By Yoshiki Nakamura. Released in Japan by Hakusensha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Hana to Yume. Released in North America by Viz.
In a long-running series such as this, you're going to run into those volumes that are predominately setup for a payoff coming later on. And that's exactly what this is, as we mostly get to see a somewhat beaten down Kyoko struggling with her new job and how to create her new character, but have to wait for the next volume to get the payoff.
It is nice to see Kyoko, who is a bit of an acting savant, having to once again deal with the fact that she has to connect with a role in order to make it hers. We saw this a bit with Mio in earlier Dark Moon volumes, but here it's even more pronounced, as Kyoko realizes, despite what everyone hired her for, that Natsu is NOT a Mio - she's an entirely different breed of villain.
Likewise, Kyoko's depression in this volume seems more realistic and less comedic than her usual (with the exception of the first chapter, which stands as a nice little example of how the artist usually handles her dark moods). This isn't really something that Ren can fix with just a few well-chosen words, though given the end of the volume it would appear I might be wrong. She has to get her head into the mind of someone who is, at heart, nothing like her. This can be difficult. I admit I found a lot of the book hard to read, not as it wasn't good but as I was squirming watching her flail about.
Ren's big failing in this series continues to be how he's a little too perfect, and that doesn't change here, as his big scenes show him knowing exactly the right way to handle Kyoko. I'll admit that his fairy tale about the rose was my favorite part of the entire book. From his overdone narration, to Kyoko's emotional highs and lows, to Yashiro boggling at how easy Ren can deal out a pile of crap this high, the scene is a marvelous microcosm of the relationship the three of them have.
And we also meet Chiaki, who seems to have a Death Note. She would appear to be the next minor 'villain' in the series, but we don't really get a chance to see much of her at work here. That'll have to wait for the next volume, where we will also no doubt see Kyoko triumph over her demons and create a Natsu of her own that will be truly frightening! (glances ahead to Volume 23) Really, REALLY frightening.