Well, talk about a tale of two volumes. Toilet-bound Hanako-kun volume 8 felt slightly aimless and relaxed, which makes some sense after coming off the Hell of Mirrors Arc. While that arc does have events that reverberate moving forward, at least it took one volume. Volume 9, however, is just getting started in introducing the terrors Nene and Kou have to deal with and how they’ll be able to solve this latest challenge.
Volume 8’s main key points involve Kou’s frame of mind and Nene accidentally taking a trip to the past. Discovering Nene’s set to die within a year and Mitsuba not recognizing him weights heavily on his mind, so he’s very much down about recent events. Nene, who doesn’t know about her future, wants to find a way to cheer him up. That’s when Hanako gets the bright idea to take the two to the summer festival. Well, not just any summer festival, it’s the boundary festival — so ghouls and scaries are aplenty.
This, however, eventually leads to Nene running into a cow and getting
isekai’d into another world sent back 50 years into the past. Guess the first person she meets when she gets sent into the ’60s? Amane! Young Amane ends up befriending Nene, and their interaction — and what she ends up giving him — feels like something to file away for future events. Sometimes wishing slips can mean something if you get all the right colors!
Other than that nugget, we had what felt like a Halloween special chapter (Mokke of the Dead!) and more brooding for Mitsuba. It is important to continue following Mitsuba as he’s now School Mystery No. 3 and with the broadcast club, but unless he can start remembering Kou, I find myself less interested in what crowd — the supernatural or human side — he should be in. It’s not like at this point he can change it. So overall this volume was fine, but nothing quite impressive. It did have a stinger at the end though, so it meant there was much to look out for in volume 9.
Well, talk about catching me off guard, AidaIro: it literally tosses us into the action!
Volume 9 ends up leaving us with more questions than answers: Without even realizing it, Nene and Kou find themselves seemingly in a time where Amane and Mitsuba are students at their school. Everyone except them knows this, and outside of this anomaly, everything feels the same except the unusual tower within school grounds. By chance, at one point they see a girl not wearing the school uniform and become aware of a girl known as Mei Shijima. They then for sure understand something is wrong when Aoi and Akane, the ones who explain Mei’s past, get sliced up right in front of them.
There are so many interesting aspects and questions raised in this volume. We first start with Mei, who is School Mystery No. 4, the one who has thrown Nene and Kou into her picture world…involuntarily? She’s the one Tsukasa ends up introducing at the end of volume 8 to be Mitsuba’s “friend”, but it’s hard to believe that when she’s hiding under the table. So we know it’s likely she’s been coerced to do this. Her past is tragic — her parents didn’t want her to do art after graduating high school, so she killed herself — which leads to how will Nene and Kou find a way to help her, if they can?
The additional problem is their way of getting out. It’s a fake world, and that means ending the source would break the world. The problem is Mei’s ability in her space has made Amane and Mitsuba the main characters. So for the fake world to be broken, those two have to die. As Sakura comments, that’s not an easy task for these two, so Nene and Kou have much to figure out in order to escape. It’s still a mystery if it’s possible, but since Mei ended up eliminating Akane (School Mystery No. 1) and Aoi (one mysterious girl) for revealing her information, it implies they could force Mei to let them out as an option.
Another possible method would involve Hanako himself, who, as far as the story goes, is Amane. But is that the real Hanako? Where’s the ghost Hanako? Is he just letting this happen? The story has long established the mysteries are at their strongest inside their domains, but man, it really feels like he’s not able to do much to stop the events from spiraling out of control. That said, Nene is his assistant…what will she and her radish legs do to escape this predicament?
On the note of radish legs, it feels like there has been no school mystery that has not commented on Nene’s legs. I guess in this case Mei, with her art appreciation, only appreciates it as art…?
Anyways, the stakes are again raised and volume 9 still manages to have its humor too. So all in all, that was a great volume that unfortunately ends with me needing to know how these various problems will be solved. This manga continues to remain very interesting. Can’t wait to finally check out the next volume and the next volume after that in due time.