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Megumi Nishizaki, Author, Sawaka Kawashima, Translator, John Werry, Translator . Viz/Shojo Beat $7.99 (150p) ISBN 978-1-4215-1142-9

Teenage drinking, sexual coercion, romance between adopted siblings—all par for the course in this "alternate-ending novel" set in the world of Miki Aihara's convoluted and inexplicably popular teen manga. Hatsumi, the 16-year-old narrator, begins with a fast-paced introduction to the principal characters—Ryoki, who "enslaves" Hatsumi when he sees her with a home pregnancy kit; nice-guy Azusa; and Hatsumi's adopted brother, Shinogu. They live in Mrs. Tachibana's Housing Complex, where different floors create an ad hoc caste system for families. A brief backstory on how Shinogu came to live with Hatsumi's family gives way to an interminable game of "will they, won't they," all laced with a hint of incestuous taboo and made trickier by the arrival of a beautiful competitor for Shinogu's heart. A tiny bit of tension arrives late in the tale when Shinogu turns up missing, but by and large it is an uneventful story that spends most of its time in Hatsumi's head. Fans of the original manga are legion and passionate; the alternate-ending nature of this book (in the original, Hatsumi and Ryoki end up a couple) and the fact that it is written by someone other than Aihara, means it may have a tough time winning over the otaku. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 01/01/2007
Release date: 02/01/2007
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