Rascal Does Not Dream of Siscon Idol

By Hajime Kamoshida and Keji Mizoguchi. Released in Japan as “Seishun Buta Yarou wa Siscon Idol no Yume wo Minai” by Dengeki Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Andrew Cunningham.

Last time I said that the book felt a bit quieter than the first two, and that goes double for this one, which I definitely enjoyed but which feels a little bit insubstantial compared to the previous books. Part of this could be that there does not seem to be any sort of danger of things being catastrophic if things don’t work out as with previous books. Nodoka’s issues do matter, don’t get me wrong, and I feel for her, but you are 100% not surprised at the solution to this particular adolescence syndrome, and honestly I feel it might have been able to be solved even earlier. That said, having it drag on does help to really hammer home the crux of those issues, and the fact that if there’s going to be any changing and growing being done, it’s going to have to be on Nodoka’s side – Mai, despite being as blunt as her boyfriend at times, is doing just fine.

As with most of this series, the book picks up where the previous one left off, with Sakuta confronted with a Mai who isn’t. When “Nodoka” also shows up, clearly with Mai’s personality, it rapidly becomes clear what’s happened. The issues involved are fairly straightforward – Nodoka and Mai have different mothers, and Nodoka’s mother wants her to be a top idol just as Mai is a top actress, which has led to stress. So Nodoka has run away and swapped bodies. Turning to Mai for comfort is not really working out for her, as Mai is not a comfort sort of girl. Plus this means she has to hang around with Sakuta all the time, who is… well, see the previous three books. She’s astonished Mai is going out with him. Unfortunately, as with prior “syndromes”, knowing the issues doesn’t solve the problem. What’s worse, they each have to take on each other’s career, and, well, one of them is much better at it than the other.

This book emphasizes that family is not something you can narrow down to “I love them” or “I hate them” in absolute terms, and that’s the book’s highlight, as I think it does a good job showing that. Midway through, Sakuta has a very awkward dinner with his father, and we get to see exactly why he feels rather ambiguous about him. At the same time, he’s also searching for thoughts on what being a parent is like to help Nodoka, and gets good, if oblique, advice. Nodoka, fitting with the “annoying little sister” box she sort of falls into, can be sympathetic, especially watching Mai in Nodoka’s body being an even better idol than she normally is, but I 100% agree with Sakuta that her over the top reaction of walking into the ocean to “drown” herself, knowing he’ll stop her, is really irritating. Fortunately, the resolution is cute. That said, one thing this book does do that won’t snap back is Mai and Sakuta’s relationship, which is now public. Fortunately, Mai is very good at damage control.

The next book’s title implies we’re going to focus on Sakuta’s own little sister next time, as she seems to be wanting to return to school… maybe. I get the feeling it will be a bit less relaxed than this book. Still, this is a decent enough volume, especially if you love Sakuta simply saying whatever he’s thinking at the time, no matter how bad it will be for him.

Rascal Does Not Dream of Logical Witch

By Hajime Kamoshida and Keji Mizoguchi. Released in Japan as “Seishun Buta Yarou wa Logical Witch no Yume wo Minai” by Dengeki Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Andrew Cunningham.

The first two books in this series were not exactly loud and obnoxious, but they were fairly action-packed and things happened in them. By contrast, the third book, focusing on Sakuta’s friend Rio, is a quiet, muted affair, which fits well with the nature of her Adolescence Syndrome. Indeed, hers is the most relatable one that we’ve seen to date, dealing with issues that would affect a number of other girls her age. It also makes a lot of sense that, despite literally being split into two, both Rios are not all that far apart – this is not an example of an evil twin here, and even the things that the non-glasses wearing Rio do are something Rio started before the split. As such, Sakuta’s role here is mostly to listen, and occasionally yell, because Rio has possibly read too much science fiction and thinks the only way that this can end is if one of her two selves dies.

