Since by this point many of the main characters in mikawaghost’s light novel series My Friend’s Little Sister Has It In for Me! (aka ImoUza) have had their time in the spotlight to shine, it was evidently time to advance one of the main narrative threads somewhat — and in doing so, give both protagonist Akiteru and heroine Mashiro a bit of time to figure things out.
You will hopefully recall that the fundamental setup on which My Friend’s Little Sister Has It In for Me! is that Akiteru is in charge of an independent game developer known as the 05th Floor Alliance, and that he is attempting to get all the members of his little crew a job at Honeyplace Works — a powerful multimedia organisation who, in volume 5, are pretty much positioned as modern-day Square Enix.
Akiteru wasn’t just doing this out of the blue, though; his uncle is the CEO of Honeyplace Works, and he offered Aki a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: the 05th Floor Alliance could come and work at Honeyplace Works after the school-age members graduate, but only if Akiteru successfully maintained a fake romantic relationship with his cousin (and uncle’s daughter) Mashiro for the remainder of his school life.
The reasoning behind this was that Mashiro had suffered terrible bullying at her previous school, and wanted a fresh start; her father believed that making everyone around her believe that she already had a boyfriend would keep the creeps away for the most part. And, indeed, aside from an incident earlier in the series, where the titular friend’s little sister Iroha defended her from some bullying girls, that has mostly been the case.
Unfortunately, Mashiro has been hiding a few secrets from everyone, including both Akiteru and her uncle. Firstly, she is actually in love with Aki, and always has been since they shared their childhood together. Her uncle doesn’t know this, but she confessed to Aki in an earlier volume — Aki, being someone who values “efficiency” above all else (and who, up until that point, had believed romantic and/or sexual relationships to be “inefficient”) had gently rejected her, but agreed to continue going along with the sham relationship.
Secondly, she is also the real identity of the popular light novel author Makigai Namako — who just happens to be a never-seen member of the 05th Floor Alliance, only ever communicating using text or heavily filtered voice chat. She has maintained this identity primarily as a means of getting close to Aki — but in the meantime she discovered a genuine talent for writing, and thus is juggling both Makigai Namako’s commercial responsibilities with “his” commitment to the 05th Floor Alliance’s popular game Koyagi: When They Cry, and through an unfortunate series of circumstances, is now also forced to pose as a fledgling writer under her “real” identity also.
It hasn’t been easy for Mashiro, in other words, but she’s been a trooper up until this point. Despite a pretty clear rejection from Aki, she maintains her belief that she’ll be able to bring him around to her way of thinking and establish a real relationship with him. She is also painfully aware that her father has forbidden that they get into a real relationship — and also that Aki is forbidden from getting into a real relationship with anyone else. And Aki sure has been getting close to Iroha in the last few volumes. Oh, the tangled web we weave.
Volume 5 of My Friend’s Little Sister Has It In for Me! opens with Aki’s uncle showing up with Mashiro in tow, intending on quizzing the couple about their sham relationship and how well it’s going. Unfortunately, he arrives at Aki’s apartment just as Iroha is there doing her usual thing of hanging out somewhere that she’s actually allowed to enjoy popular media and entertainment — that’s a thread we’re surely coming back to in a subsequent volume — and thus a frantic scramble ensues to remove all trace of Aki’s friend’s little sister who has it in for him.
What follows in this volume is a series of events that are somewhat critical to the development of our hero Aki. As the last few volumes have progressed, it’s become abundantly clear that he’s harbouring feelings towards Iroha, but he hasn’t quite figured out what form those feelings take just yet. He knows that she’s attractive, and he is admitting more and more frequently that the behaviour he previously regarded as “annoying” is actually “cute” — but he’s still not entirely convinced that entering into a relationship with her would be the right thing to do, not least because of his promise to his uncle and Mashiro.
As we talked about last time, Aki is also aware that he’s in a position of privilege when it comes to Iroha. He believes he’s the only person to know that Iroha is the voice talent behind the “Phantom Voice Troupe”, who provide all the voices for the Alliance’s game Koyagi. In reality, there’s no “troupe” at all; all the voices are Iroha, who is extraordinarily talented, but forced to hide those talents in case they are revealed to her extremely overbearing (and strongly “anti-entertainment”) mother.
