One big amusement park date in My Friend’s Little Sister Has It In for Me! volume 9

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At the time of writing (February 2022), volume 9 of mikawaghost’s light novel series My Friend’s Little Sister Has It In for Me! is the last one available in English. The Japanese volume 10 came out in October of 2022, but there’s no sign of a translation as yet.

This is mildly upsetting, because volume 9 ends on one hell of a cliffhanger, and the promise that we’re approaching some sort of resolution to a lot of the series’ core relationships. But in situations like this, it’s all about the journey rather than the destination, and volume 9 in particular takes us on a wild, entertaining ride as protagonist Akiteru struggles to figure out his own feelings and how best to express them, even among unexpected happenings occurring around him.

My Friend's Little Sister Has It In for Me! volume 9

One of the most interesting things about Volume 9 of My Friend’s Little Sister Has It In for Me! — teased in the epilogues to the previous volume — is that heroine Mashiro desires to “break up” with Akiteru and free herself from their fake relationship. You’ll hopefully recall that a core principle of this series is that Akiteru is trying to secure a position for both himself and his indie game developer friends of the 05th Floor Alliance at his uncle’s huge company Honeyplace Works, and up until very recently this has been contingent on Aki protecting Mashiro from the trials and tribulations of high school by posing as her boyfriend.

Mashiro’s been harbouring a secret, throughout the entire run of My Friend’s Little Sister Has It In for Me!, though. Well, actually, she’s been harbouring quite a few secrets, but the main one is that she is actually the mysterious author Makigai Namako, creator of a widely beloved light novel series known as Snow White’s Revenge Classroom, and also the scenario writer for the 05th Floor Alliance’s game Koyagi: When They Cry. As volume 9 opens, a couple of people are aware of Mashiro’s true identity — but Aki isn’t one of them.

Mashiro has successfully concealed Makigai Namako’s identity by positioning him as a notorious recluse who doesn’t go out much, doesn’t make public appearances and doesn’t go in for cross-media adaptations of his work. This has been successful in cultivating quite the following for this mysterious author, particularly as his work has been so well-received in general — but it also means that Mashiro has been able to freely go about her business without anyone suspecting what she’s really up to.

The reason this is important is because Mashiro is well aware of the power she wields thanks to Makigai Namako’s popularity. And so it is that she approaches her father — Aki’s uncle — and negotiates with him for the right to break off her fake relationship. Her bargaining chip? The anime rights to her successful light novel series, which would be a sure-fire success and guaranteed money-spinner.

My Friend's Little Sister Has It In for Me! volume 9

There are a number of reasons Mashiro might want to do this. Firstly, there’s the simple dissatisfaction with the situation: while she’s in a fake relationship with Aki, she’s unable to cultivate a real relationship with him, due to how her father won’t allow it and Aki’s resistance to crossing the line and potentially putting the future of all his friends at risk.

Secondly, there’s the fact that Mashiro has been growing considerably in strength, confidence and assertiveness over the course of the preceding eight volumes of My Friend’s Little Sister Has It In for Me! and has finally reached a point where she thinks she’s ready to go it alone. By this, it doesn’t mean that she wants to abandon Aki altogether, but rather she wants any relationship she develops with him to occur naturally rather than under the distinctly artificial circumstances they’ve been operating.

Because miscommunications and misunderstandings are the core of romantic comedies like My Friend’s Little Sister Has It In for Me!, though, she fails to communicate this effectively to Aki, who remains thoroughly confused about Mashiro’s unusual behaviour over the course of this entire volume. Having been told in the opening that she wants to break up with him, the majority of the rest of the volume covers a “date” that the pair of them go on to theme park Tenchido Eternaland, which is conveniently located right near where the group have been on their school trip.

Tenchido, you may recall, is the Nintendo-esque firm run by Otoha, the mother of titular little sister and main heroine Iroha. Otoha has been the source of considerable tension throughout the entire run of My Friend’s Little Sister Has It In for Me!, because she’s the main reason that Iroha is unable to express herself freely, explore her acting talents publicly or even enjoy popular entertainment.

At the same time, the restrictions that Otoha placed on Iroha are the main reason that Aki and Iroha are so close with one another as the story begins in the very first volume, so had she not been the way she is, things may well have turned out very differently.

Not only that, but Otoha’s behaviour towards Mashiro and Aki when they encounter her at the entrance to the park — a meeting that Mashiro set up — is baffling; she awards the pair of them VIP passes, which allows them to skip all the queues and get straight on the rides, as well as get envious and adulatory glances from paying customers.

