her to be loaned an expensive guitar with which she can ply her trade on the streets busking. Her personality seems very familiar… deliberately, as it turns out, and she makes a nice contrast with Iroha, who is (rightly) very mistrustful of this friend of her brother’s who seems to be stalking her and far too invested in her life. That said, you can also clearly see why she falls for him – his earnestness is attractive as well as creepy, and also he’s basically found a way to make her dream come true (with the help of Otoi, who fills the deus ex machina role in this book handily). Iroha has genuine talent, and I think even her mother has to admit it.

The question is, will her mother destroy Akiteru’s dreams in order to advance her daughter’s? Stay tuned, because we’re caught up with Japan, and there’s no new volume there just yet.

My Friend’s Little Sister Has It In for Me!, Vol. 9

By mikawaghost and tomari. Released in Japan as “Tomodachi no Imouto ga Ore ni dake Uzai” by GA Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Alexandra Owen-Burns.

I’m not sure how much longer this series has to go in Japan – Vol. 10 just came out in October there – but I suspect this series is not going to get beyond Vol. 12 at the most, as it’s really starting to wrap everything up. Basically, all the secrets that everyone has been hiding come out here, and come out very publicly. In some cases this is a good thing. We’ve watched Mashiro’s character development from the start of the series, and here we see why she writes and what she takes inspiration from. She’s jealously guarded her own incredibly popular work because she worries others will change it and that it won’t be hers anymore, but coming to terms with her feelings for Akiteru has made her back off on that – and on the fake relationship, which she breaks because she feels it’s holding her back on the chances of a real relationship. She gets some of the best bits in this book… but is still probably coming in 2nd of 2.

The class has a free day, which is good because Akiteru got no sleep the night before as Mashiro, as I mentioned above, breaks up with him. That said, she’s now taking him out on a date to the not-Disneyworld theme park… you know, the one run by Iroha’s mother. Who happens to be there, and gives them free “extra special guest” passes. Of course, they’re followed by Midori, who is still fairly broken up about her rejected confession. Meanwhile, Mizuki takes Iroha to the set where they’re filming, and there they run into Otoi, who does not like Mizuki very much and it shows. After this, they too end up at the theme park, where Mizuki has a meeting. As Mashiro and Akiteru deal with a very scary haunted mansion… erm, sorry, ghost mansion… Iroha also ends up in the same mansion. How many dates is Akiteru going to have, anyway?

The best character in this volume may be Otoi, whose bluntness helps to cut through the aura of bullshit that everyone else around her carries, even if we still don’t know her first name (it’s implied to make people think of toilets). As mentioned above, Mashiro gets a great character development book, but in terms of romance it comes up short – Akiteru thinks they’re on a “real” date, whereas she thinks that they, the creators of a popular horror game, are here for research. It’s funny, but in a bittersweet way. Less funny is Iroha’s cliffhanger. The relationship between Iroha and her mother has always had an air of “final boss” to it, and here we see that Iroha is so terrified of her that when it comes time to admit out loud what she wants to do with her life, she runs away. It’s actually rather depressing.

This does sort of wrap up the arc from last time, but it also has a cliffhanger that promises us that the next book will be a flashback showing us how Akiteru and Iroha first met. After that, we basically have only two plotlines to resolve, as I said. This is a solid series, but I admit I’m more in it for the drama now than the wacky teasing.

My Friend’s Little Sister Has It In for Me!, Vol. 8

By mikawaghost and tomari. Released in Japan as “Tomodachi no Imouto ga Ore ni dake Uzai” by GA Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Alexandra Owen-Burns.

This is not a bad volume in the series by any means, and I had fun reading it. But. There’s a definite sense of the volume treading water a bit, and it becomes apparent fairly early on that this is going to be a multi-volume arc, which means that the hints of bad things going down are all deferred to the next book. What we’re left with is mostly an examination of the character of Midori. We’ve seen her as a supporting character before, and she’s tied to the plot in several ways: she’s Sumire’s sister, she’s head of the drama club, and, most importantly for this volume, she’s developed a massive crush on Akiteru. Which is driving her nuts, because she’s a stickler for rules, and one of the biggest rules is “don’t fall in love with a guy when he’s dating another girl.” And Akiteru and Mashiro are totally dating. Right?

As with Strike the Blood, this is a series that has only one character on the cover art, and it’s always been Iroha. So it is here as well, but as you’d expect, she gets left behind early on as the rest of Akiteru’s class goes on their school trip. (If you thought “she’ll show up later anyway, well, you know how to write cliched romcoms, congrats.) As for the trip itself, Akiteru is in a group with Ozuma and Mashiro, but also three others that he knows less well; the hyperactive Takamiya, the shy Maihama, and the muscle guy Suzuki. They’ll visit temples, they’ll have baths at the hotel, they’ll do party games, and they’ll try in vain to help Maihama with her love life. All the while, though, Midori is having a massive crisis.

The plot with Midori is actually handled quite well, with only a minimum amount of standard romcom shenanigans. She’s a nice girl, and it takes most of the book for her to realize her feelings and act on them. Akiteru is also nice, but also a dense light novel protagonist, so he’s still working out what love is, but Midori gives him a major hint that might help things along. (If you’re wondering which girl will actually win, I advise you to look at the cover art of the 8 books you have.) That said, this ends up being an important book for Mashiro as well. She’s grown more quietly confident, and while she still hates social situations, she can actually handle them without help now. As such, she decides to level the whole playing field by asking her father to let her break up her “fake” relationship with Akiteru so she can pursue him for real. That said, she does this without clearing it with Akiteru first, so… as I said, there are still SOME shenanigans in a series like this.

We leave off with a set of double cliffhangers, all of which promise more high-stakes drama in the next book. Which leaves this book feeling rather uneventful and flat, even though it isn’t really.