Fortunately, the delay in release dates wasn't so long as to throw off our review schedule any further. Which is to say that Hatsu*Haru 9 really has hit bookstore shelves now, so we can review it! So let's go! Spoilers ahead!
This is the second review in a long line of "wow, we're a million reviews behind, we better get writing!" reviews, a spurt brought on by the fact that we're also six reviews away from reviewing our most recent Sailor Moon translation and need to get started on the next book in hopefully about a week. This particular book is also the third in a series of super rush translations. It wasn't a super rush at first--things seemed to be going right on time, until an editor emailed and reminded us of a book we'd entirely forgotten about, which we then had about 48 hours to start and finish. When we successfully cleared that hurdle, we finished up our translation of Missions of Love that we had also been working on that week, and then we finally finished this one. We had actually been planning to finish it first, but when the other translation popped up, everything got tossed around. As I wrote in our Missions review, we suspect the choice to put Hatsu*Haru off came from strong suspicions that its letterer was super busy anyway and wouldn't mind waiting a little longer. The joke was on us, because the letterer was eager to read more of this series. Ha, ha, ha... Sorry, lys.
Anyway, Hatsu*Haru! I don't even remember what happened, but I know it was fricking adorable. And it's not entirely true that I don't remember this one--I was thinking about it last night, and I remembered there was a Kagura chapter. But that's all I could remember (my thoughts may have been dominated by smartphones and Miraculous). Athena remembered the hot guy contest. We're sure there must have been a chapter between those two, but we can't remember at the moment. I'm sure we'll remember it as the review goes on.
But first, Kagura! She's pretty fun to translate, as you may imagine. The exact wording of her lines about disliking boys maaaay have been direct quotes from ourselves circa high school and college. Not that we hated all boys, of course, but we did think that all of the ones we knew were stupid. Disney characters and anime bishounen gave us hope that they weren't all stupid. And in our defense, we have a pretty low opinion of the human race in general, so... I'm really not making a case for myself. I'm sorry for being such a misanthrope.
I should probably also point out that, if I remember correctly, Kagura didn't actually say boys are stupid. The two lines, "Boys are stupid" and "I hate them," were originally one broken line, but having it say "I hate" and "boys" really just sounds awkward. And she did say "nanka" with "boys," which is a suffix added to things you think are inferior in some way or another, so we felt it was appropriate.
Anyway, whether or not you agree with Kagura's opinion of boys, I think anyone could be entertained by this chapter, because it's great. We finally learn why she's so closed-minded about people of Shinto and Buddhist faiths mingling, and it's so... I don't know, but I do know that kids that are the age she was when she first adopted that concept do tend to be pretty strict about everybody and everything staying in their little boxes. (This is why I get so exasperated about labeling these days. It's like, "Guys, come on. Let's be grownups.") I don't think anybody was surprised to find that, oh my goodness, Kagura has a crush on Tora. The super cute thing is that Tora hasn't figured it out yet. But I guess it's pretty common for people to be oblivious when they're the object of someone else's affection. I wonder if there's something coded in our DNA that makes it really hard for us to believe that someone is crushing on us... (This observation brought to you in part by Miraculous, and its abundance of obliviousness.)
nyway, it was so cute when she got mad and ran off, and Kai saw the whole thing and was like, "Oh, she's in love with Tora." Meanwhile, Tora's like, "What's wrong, Kagura!?" I'm still not sure how Kai got to Kagura before Tora did, and with enough time for Kagura to basically tell him her life story. So we learn that Kagura has admired Tora all along, but then she finds out Tora doesn't see her that way when a pretty face comes along and Tora asks the owner to go out with him (or marry him? I don't remember--this was like five weeks ago). And the funny part is that the pretty face belonged to Miki, who for better or worse does not swing that way. It was a little extra funny for us, because when we did the first draft, Kagura was looking at Tora and Miki together and accusing them of causing all her woes, and we were like, "Ooookay..." But then when we went over it a second time, we knew exactly what happened, and it was like, "Ooohhh, it all makes sense now!" And then it was funnier.
And that basically sums up Kagura's story. She can't just tell Tora she likes him because she suspects he'd be like, "Great, you can join my harem!" and that is far from what she wants, so there's still some trouble there, but now that Kai knows the truth, he's doing what he can to help.
And in the meantime...there was another chapter... What happened in it... Toward the end of it, Ayumi won a lottery in the local shopping district... She and Takaya were out eating...
