Spoilers beyond the cut.
From the back cover
Takumi and Hachi are getting married, but it’s far from a joyous announcement. Nobu and Nana are devastated, and even Takumi’s bandmates take the news hard. With paparazzi skulking around for a new scandal to exploit and tensions between Trapnest and Blast on high alert, will Hachi ever get her happily ever after?
I had started this volume immediately after finishing volume eight back in August but watching Hachi dutifully submit to Takumi’s advances was just too horrible and I had to put it aside. It took seven months for me to be ready to give it another go. Having made it to the end this time, I’m feeling at least a little more optimistic about Hachi’s chances for happiness.
One might think, in a volume dealing with the fallout from an unplanned pregnancy, that the expectant mother would be the one experiencing the most traumatic emotions. Fascinatingly, however, Hachi seems quite serene. Lonely and missing Nana, but still at peace with her decision to marry Takumi and seemingly even happy with him, to the point of snuggling with him in the swanky new apartment he rents for the two of them. I don’t really know what to make of that, honestly—can she actually love him? Is this another of her acts that she’s putting on for the sake of her child? Even when we do see her, it’s more from Takumi’s perspective than her own, so I hope we get some insight into her thoughts soon.
It’s actually Nana who reacts the worst, to the point of actually blacking out and forgetting some of her actions. Her friends are very concerned and her interactions with them are the best parts of the volume for me. I especially love the scene near the end where Ren has read the letter Hachi left for Nana upon moving out of their apartment. In it, Hachi says that Nana will always be her hero. As Ren urges Nana to go after Hachi, and she demands why she should have to be the one to do that, Ren replies, “That’s what a hero does.” It’s no exaggeration to say that line made tears spring to my eyes. I love the love between friends in this series. Even if the narration—”Is your new life that you protected at all costs still fulfilling you now?”—is beginning to drive me crazy with impatience to know what happens.
Another thing I appreciate is that Takumi is not the straight-up villain. Yes, he’s controlling and untrustworthy, but he seems to be making an effort to be nice to Hachi. We’ll see how long that lasts. I liked that the bonus story, ostensibly about Naoki, managed to sneak in some more revelations about Takumi’s character, too. Plus, you will never do wrong in my eyes by praising the music of T.Rex and David Bowie!
The only complaint I could make is that the Trapnest members don’t really interest me much. I find Reira, with her predilection for sobbing, rather tiresome. I think I’m supposed to feel sorry for her, but she just gets on my nerves. Still, I suppose even that is good character development.