Yashiro-kun’s Guide to Going Solo: After Story

By Dojyomaru and Kou Kusaka. Released in Japan as “Yashiro-kun no Ohitori-sama Kouza” by Overlap Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Andria McKnight.

Allow me to quote the end of my review of Yashiro-kun’s Guide to Going Solo: “This is a single volume – it wouldn’t work as a continuing series.” And now there’s a second volume, and it’s FINE, I guess, but after reading it I still stand by that sentence. This book did not need to be written. It sort of reminds me of what Nisioisin said about Nisemonogatari, where he claims to have written it for fun and never intended it to be published. Now, I’m fairly sire that’s bullshit in regards to the Monogatari Series, but this book has the same feel. There’s tons of in-jokes and references (yes, Souma from Realist Hero shows up again), there’s lots of meandering cute conversations, and we get to see more of the girl who was the “mystery” of the first book. But there’s no real plot here, because the series has nowhere further to go. Not even a flashforward showing married with children can really help there. It is a good, but superfluous, book.

After said flashforward, we get the bulk of the book, which involves a field trip to Kamakura. During this trip, everyone has to form a group, so we get Yashiro and Nue, Kanon and Chikaze, and Yukito and that new girl, Yuzuki. That said, the group has to prove they’re together at the start and end of the day, but in between can do whatever they want. So everyone breaks off to do things separately… but ends up in groups of two regardless. Kanon and Nue end up traveling to a hot spring together, Yashiro and Chikaze go on a mountain hike, and Yukito and Yuzuki go on what is totally not a date. In the end, fun is had and they all return home, with the main thing happening being that Kanon has gotten Nue to open up a little more to her.

There is some good characterization here, though as with the previous book it sometimes suffers because of its odd premise (loner nerds are now admired while popular kids are pitied, in case you’d forgotten). After discovering that Yashiro actually has had a girlfriend all along, the two girls who were falling for him have to get over him. Kanon does this pretty much immediately, and her scenes with Nue were probably the book’s highlight. Chikaze takes longer, and has to have it ground into her head a bit how soppy Yashiro is for his girlfriend before she lets it go. Also, some of the in-jokes really land well – I loved Yashiro and Nue imagining what would have happened if Nue had met Kanon before she met Yashiro, and the answer is “this would be a Manga Time Kirara series instead”.

The author wants to write more, but admits that this does not sell nearly as well as Realist Hero, so it’s unlikely. If you like plotless meandering with cute teenagers, this is a good read. But was this trip really necessary?

Yashiro-kun’s Guide to Going Solo

By Dojyomaru and Kou Kusaka. Released in Japan as “Yashiro-kun no Ohitori-sama Kouza” by Overlap Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Andria Cheng-McKnight.

Authors, of course, read other authors, and are influenced by them. The book in, say, isekai books, or villainess books, etc. is not JUST publishers trying to milk the latest cash cow, it also stems from authors reading a title and thinking “what would happen if I tried this instead?”. And it’s the same with the author of How a Realist hero Rebuilt the Kingdom, who notes in the Afterword that he wrote this book heavily influenced by titles like My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong, As I Expected. Though honestly, it reads more like a Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki. Our male lead is a loner who sits by himself in the classroom. We also have the popular girl, part of her cool clique, etc. you know the two of them are going to be the focus. Which is… sort of accurate. Because this is not really a story, it’s more of a thought experiment. How much you enjoy it might depend how much you like those.

We are in a world where so many people have been reading high school “fix it” romcoms that the power balances have shifted a bit. Suddenly loners are admired for their ability to not conform, and the popular kids are seen as having to force themselves to fit in. Yashiro is one of those loners, and he’s approached by the popular girl Kanon. She’s been forcing herself to fit into her group seamlessly, and it’s not working well. She wants to learn from him how to enjoy doing things by herself. Despite being somewhat baffled by this, he agrees, ans the two of them start confabbing on things like studying at a karaoke place, going to really nice public baths and soaking by yourself, etc. Then her sporty friend Ido approaches Yashiro, at first to make sure he’s not trying anything weird with Kanon, but then to get her own lessons in enjoying time by herself. Then a new transfer student arrives… when does this end?

As a book, without its main conceit, this is just OK. The world feels like a bizarre, conflictless alternate universe (it’s by the author of Realist Hero, and indeed a crossover available to J-Novel Club subscribers indicates this happens at the same time as Souma is going to high school there). However, as I read it I began to notice someone else outside of the field of the book’s vision. It did not take me very long to realize what was going on, but it’s not the sort of trick where the joy is in guessing it, it’s the sort where it works better when you’re in on it. The “missing” character became my favorite in the book, which is why I was happy when (and the author has done this before) the afterword was actually a midword, and the 2nd chunk of the book was a retelling of the series from their perspective. It also shows that the author was reading more than just Oregairu, because the 2nd part of this book is the current wave of “sugar sweet romance” types, and boy is it sweet.

This is a single volume – it wouldn’t work as a continuing series. And you have to make a few logical leaps to get to the “Oh, nerds are admired and cool kids are pitied” worldview it takes. But overall, I really loved its lead couple, and the trick behind them.