Monkey High! 4 by Shouko Akira: B+

From the back cover:
Macharu’s best friend Atsu is really starting to fall for Haruna, especially since she’s been working at the same place he works and they’ve been spending more and more time together. With a jealous Macharu waiting and a persistent Atsu pursuing, who is Haruna going to choose in this bizarre love triangle?

I think I’m just gonna have to resign myself to semi-clichéd outings and a meddlesome bunch of friends with this series, because neither appears to be going anywhere any time soon.

Summer is approaching and, with it, opportunities for chapters about going to the beach, watching fireworks while wearing a yukata, et cetera. As before, Akira-sensei skillfully uses these familiar backdrops to develop her main characters. In the first chapter, we get some follow-up on the end of volume three, where Haruna admitted that she was uncertain of her own capabilities, seeing as how her father’s clout might’ve been responsible for her past successes. Now, when the opportunity comes to start a part-time job at a café, she goes for it, saying that she’s been inspired to try new things.

Macharu is supportive, but once he spots that Haruna and his best friend, Atsu, also an employee at the café, are becoming a bit more friendly, he begins to grow jealous. It’s something he can’t shake even by the end of the volume, despite Haruna saying that she wants to be closer with him and various occasions where she reinforces that he is the one that she likes. Playboy Atsu, too, seems to be growing more serious in his feelings about Haruna, and takes his mission to pester Macharu to the point that Yuko—one of those omnipresent supporting characters whose name I finally learned—comments, “Atsu, sometimes I just don’t know if you’re teasing Macharu or actually trying to sabotage him.”

I continue to like the relationship between the main characters, especially that Haruna continues to be quite unabashed in initiating smoochy time. In this volume, they talk about one day doing more than just kissing, and also admit that they’re scared. “It’s difficult to see where this love is headed.” It’s moments like these that enable scenes with overly familiar settings to seem like something new and unique. Too, it’s also difficult for a reader to see where this love is headed. While I highly doubt that Haruna will chose to be with Atsu in the end, I definitely think that interesting times lie ahead.

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