Sasaki and Peeps: An Unidentified Flying Object from Outer Space Arrives and Earth Is Under Attack! ~The Extraterrestrial Lifeform That Came to Announce Mankind’s End Appears to Be Dangerously Sensitive~

By Buncololi and Kantoku. Released in Japan as “Sasaki to Pi-chan” by Media Factory. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Alice Prowse.

One of the tropes of this series, which is not exactly welcome but I’ve been able to deal with it, is that Sasaki is a main character, in his late 20s/early 30s, who accumulates either underage girls or girls who look like underage girls, some of whom are either in love or dangerously obsessed with him. This is brought home once more in this volume, when he shows up at Hoshizaki’s apartment and her younger sister notes that he now has ANOTHER underage girl with him, and, very sensibly, feels she cannot trust him around her sister. As such, I appreciate Sasaki’s narration spelling out that, even if he’s not explicitly asexual, that he is at least totally uninterested in sex with anyone right now. This is not going to reassure the younger sister, nor is it stopping Elsa from being engaged to him (which happens here), but it at least assures the READER. The author is here to jam pack this story with as many genres as possible, but harem is not near the top.

Picking up where the last book left off, there’s a UFO that the entire world are dealing with, and Sasaki, Hoshizaki and Futarishizuka are assigned to do something about it. As it turns out, a lot of groups have made their way to the alien, and are being quizzed – and then rejected. Unfortunately, thanks to Hoshizaki trying to define the word “lonely”, the alien realizes that she’s suddenly overcome with that feeling, and decides to try to destroy the Earth because she can’t handle it. Fortunately, this does not happen, mostly as the alien (who is basically “robot girl” for the sake of the tropes, and is called Type Twelve) gloms on to both Hoshizaki and Kurosu, the neighbor girl, who are trying to help her make friends and find happiness when she has no concept of such things. Boy, sure hope one of them doesn’t get kidnapped by bad guys, that would ruin everything…

Since my last review, we’ve had the anime of Sasaki and Peeps, and it was… OK, I guess. It’s getting a second series, though that’s mostly out of necessity given the nature of the plot. One complaint I saw was that the neighbor girl was pointless, and, well, yeah, none of her stuff becomes relevant till Book 3, so of course she is. Because Sasaki and Peeps is a genre mashup, in general the more genres it mashes the better. And this volume has almost everything, with the fantasy isekai aspect being the only one getting short shrift here. Alien robot girl searching for emotions and super powerful is not the most original of ideas, but originality is the opposite of what this series needs. Everyone gets to do cool things. Futarishizuka gets to be an adorable asshole. Hoshizaki is tsundere. Neighbor Girl (look, he doesn’t call her Kurosu so why should I?) is still terrible at social interaction. Sasaki is a bit of a narrative blank (Futarishizuka calls him “flaccid”, which, ouch), but I can deal with it. We want to see what crazy thing will happen next. That’s that point of the series.

Next time we might see the “island cut off from communication” trope, which should be fun. Till then, enjoy all the cute girls and be reassured Sasaki has no interest in any of them.

Sasaki and Peeps: Betrayals, Conspiracies, and Coups d’État! The Gripping Conclusion to the Otherworld Succession Battle ~Meanwhile, You Asked for It! It’s Time for a Slice-of-Life Episode in Modern Japan, but We Appear to Be on Hard Mode~

By Buncololi and Kantoku. Released in Japan as “Sasaki to Pi-chan” by Media Factory. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Alice Prowse.

The joy of this series is the genre mashup, of course, but that can also make it very hard to take at times. When the author does a genre, they go all in. This means the fantasy world is filled with throne wars, elves, dragons, and last minute plot twists. The “psychic” part of the story involves people using powers to control others and create chaos all around them. It also veers into a sentai show here, and it’s very deliberate. The Neighbor Girl’s supernatural part is very much standard “death game”, even though she and her demonic partner don’t get to wipe out anyone this book. But Neighbor Girl (who we get a last name for at last – Kurosu) also brings another sub-genre to the plate, which is hideous abuse. That’s the “slice of life” in this volume’s subtitle, and it absolutely goes off the rails when she, Sasaki and Futarishizuka attend the wake from hell. This is getting an anime soon, and I imagine making this all cohere seamlessly will be a nightmare.

