Happy Cafe 2 by Kou Matsuzuki: C+

From the back cover:
When two mysterious young men walk into the café to declare war, Uru’s passion gets the best of everyone, and they accept the challenge—with one condition: the loser will have to quit the industry for good. However, just before the contest, Shindo sprains his wrist! And when Uru’s mother shows up at Bonheur, will she convince Uru to go back home? Café Bonheur will have to survive through some turbulent times if it’s to stay happy—and in business!

The go-nowhere nature of the story in Happy Cafe worked okay for me in volume one, but lame plots combined with rehashes of the same character moments over and over ensured that I liked volume two significantly less.

On the back cover of the first volume, Uru is described as being a klutz, and while my original reaction to that was to groan, the interior contents proved much better than I was expecting. I had the same response to the plot synopsis for volume two—a rival bakery challenges Café Bonheur to a contest but oh noes, Shindo sprains his wrist!—but no pleasant surprise awaited me: it’s every bit as dumb as it seems. The representatives of the other bakery are fairly obnoxious, but what’s worse is that their behavior inspires even more annoying antics from Uru, who spends much of the volume spazzing out and/or losing her temper.

My favorite character continues to be Shindo, the grumpy but kind baker at Café Bonheur, but even so, I got tired of how frequently we were reminded of his characteristics. This volume features the discovery that, while seemingly a big grouch, Shindo makes a low-sugar Mont Blanc especially for a diabetic customer, that he will improvise a dessert for a little girl with a strawberry craving, that he’ll whip up a green tea pound cake for customers who aren’t big on sweets, and that he will say nice things about Uru to her mother when she comes to visit. We get it already!

While I continue to enjoy some elements of Happy Cafe—the food looks tasty and I genuinely did snicker a couple of times—I found this volume to be a big disappointment. I hope it’s just a fluke, but we shall see.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

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