My Friend’s Little Sister Has It In for Me!, Vol. 7

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.

Sometimes you can concentrate so hard on your goal that you lose sight of basic things like resting, recuperating, and daily life chores. This is the dilemma we see Akiteru facing here, as he realizes that he needs to have the game team do even more if he wants to get popular… but they’re honestly working pretty hard already. Does genius still work when it’s too tired to function? What’s more… can he really rely on just his core team of brilliant specialists? Most game studios would use more people and sacrifice a but of quality, y’know? And it does not really help that he’s having to deal with his fake girlfriend’s mom hiding out at her daughter’s home, or his friend’s little sister’s mom also moving back home for a while. they both seem very aware of the relationships between the group. In fact, honestly, I think the mothers between them have both figured out everything. Which is probably not very good news for Iroha.

So yeah, Akiteru’s got problems. Leaving aside Mom #1 and Mom #2, both of whom seem to be very suspicious of him in general, he’s running up against the fact that their game has plateaued in terms of popularity. Now he’s got to think of other ways to get around that, and do it fast, as the class trip is coming up soon. He could try getting a popular Instagram star to be seen playing their game… except she’s a incoherent mess of a girl. He could try getting his illustrator to create even more really awesome art for the series… except doing that, combined with planning for the class trip, ends up hospitalizing her. He could try doing what Iroha’s mom suggests and actually hire other people for his niche game company composed only of geniuses… but that would involve compromising his vision. What’s the best solution?

This is a solid volume. The romance, oddly, feels a bit on the back burner here, partly as there’s not much that can go on with both moms present. That said, Book 8 promises a lot of Akiteru and Mashiro, as Iroha, being a first year, cannot go on the class trip with them. (And yes, I am fully expecting the author to get around that somehow.) Most of this volume focuses on the game and Akiteru’s future plans for it. It’s not surprising to see the direction he takes, but it is rather relieving, as I was worried he was close to napping. This is not a major game for a major company – that’s his goal. It’s a indie project. And the game DOES have enough fans so he can get away with it. I was also amused at Mashiro’s mom and the revelation about what’s going on with her and her husband, which is both hilarious and also twistedly heartwarming. I am really looking forward to seeing what happens with her and Iroha, especially as the moms clearly have a bitter rivalry of their own.

So yeah, good romcom stuff. Anime coming soon, I believe.

My Friend’s Little Sister Has It In for Me!, Vol. 6

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 honestly may be the best volume in the series to date. We get a plotline that was completely unpredictable and fun, development of the ongoing love triangle, a lot of great humor, seeing Akiteru try to be proactive and sympathetic but missing the point a good 3/4 of the time, and while the book does have a bit of Sumire in it, she’s mostly in school and forced to be in teacher mode, and thus no shotacon jokes for the second book in a row! The series continues to do a very good job of making everyone likeable – even Akiteru, despite being the classic punchable oblivious guy. It helps that he’s so supposedly “logical” and matter of fact, and thus a different type from the usual pleasant potato. The whole thing ends up in a beauty contest, which features gorgeous pictures of Iroha (in a dress) and Mashiro (in a suit). Sadly, I must report that the illustrator and publisher are goddamn cowards.

It’s the culture festival, which means maid cafes, as well as the school beauty contest. Before that, though, there is the problem of Iroha, who is still freaking out over the fact that she can’t be friends with Mashiro AND be trying to win Akiteru’s heart at the same time. Taking Otoi’s advice to try to see things from the perspective of people other than her own, she spends most of the book acting out the “roles” of her friends and classmates, including Mashiro, Sumire, and Midori. Unfortunately, all of this is frustrating Akiteru, who is trying to demonstrate to Iroha that she can simply be herself and does not have to be the perfect honor student OR other people, she can be as annoying as she wants to be. She’s never going to agree to that, because her being annoying is a form of flirting reserved only for him. So there’s only one thing he can do, really: dress up as a woman and enter the beauty pageant to defeat her.

There is a large amount of this book devoted to Akiteru dressing up as a woman, including some good makeup tips, and it is remarked upon how gorgeous he looks as the end product (provided he doesn’t speak, something he manages to pull off. I actually flicked back and forth over the book three times to make sure I was not missing an obvious illustration. But no, this book is written for teenage boys, and they do not want to see boys in dresses. Feh. The highlight of the book, though, is the growing friendship between Iroha and Sasara, as it turns out most of the “rivalry” stuff was simply because Sasara saw that Iroha was wearing a mask and hated it. Getting her to remove it is fantastic, and it’s nice to see that, despite deliberately ignoring romance for the time being, Akiteru’s sense of what Iroha needs is probably accurate.

As is common with this series, we get a vicious cliffhanger at the end, and I suspect the next volume will make Akiteru very uncomfortable. Till then, this is excellent high school romantic comedy.

My Friend’s Little Sister Has It In for Me!, Vol. 5

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 series has a tendency to be very metatextual, and we certainly get a lot of that in this book. Everyone may not think that they’re in a light novel series, but they certainly know the way said series tend to go, and they’re noticing that all the things happening around Akiteru pretty much line up with those sort of plots. That’s not good news for him, as he’s supposed to be fake dating Mashiro, who has already not-fake confessed to him. His uncle is clearly very aware of the things going on in his life, especially the presence of Iroha, but for now seems to be content to give him enough rope to hang himself as long as he keeps making Mashiro happy. (Even if he is jealous of the little bastard.) As for Iroha herself, she should be reassured, given that in light novels her type tends to win rather than Mashiro’s type, but she is not. Are the others, a year older than she is, really going to abandon her?

So yes, Mashiro’s father, and Akiteru’s potential benefactor, has noticed that the fake dating part of the books has been left by the wayside almost since it began, mostly as Akiteru can’t quite bring himself to do it knowing she loves him for real. They’re going to have to try, though, and the upcoming festival seems like a good chance. Before that, though, Akiteru needs to continue his quest to find Iroha a friend who can take his place in her life (not realizing that this would be devastating to her). He may have found one in Sasara, Iroha’s classmate who is a classic “always comes in second to her” rival character who is also socially awkward. He may be on to something here. But that’s for later. For now, he has to pay attention to Mashiro on their fake date and not be a “piece of shit”.

First of all, the best possible news about this book: Sumire’s barely in it at all. Which means we get precisely zero shotacon jokes. Hooray! More seriously, Mashiro gets the focus for the first time since the second book, and she has all the hallmarks of the sweet, low-confidence girl that always comes in second in these harem genres. She’s trying her hardest here, determined to get stronger than she was as a kid (when she went to the same festival with Akiteru) and to outshine Iroha. But she may be running a bit late on that, because now that he’s suddenly realized that Iroha *can* be cute, Akiteru is leaning towards her almost unconsciously. Honestly, if it weren’t for the presence of Iroha’s mother, who will no doubt be the final boss, I’d say this series was ready to end by the next book. But that’s not happening.

So yes, fans of Mashiro will enjoy her here, and fans of Iroha… well, Iroha is the other protagonist, so you’re always happy. In any case, this remains a fun romcom, with Akiteru trying his best to logic love to death and failing.