Okay, we gave up and pulled up our script to refresh our memories. (Sometimes we'll skim through the book we're reviewing to remind ourselves what happens, but it's all the way over there. So far, in fact, that I don't even know where "there" is, just that it's not somewhere I can reach without getting up.) But the point is, we remembered! We remembered that Kai was upset that he couldn't cuddle with Riko more. Poor Kai. And his attempt to rectify the situation had the most unexpected and hilarious result. He and Riko were on the roof eating lunch, and it was getting cold, so Kai says, "I know how we can warm up!" and Riko says, "Of course! Sumo!" And we're all like, "How...?" I can't say I blame Ayumi for jumping to the conclusion she did about what that means, although if she knew Riko better, then even if it HAD to be a euphemism, it probably would have been for something like kissing...but I guess that makes less sense metaphor-wise.
Anyway. The matter gets resolved in typical Kai-Riko fashion. A girl asks Kai out, he says he can't he's taken, she gets upset, he makes a sudden movement, Riko comes in just in time to see him apparently beating up on a girl, she beats him up instead, and now the girl is more in love with Riko than him. But then Riko finds out the truth, and they hug. Awwwwwww.
Meanwhile, Ayumi is desperate for a story. Frankly, I think she's not trying hard enough. Does their school not have any clubs or teams or anything? Surely she can report on what they're doing. I guess her curiosity about the world only extends to humans insofar as they are indulging in more animalistic tendencies. So it's right in line with her character, but it's still like, come on, girl. But that's okay, because if Ayumi weren't Ayumi, we wouldn't get the events that come from her zaniness. In this case, the event is a hot guy contest! Tadah! She won tickets to a hot spring resort at the shopping district lottery, and now she's giving them away! Hilariously, the consolation prizes are also things she had lying around the house.
The timing couldn't be better, because Kai is desperate to take Riko on some kind of a trip, but he can't get any money! I really admire the way he goes about it, though, because his first thought really is to earn it himself. But his mom won't let him get a job, so he tries to extort his family instead. ...Okay, so that part is significantly less admirable, but it was really funny, so we forgive him. And he did want to get a job. The reason his mom won't let him get a job is pretty sad, too. For a series that is so spontaneous apparently the author doesn't even know what will happen on the next page, it factors in past events really well. So, like, I want to talk about Kai trying to get money out of his father and brother-in-law, but the scenes really do speak for themselves, so all I can say is read them! You won't regret it!
So he goes to school dejected and torn about whether or not he should ask his friends for money, but then he learns that there's a hot guy contest! And it's perfect, because he's the most popular guy in school! ...Only he's not anymore. I mean, of course your popularity has gone down, Kai, girls liked you because you were easy. So Takaya is the favorite to win, and now Kai is really torn, because he doesn't want to sabotage his friend, but he's still desperate. Meanwhile, Takaya seems pretty uninterested in the whole affair, but when Ayumi insists, he's like, "Cool, if I win, I'll take you to the hot spring," and now she wants to help Kai. And I really feel like I'm just retelling the whole story!
So yeah, they do this, that, and the other thing, and Kai really struggles, because Ayumi suggests he start his fan service schtick again, but then Kagura is like, "How can you betray Riko like that!" so Kai, diligent boyfriend that he is, abandons his secret weapon, and then starts handing out fliers instead. Aww, poor guy. Then Takaya comes out to help him, and he really is such a good friend. Just read it, it's good. We weren't surprised at all to see who ended up winning the contest. It was really the obvious solution. It was at the end, so I don't see any reason to give it away (as if you don't already know).
The best part was that Sango beat Kai up for trying to extort money from her husband, and when people asked him why he was black and blue, Kai pulled out the old kitten rescue story again. And then! the story almost came true! Bwa ha ha! ...I mean, it's really a good thing that it didn't, because he could have been seriously hurt, but because he wasn't, we can all look back on it and laugh.
And there you have it. It's another great volume of a great series. I always feel like our reviews never do it justice, but I think part of that is that the series is so funny, it's kind of hard to top it. Anyway, we hope you're still enjoying it!
Awwwww, you guys, this series is so cute!! And so good! Go read it, everybody!
As for this week's new releases, well, there was Fruits Basket another and Hatsu*Haru. And! Sailor Moon Eternal Edition 6!! Woohoo!!! And there's also My Monster Secret 18, so tune in next week for our review of that!
Today I'm thankful for getting to look back at Hatsu*Haru, making fairly good progress on work today, finally getting to replenish the cat food supply, Target having some mint-fudge-filled chocolate bells, and having time to watch two episodes of Miraculous tonight.