Written by C. C. Cooper on 21 May 2021
Distributor J-Novel Club • Author/Artist mikawaghost/tomari • Price £5.05
It's been about three minutes since Akiteru received his first ever love confession, from the girl he's pretending to be going out with, no less, and he's having a mental meltdown over how to handle it. His problems compound when his team's artist, who works full-time as a teacher, cries, begs, and whines for his help in saving the drama club from disbandment. And then, because he didn't have enough on his plate already, Iroha starts acting like a normal student around him, which should be great, except Iroha isn't a normal student, so it creeps him out.
Having multiple conflicts in a single volume is a tricky horse to stay from bucking. Done well, it can make for a complex and engaging read, but done not well, the story comes off as having the attention span of a gnat hyped up on cocaine. It's with deep regret that I pronounce that vol. 2 of My Friend's Little Sister Wants It In Her is of the latter. It's a thrill when a protagonist gets handed an ever-growing laundry list of errands to run, but the make-or-break comes in how they handle those errands, and Akiteru opts to tackle things one at a time, which, while logical, doesn't make for the most stimulating narrative.
In between the two primary conflicts is an uncrossable gulf, with either plotline being an independent culture aware of the other's existence but doing no mingling. Akiteru doesn't take a lesson from answering his cousin's confession and apply it to salvaging the drama club, and there's no overlap where settling one affair screws over the other. Everything's much too clean and orderly to tease any hard drama from the story, so it feels like two novelettes which got intertwined during the printing process.
My Friend's Little Sister Wants Another To Join In earned two points of respect from me by acknowledging established light novel romcom tropes, then lost one of those points by playing those very tropes straight. This volume costs it that last point when it falls back on lazy character writing.
Too common of a fault in the medium is giving a character one trait and calling them fleshed out. He's a pervert, she's shy, he's nice, she's a psychopathic lesbian. My Friend's Little Sister Has Something She Wants To Stick In Me does avoid this, but that avoid is sinking close to vanishing entirely from that first clause because of Akiteru's obsession with efficiency. It was mentioned just shy enough of making you go, “Yeah, I get it,” in the first volume, but the second can't go four pages without Akiteru or one of his associates bringing it up. I get that streamlining things is his modus operandi, but it feels like the book is trying to make that his sole personality trait with the constant reminders, like it's retconing him before our very eyes. And, because of his watered down smartassery, I'm inclined to believe that's its very objective.
My favorite aspect of the first volume was Akiteru's unique, smarmy commentary. His way of taking mundane situations and contorting them into a comedy act made an otherwise stale story a delectable treat. This volume has its moments, and the two heroines get in some hilarious one-liners, but on the whole, the comedic style is largely exchanged for standard prose. It's not to the degree of The Devil Is A Part-Timer!, which utilized literary speech to describe the main character running out of money in his bank account but entirely abandoned that style by the third volume, but it is disheartening to see, like watching a beloved band put out increasingly horrible albums. And just to toss more fuel on this fire, the MIA style exasperates the first two criticisms, since comedy is a salve for mundanity.
Disappointing is the number one word I'd use to describe this volume. I did enjoy it, but just. Without Akiteru giving us his unique perspective on the world, this series loses most of its identity and consequentially reads like a generic romcom series—about love but lacking a heart. My Friend's Little Sister Asked To Put More In is backsliding down a hill I fear it won't get back up.
A part-time reviewer these days of video games.
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