Anyway, it’s abundantly clear that Mashiro dragging Aki to this theme park when they’re not technically involved with one another any more has some sort of ulterior motive, but both Aki and the reader are left in the dark as to what this might be. Despite unashamedly demonstrating signs of physical affection such as holding hands, Mashiro’s behaviour is otherwise ice-cold towards Akiteru, with her attention firmly placed on the attractions of the theme park and getting around them as quickly as possible.

Indeed, when the pair of them come to the park’s notorious haunted house, supposedly one of the scariest in the world — and rather out of character for the otherwise family-friendly Tenchido — Mashiro ends up charging ahead confidently, leaving a rather shaken Aki to fend for himself against the ghosts of the mansion.

My Friend's Little Sister Has It In for Me! volume 9

And who should Aki happen to run into while running for his life (even though he’s never actually in any real danger)? Iroha, of course, who, towards the conclusion of the previous volume, decided to skip school and take her own little trip to Kyoto. She has several reasons for this: firstly, the opportunity to study under Mashiro’s mother Mizuki, who is a famous Broadway actress; and secondly, the chance to chase after Aki, because it transpires she can’t bear to be separated from him. She’s in the year below Aki, you see, and as such isn’t on the school trip.

Naturally, Aki is rather surprised to encounter Iroha a considerable distance away from where he thought she would be — particularly as their encountering one another occurs via the traditional “bumping into one another and falling over in a somewhat intimate position” trope — a trope which Aki is painfully aware of, even before he recognises whose breasts he has actually fallen into.

Thus, the “date” switches gears, as Aki finds himself proceeding around the park with Iroha instead — though once again, things aren’t quite “right” for a date, since they prioritise tracking down Mashiro, who is long gone by this point, rather than truly having the opportunity to enjoy one another’s company. Iroha makes sure to have a good time on the rides they end up on during their search, though. Aki, meanwhile, is distracted.

Throughout a lot of volume 8 and all of volume 9 of My Friend’s Little Sister Has It In for Me!, we’re kept guessing about Aki’s true feelings and his intentions towards the possible romantic interests. He keeps talking about how he’s pretty sure what he wants to do and who he actually wants to involve himself with more intimately — but he never actually reveals the full details of this to anyone, including the reader.

While frustrating to a certain degree, this is also handled quite effectively, because Aki certainly has his reasons for being hesitant about committing to someone.

For one, he doesn’t want to hurt anyone, because it’s clear that both Mashiro and Iroha are important to him; indeed, while he left secondary love interest Midori in tears in the previous volume of My Friend’s Little Sister Has It In for Me!, it’s clear that he felt pretty bad about having to do so, and thus having to reject one of the two young women who are closest to him is going to be infinitely more difficult.

(It’s also worth noting that Midori continues to not take her rejection all that well, as seen in a delightful scene where we discover she has more in common with her booze-chugging sister Sumire than she might care to admit.)

This is a marked shift from the Aki we met in the early pages of My Friend’s Little Sister Has It In for Me!, who had no time for interpersonal relationships whatsoever, believing them to be “inefficient”. Indeed, when Mashiro first confessed to him for real, he rejected her outright without hesitation — partly because he didn’t want to put his agreement with her father in jeopardy, but also because he simply didn’t see the “efficiency” in pursuing such a close relationship.

Now, in volume 9, he’s seriously contemplating with whom he wants to become closer — though one can argue that he’s still seeking the most “efficient” means of doing this by trying to find a way to pick someone without hurting the other. Things aren’t that simple in matters of the heart, however, and the very nature of a decision like this means that someone is going to end up getting hurt.

But Aki doesn’t get to make his decision thanks to the cliffhanger that volume 9 ends on; other, important things are happening. Not only does Mashiro finally reveal her true identity and the reason she was acting the way she was on their “date”, Iroha inadvertently finds herself coming face-to-face with her mother Otoha who, remember, disapproves of her daughter being involved with entertainment in any way, despite being the CEO of one of the biggest entertainment companies on the planet.

And for all her strength, confidence and wilfulness she’s displayed up until this point, Iroha just isn’t ready for that boss fight just yet. So she does something completely understandable: she bolts. As we pan back from Kyoto at the end of volume 9 of My Friend’s Little Sister Has It In for Me!, her whereabouts remain unknown — and we’re left with the tantalising teaser that there’s very much a reason for Otoha being the way she is.

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Pete Davison
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