Sasaki has a lot on his plate. He’s attending the aforementioned wake, where we learn that apparently Neighbor Girl’s family has money, but also that literally everyone in the family despises her; he’s dealing with the aftermath of the sea monster from the last book, as he and Hoshizaki are almost lured to America with the promise of a ton of money, stopped only by their complete lack of English skills. An unknown enemy decided to mind control people into causing a riot near Hoshizaki’s apartment, presumably to do to it what they did with Sasaki’s old place; and there is, of course, the fantasy world, where it appears that the first prince has betrayed the nation and is collaborating with the enemy. Can he even find time to settle down and get some actual sleep? He can in the fantasy world, but certainly not in Japan.

I tend to go on about Neighbor Girl too much in these reviews, and her story vanishes after the first third of the book, so I will just note that that slap made me scream out loud, and also that she is a ticking time bomb that Sasaki is ignoring but Futarishizuka certainly isn’t. We do get to learn a lot more about Hoshizaki in this book, though I suspect she would not be happy with that fact. Unsurprisingly, at school she seems to have no friends and looks the stereotypical bookish nerd – her overly made up face on the job is the attempt to look “grown up”. Her younger sister straight up thinks her part-time job is sex work, and Sasaki has to reassure her while also giving nothing away about what the job actually is. She’s also clearly got a crush on Sasaki, but is sadly running a very distant third, behind Futarishizuka (easily the front runner) and Neighbor Girl.

This is a good book, and has an excellent plot twist near the end I did not expect. It’s also a book that rewards close character analysis, which I like. If you can put up with the occasional lolicon joke, it’s a definite winner. And it appears next book we’re adding aliens.

Sasaki and Peeps: The Psychics and the Magical Girl Drag the Death Game Crew into the Fight ~Alert! Giant Sea Monster Approaching Japan~

By Buncololi and Kantoku. Released in Japan as “Sasaki to Pi-chan” by Media Factory. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Alice Prowse.

I observed as I was reading this new volume of Sasaki and Peeps that I felt the author had read a lot of the Bakemonogatari Series. Their writing style isn’t anything like NISIOISIN, but this is a story of a guy who saved the world while being surrounded by underage girls, and it also has a tendency sometimes to actively drive its audience away. There’s a scene halfway through the book where Sasaki is trying to rescue the first prince, a rival to Sasaki’s group in the other world, and comes across the aftermath of a sexual assault, which is described in detail. This then turns out to be a trick to get him to lower his guard, and what follows is sort of mind control but also involves homoerotic flourishes and… just describing the scene is difficult. I felt like screaming out, WHY? And yet the rest of the book is quite entertaining. This is, in my mind, very much the same experience I sometimes have with Bakemonogatari, especially when Araragi molests Mayoi for the lulz.

After managing to resolve the cliffhanger stand-off from the previous book, Sasaki, Hoshizaki and Futarishizuka end up spending most of the book dealing with, as the title might give away, a giant sea monster. Sasaki pretty much feels he has to deal with it, as Peeps confirms the monster is actually a dragon from the other world, somehow brought over here. It draws in a worldwide response, which not only brings in Sasaki and company, but the magical girl from previous books, who works with her five-person magical girl team to try to destroy it. Unfortunately, bullets can’t stop it, rockets can’t stop it, we may have to use nuclear force! And then of course there’s also the death battle between angels and demons, which ends up affecting Sasaki very personally when his apartment building is bombed.

As always with this series, I find the neighbor most fascinating, even though it’s been four books and we’re no closer to learning her name. (She in turn does not refer to Sasaki by his name, even after she heard other people use it.) She’s growing more confident and outgoing now that she’s around Abaddon all the time – frankly, he’s a better romantic match for her than Sasaki, though I wouldn’t wish that on him. The aforementioned bomb was meant to kill her, and does kill her mother. Sasaki spends the rest of the book thinking that her somewhat remote attitude is due to processing her grief. In reality, she doesn’t even think of her mother a single time after the bombing. This is not unexpected, given her mother’s abuse of the neighbor girl, but Sasaki’s idea of what she’s like versus her own POV (she’s the only other character who gets POV narration) can be amazing.

As for who Sasaki will end up with in his harem of little girls and girls who look like little girls, if I were a betting man I’d say Futarishizuka, but this volume also makes it clear he has no real romantic or sexual drive at all. That’s not what this series is about. It’s about mashing genres together, making salaryman jokes, and occasionally throwing in truly appalling scenes to weed out the casuals. If that floats your boat, read on.