Volume 2 of Tsubaki-chou Lonely Planet saw our protagonist take on a part-time job to make ends meet when her father throws out his back. She also became friends with Aioi, the transfer student who was previously treating her like a gopher. Now we move into Volume 3, but what lies in store for our heroine next? Let’s find out!
As we reunite with Fumi, we find her at a book signing for Akatsuki’s latest book. Here, she’s ended up face-to-face with a rival for Akatsuki’s affection in the form of Katsura who is working alongside him at the signing. Katsura tells Fumi there’s no place for her at Akatsuki’s side and to not get between him and Katsura or she’ll regret it!
At an afterparty for the event, Katsura continues to get between Fumi and Akatsuki. Eventually, Katsura takes Fumi aside and tells her that women always get the wrong idea about Akatsuki and his relationships eventually fall apart because of that. She alludes to the Akatsuki having family trouble and struggling to know how close relationships should be because of that.
Fumi, of course, is frustrated to be learning these things from Katsura instead of the man himself and more than that, she doesn’t know how to handle her jealousy. Things escalate further when the group play the King’s Game and Akatsuki is challenged to kiss Fumi. He does so, on the forehead, then proclaims he felt nothing from the action which hurts Fumi beyond compare. Does he simply feel nothing for her?
With her emotions jumbled up, Fumi pulls away from Akatsuki. At school, she confides in Aioi, who suggests she gives up on her romantic pursuit but we all know romantic feelings are rarely so easily shelved. The only way to resolve this is for Fumi to talk to Akatsuki, but as we’ve seen throughout these three volumes so far, that’s not an easy thing for her. Having lost her mother at a young age and taking responsibility for running the household while her father was out working, Fumi has never felt like she could rely on anyone. Instead, she puts on a brave face, trying to figure out things all on her own.
While this volume is certainly about Fumi figuring out her feelings, it also firmly places the focus on Akatsuki and his editor, Kaneishi. Kaneishi is a character who’s been dropping in and out of the series since the beginning and who immediately noticed Fumi had feelings for Akatsuki, but he acknowledges it’s not his place to tease his friend about it and has left the two to figure it out for themselves.
Thanks to Kaneishi having a more active role in this book, we learn more about Akatsuki’s life, including the fact that he has always been terrible with women. He doesn’t talk about his feeling, tends to be standoffish and has terrible date ideas. This all leads to all of his girlfriends breaking up with him after 2-3 months. Still, he’s attractive, so it’s not hard to find girls who want to date him and the circle always continues. Of course, we’ve seen this for ourselves throughout the story so far, but it’s interesting to gain Kaneishi’s perspective on our male lead. There are still some questions lingering about Akatsuki’s history, but I feel that this volume has given him considerable character development.
Akatsuki’s struggle to convey his feelings is not all that dissimilar to Fumi’s, even if they’re caused by different issues. And it’s increasingly becoming clear that if they could open up to one another and talk, their relationship (as friends or potential lovers) would go much more smoothly. But author Mika Yamamori has no intention of rushing that and chooses to gently move the story along as our main characters stumble through their day-to-day lives. Much like the author’s approach to their other series, this seems like the right move since it feels more realistic for the two to slowly change their ways than to instantly solve all their problems. And our leads certainly are starting to change, thanks to their influence on each other and from the new friends they’ve made. Watching over them continues to prove rewarding for us readers.
Volume 2 of Tsubaki-chou Lonely Planet comes to the West thanks to Yen Press and is translated by Taylor Engel. As always, the translation reads well with no issues and there are a couple of pages of translation notes included at the back of the book. Volume 4 is currently scheduled for an English release in August, so not long to wait if you’re looking forward to seeing more of this one!
Overall, Tsubaki-chou Lonely Planet Volume 3 gives us some much-needed development for Akatsuki while slowly getting Fumi to overcome her past and open up to those around her. This series continues to be a tender shojo that’s easy to recommend to readers looking for something that’s not melodramatic and is willing to put the time into developing its cast.