Real progress towards sorting out the Goridian’s Knot of Madarame’s love life by the end of the volume. You’ll have to wade through a lot of waffling on the cast’s part to get there, though. That’s because ComiFest time has arrived again and everyone who is not Ogiue (she’s busy prepping her own doujinshi for sale) is getting ready to buy all of the fan-made comics they can at the convention. Hato is too, except that this time he’s sworn off picking up any BL (Boy’s Love) manga this time out. Realizing that the more he indulges in this particular fantasy, the stronger his feelings for Madarame become, the fudanshi decides to quit cold turkey before things get any more complicated. Meanwhile, American otaku Angela returns to stir the pot even more, Yajima makes an indirect play for Hato, and Kohsaka outlines the four romantic possibilities for Madarame.
Yes, we’ve got ourselves a real otaku soap opera here. I don’t mind the relationship drama all that much as the characters have been fleshed out quite well over these six (fifteen, in some cases) volumes. In short, Madarame is clueless and not assertive enough to allow this situation to escalate as it does in a reasonably believable fashion. That doesn’t stop me from thinking that he deserves to suffer that particular injury again at the end of this volume. A friend of mine pointed out a while back that Madarame is effectively stuck in a dating/hentai game scenario, and it’s made explicitly clear that’s what mangaka Shimoku Kio is going for here. It’s certainly interesting to see something like that play out in a grounded setting that isn’t all about male wish fulfillment, but it also underlines the current problem with this series: There’s a solid Madarame story here, yet not so much for everyone else. Everything in this volume revolves around this particular thread and anyone who isn’t directly involved in it winds up being shunted into the background. It makes for a focused story, to be sure. Yet you’d think that it would progress a lot faster than it does here with that kind of focus.