When Hikari finally asks Kei out, it seems like a dream come true. But they weren’t counting on a double date with Sakura and Jun! And when Kei and Hikari finally get a moment alone, who shows up but the dreaded Yahiro? Throw Megumi, Takashi and Akira in the mix, and it’s another troubled day in paradise!
This is the way you keep a romance from advancing. You throw everyone else’s romantic troubles at the burgeoning couple! Sakura and Jun start what ends up being a rollercoaster rider for not just Kei and Hikari, but the other members of SA as well. Aoi’s pressures from Kei’s grandfather grows, so that it requires Hikari’s intervention, and finally, it’s Kei’s birthday. Not that he’s got much time to celebrate with his SA friends, with crisis after crisis at the company keeping him away.
Less focus on just Kei and Hikari’s relationship has made this a much more enjoyable volume. Hikari doesn’t show her density as much as she and Kei try to help Sakura and Jun work out their problem. Or when Aoi tries to pressure her once more into give up on Kei. She was actually a lot less annoying. The chapters where she’s trying to come up with something for Kei’s birthday were fun, and her final gift was just perfect. It felt like there was actual progress between Kei and Hikari, even if it was just in baby steps.
The scenes with the flashbacks of Kei and Hikari really helped show this progress. I enjoyed the scenes where Kei was remembering past birthday presents from Hikari, and though they weren’t big or expensive, they were special because of the meaning she put into them. I especially liked the bonus story showing Kei and Hikari’s first meeting. It really shows why Hikari means so much to him.
It was good to see other members of SA getting together, as relationships that seem to have been in the making for while that finally get some movement. Sakura and Jun start the volume and set up not just Kei and Hikari, but also Takashi, Akira and Yahiro, which appeared to be an interesting triangle. It’s not an unexpected resolution for the trio, but a satisfactory one.
Overall, this volume was a good read. There was little I found annoying. The greater emphasis on the whole cast instead of just Kei and Hikari was a definite improvement. And even their moments were nice ones, though the ending seems to indicate a reckoning coming.