Unbeknownst to both Aki and Iroha, though, towards the end of the last volume, Mashiro accidentally became aware of Iroha’s true identity and now isn’t quite sure what to do with this information. On the one hand, she knows that she could spitefully use it to put Iroha in a difficult position and thus take Aki for herself; on the other, she’s come to think of Iroha as a genuine friend, and thus any time the opportunity to raise the subject comes up, she always ends up stopping herself from going too far.
From this, we can tell that Mashiro is a fundamentally decent person despite her ongoing, continued and ridiculously elaborate series of deceptions. She is someone who, for one reason or another, has always found functioning normally in society to be somewhat challenging, and she feels a certain amount of shame about that. She wants to change, and she sees her relationship with Aki — fake or real — as being an opportunity to do that.
Consequently, with her and Aki having a sudden need to prove the propriety of their fake relationship to her father, much of My Friend’s Little Sister Has It In for Me! volume 5 concerns how Mashiro starts taking some increasingly bold steps to improve herself, improve the relationships with the people around her, and perhaps take aim for a relatively “normal” life.
Alongside all this, Aki is still feeling confusion about Iroha, and he knows that pulling that thread too intensely right now will lead to a complete disaster. He decides that the ideal solution for everyone would be for Iroha to find a best friend that she could be annoying with in the way that she is to Aki. Right now, the fact that they believe themselves to be the only ones who share the secret of Iroha’s true identity of the Phantom Voice Troupe makes them extraordinarily close with one another, and that’s why Iroha’s behaviour comes across as an intoxicating blend of lovestruck teenager and irritating little sister.
Trouble is, Aki is falling back on old habits here; he believes that this solution would be “the most efficient”, but at no point considers Iroha’s feelings on the matter. Iroha already gets on with a lot of people in her class — though for the most part it’s through maintaining her “perfect honour student” facade rather than truly being herself — so it’s questionable as to whether she actually wants to find someone else to act as a best friend. Right now, she has one in the form of Aki — though, of course, as these things tend to go, those feelings have crossed the line from friendly affection to genuine romantic feelings.
I suspect the “will they, won’t they” thread with Iroha is one that is going to continue throughout the rest of My Friend’s Little Sister Has It In for Me!’s full run — but in the meantime, Mashiro at least gets a certain amount of closure in this fifth volume. In a heartwarming mirror of a flashback scene we’ve previously seen, Mashiro manages to succeed where once she failed.
As a child, she was once unable to climb a tree to sit next to Aki and watch a fireworks display with him, so Aki, being a considerate sort, jumped down and sat with her on the ground. She had long held that memory as a precious one — but also a shameful one. She wanted to be able to stand alongside Aki as an equal, not as someone he had to (literally) lower himself to — and thus in volume 5 of My Friend’s Little Sister Has It In for Me!, we see the pair of them recreating the scene almost note-for-note — only this time, Mashiro manages to ascend the tree after quite a struggle.
Unfortunately, Iroha happens to see this happening — as well as overhear Aki describe his plan to find Iroha a best friend to Mashiro. Understandably, she’s a bit thrown for a loop by all this. And that’s where we leave things this time around!
Throughout much of this volume, Aki is concerned that he’s being a “piece of shit” for leading everyone along like this. On the one hand, he absolutely is, but on the other, everyone involved pretty much knows the entire situation and how awkward it is — so the blame can’t be laid entirely at Aki’s feet.
One thing that does come across abundantly well, however, is the fact that one cannot control one’s true feelings, regardless of promises you might make in that regard — and regardless of how “inefficient” those feelings might be. I suspect we’re in for a fair bit of dramatic tension before My Friend’s Little Sister Has It In for Me! reaches a conclusion — and at this point, I am 100% here for it.
My Friend’s Little Sister Has It In For Me! volume 5 is available in Kindle format now from Amazon, with a paperback version following in July. Alternative purchase options can be found on J-Novel Club’s website.
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