By Yuki Yoshihara. Released in Japan as "Chou Yo Hana Yo" by Shogakukan, serialized in the magazine Petit Comic. Released in North America by Viz.
In looking at my review of Volume 3, I noted that one of the things I enjoyed most about this series was seeing Masayuki's over the top sexual harassment towards his lover Choko, and hoped to see more ludicrousness. Oddly enough, I don't get that here in Volume 4. And yet this volume pleased me more than the previous ones. Why is that?
I'm tempted to say Gundam, though that's not exactly correct. What makes this volume work is that the over the top humor that had mostly been confined to Masayuki's advances in previous volumes expands to cover a much larger array of ridiculousness. Thus you get the 'elevator' to the president's office that looks like the passage to the secret base you see in 70s giant robot shows, or Masayuki bitching about how he and the president are TOTALLY DIFFERENT, as Masayuki prefers 80s robot stuff to 70s. Half the time these jokes read like complete throwaways, which actually makes them funnier. (My favorite was the Saikano reference.)
More importantly is the development of Masayuki. I'd mentioned that there was less of his leering sexual harassment this volume. That actually starts off halfway through the volume, and is noted immediately by Choko, who actually misses the attention a little bit. Understandable, as this was the easiest way to tell his affection towards her. I kept waiting for the punchline, expecting him to be holding off as he's trying to get into her pants for some special reason. But no, it may just be that he's actually trying to be a better boyfriend to her. He does, in the end, ask her to move in with him, which might be part of why he was holding back, but I still think it's a good sign of growth.
As for Choko, she's still not as strong as I expected her to be from her kickass scene in Book 1, but she does OK. She spends a lot of the first half of this book 'imprisoned' in the president's palatial estate, but at least is strong enough to say no to the president to his face, and also smacks Masayuki the one time he DOES go too far. I'm hoping that Masayuki's attempts to be a better person allow her to grow as well, and that the two can finally show affection for each other without the passive aggressive behavior we've seen to date.
This series can be frustrating at times, but it's no Hot Gimmick. The main reason for that is there's a playful tone to the whole thing, both in-universe with Masayuki's 'courtship' and in real life, as Yoshihara knows when to pile on the gags and when to show the hot sex scenes. There's still a bit of guilt to this pleasure, but this volume in particular was a lot of fun.