Hana-Kimi 18 by Hisaya Nakajo: B-

From the back cover:
Under his father’s disapproving eyes, Sano faces his own brother in a high-jump competition! Then, a schoolwide treasure hunt turns into a grudge match between Kayashima and his self-proclaimed rival, Modoru the onmyouji, a traditional Japanese occultist. Will psychic powers or black magic prevail? But Modoru has something else on his side: the power of cuteness!

That has to be one of the least promising blurbs in the history of mankind. (Incidentally, the “power of cuteness” turned out to be two ferret-like spirit creatures, which was at least better than Modoru himself attempting to influence things by his own cuteness.)

The structure of this volume was annoying, with the first two and final two chapters dealing with ongoing plot stuff (Nakatsu’s confession to Mizuki and Sano’s family issues) and the middle three being occupied by a completely pointless treasure hunt that was clearly only there just to delay the resolution to the cliffhanger ending from chapter 99 (will Sano go visit his dad in the hospital?). I’m not even sure whether it was supposed to take place before or after the other stuff. I do like Kayashima, though; I’d probably read a manga just about him.

Anyway, the volume picks up immediately where the last left off, and I liked how Mizuki handled Nakatsu’s confession. I worried she’d decide to go out with him for a few volumes, or that Sano would conveniently observe them and misunderstandings would ensue, but neither of these things happened. She rejected him and spent the rest of the relevant bits of the volume trying not to feel uncomfortable around him.

The bit in which she propels a family reconciliation also didn’t happen as expected. She nudges Sano to visit his father when an ulcer sends him to the hospital, and cutely waits just inside the dorm until his return, but doesn’t take as active a part as I expected and would’ve been rather annoyed by.

The plot stuff was good, and the volume as a whole would’ve received a better grade had this main story been allowed to unfold uninterrupted by filler.

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