Silver Diamond 3 by Shiho Sugiura: A-

From the back cover:
After capturing the assassin Tohji, Rakan and his two guests return to squabbling over what to eat for dinner. But as they interrogate Tohji, they come to realize that he may not be so different from themselves.

Meanwhile, Chigusa begins to realize that his growing affection for Rakan is starting to overcome his desire to drag Rakan back to the other world as his tool. But what does Rakan want? And what will happen when the dark prince who shares Rakan’s face suddenly shows up in this world?!

Tohji’s arrival seems to be the catalyst the group needs to begin comparing notes on their situations. They discuss how they each were sent to this world and also exactly why it is that Chigusa’s role is to destroy ayame (creatures that take nutrients away from living things), points which have significance for plot and character development alike. It’s a testament to the likability of these characters that it never occurred to me before that they weren’t discussing things that it’d be logical to talk about. The story is definitely advancing at a leisurely pace, but I find I don’t mind at all.

Emotionally, the main focus in this volume is split between Chigusa and Rakan. Chigusa finds himself feeling guilty about wanting to take Rakan back to the other world when ours is the only world he knows. When the opportunity to take a different sanome presents itself, he goes for it. Rakan tries to convince himself that he’s relieved and that he’s perfectly content with his normal life, but in a well-executed change of heart, eventually declares that he wants to face his destiny. This is sure to take the story in an interesting direction.

This volume also feels more like shounen-ai to me, though the build in this aspect is as slow as is the plotting in general. Rakan realizes that he feels nervous and excited in Chigusa’s presence, and, after this realization, you can see that he’s more conscious of their proximity when they’re near each other. It’s definitely unique to get this much character building before the presumed romantic leads do anything more than participate in group hugs; my level of interest in their relationship far exceeds the amount I can normally summon for boys’ love manga because Sugiura-sensei has taken the time to ensure that we really care about each of them.

There are a few tiny things about events in this installment that bother me—how exactly did the ayame prince know that a new sanome had appeared?—but this doesn’t change my conclusion that this series is only going to get better in volumes to come.

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