There are, of course, other things going on in Sakuta’s life besides Rio’s cloning blues. Mai is back to work with a vengeance, meaning that she is not really available to date him all that much – and when the two of them are spotted, she’s reminded by her agency that the fans would go ballistic if they heard she was dating a guy, which… well, yes, is true. What’s more, the girl he fell in love with from the past is still in the present, only she’s 12, and we’re STILL not sure what’s going on there. We do find out that she has a heart condition, which I expect will be fairly important and/or tragic later on. His sister is still a shut-in and acting much younger than her age. His best friend’s girlfriend still despises him, though she also proves to be a major help here as well. And what’s this idol group that we hear about?

But yes, for the most part curing Rio merely involves being there for Rio, learning about her past as an early bloomer, and her somewhat alarming present posting salacious selfies to an Instagram-ish site. There’s a somewhat awkward explanation for this from Sakuta’s annoying reporter friend, but the cycle of elation and loathing is one that feels a bit TOO real for a series that tends to rely on supernatural phenomenon that are secretly psychological damage. And of course there’s also her crush on Yuuma, which is awkward, as I suspect nearly everyone reading this or watching the anime would rather that Yuuma be dating Rio. But… Yuuma is not in love with Rio, even though they’re best friends. We don’t hear it (i.e. Sakuta doesn’t), but it’s implied she confessed to him at the end and was rejected. And, fortunately, no Rios were killed in the making of this book. It is a nice, bittersweet and calm ending.

Well, aside from the cliffhanger, which seems to imply that a bodyswap is the next crisis we’ll face. Till then, this is one of the better written light novels I’ve seen for some time, assuming you can put up with Sakuta’s personality. Well, he is a rascal, after all.

Rascal Does Not Dream of Petite Devil Kohai

By Hajime Kamoshida and Keji Mizoguchi. Released in Japan as “Seishun Buta Yarou wa Chibi Devil Kohai no Yume wo Minai” by Dengeki Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Andrew Cunningham.

This book had several hills to climb in order to win me over, to be honest. I enjoyed the romance in the first volume, and was not fond of it being torpedoed right off the bat in the cliffhanger. The heroine of this book, Tomoe, did not make all that good an impression on me in the first one. Time loop stories make me vaguely uncomfortable, hitting a certain level of “I get embarrassed reading this” in me. And fake dating stories also rub me the wrong way in actual books, though oddly I’m fine with it in fanfiction, mostly as it almost always leads to real dating. That said, it’s a testament to the writing skill of the author that I was able to enjoy the book regardless, and most of my objections stated above were put to rest fairly easily. (The one heroine per book thing is something I fear I will have to get used to.)

The time loop is helped by it only being relevant at the start and end of the book. Sakuta is caught in a loop of the same day… for three days, and then, when it breaks, he’s basically in the worst possible situation. This is due to the heroine of this book, Tomoe, who is not a literal devil but is a stand in for “Laplace’s Demon”. We saw her in book one kicking Sakuta’s butt (and getting kicked in the butt in return, something that Sakuta, being who he is, brings up over and over again in this book), and now she has a problem, one that she tried to get Sakuta to help with once the time loop breaks. In order to fend off the attention of another guy, they have to pretend to date for the rest of the semester. Of course, Sakuta is in love with Mai, which makes things just a bit difficult. And that’s not even getting into Tomoe hitting the “fanfiction” part of the trope and wanting to turn her fake dating real.

As with the first book, the main reason to read the series is Sakuta, who is both a very nice , upstanding guy and a completely terrible lech who just has no filter at all. This book provides a different heroine to react to this, and while Mai was basically doing her best Senjogahara impersonation, Tomoe is the sort of blush, stomp her feet and say “Geez!” at his antics. Tomoe is far more likeable in this book when she gets the entire novel to sell herself, and I really enjoyed her backstory, which also tied into the reason why Sakuta, who is still trying to tell Mai he loves her, agrees to do this at all. There are hints of future plot developments – the third book seems to feature Rio, and there’s some setup for that here, namely her not-so-hidden crush on her friend Yuuma, and there’s another shocking cliffhanger ending that will no doubt play out in future books somehow. And there’s a lot of fun humor, mostly because Sakuta exists.

To sum up, I was wary of this book, but it ended up being a lot of fun. I am definitely getting the next in the series.