Title: Honey Lemon Soda Vol. 4
Author: Mayu Murata
Publisher: Yen Press
Genre: Slice-of-Life, Romance
Publication Date: November 21, 2023
In Volume 4 of Honey Lemon Soda, Ishimori is at the school culture festival. Her class is doing the whole maid café thing when they realize that their food supplies are running low. Ishimori heads out to buy some more and discovers that Kai’s class did some recordings as to what duty they are on. His was listed as Ishimori duty. This causes some emotions to stir; however, when she gets back she has to put those aside as some of the girls left so they need her to fill in as a maid. Then, the festival starts their matchmaking event and she volunteers because she feels that she will make all of the other girls look good!
Kai pulls her out of the event. This causes even more emotions to stir in her but things are about to get a bit complicated. After the festival is over, summer break is about to start but not before there’s a bit of gossip. This ends up giving us a bit of a backstory of Seira and what happened between her and Kai in middle school. When Ishimori hears it, she can’t help but draw parallels to her own experiences with Kai. Also, due to the gossip, she believes that once she’s able to stand on her own two feet, Kai will leave her as there won’t be a need for him to be on “Ishimori Duty” anymore.
After hearing Seira’s backstory, Ishimori asks her if she still likes Kai. She says no but Ishimori can tell that she’s lying. This causes her emotions to spiral out of control and begins to feel as if she’s better off just ending things right now. Summer break starts and this leads into the summer culture festival. Ayumi stops by Ishimori’s house and invites her out to the festival so that the two of them can have some alone girl time to talk about their relationships; however, Ishimori runs off and is spotted by Kai… the last person she wants to see right now!
While Ishimori took center stage once again, I wouldn’t call her development “progression” but more or less “regression”… but in a good way. Just when she thinks that she has her feelings for Kai sorted out, she gets hit with the possibility that Kai is only helping her until she’s strong enough to handle things on her own. Add in the fact that Seira still likes Kai and it causes her confidence to take a major shot to the heart. Sometimes, you have to fall because you can elevate yourself and that’s what is happening with Ishimori.
Kai, on the other hand, goes through some soul-searching as well. A lot of people are bugging him about Ishimori, some even think it’s painfully obvious that he likes her but he hasn’t fully admitted it yet… until now. What sparked Seira’s backstory was Kai being asked if he liked Ishimori and if he did, if would it just be a repeat of middle school. That caused him to really think about it and he ended up making up his mind about whether or not he liked her romantically. What happens from here, though, is a bit uncertain because of Seira.
Seira talked about how she was one of the most popular girls in middle school until one day she confronted a couple of girls about some of the things that they were saying. Girls can be vicious and to pay her back for sticking her nose where it didn’t belong, they began to bully Seira. That all changed when Kai took it upon himself to become her protector. That got the bullying to stop until Kai overslept one day and they made a remark that he wasn’t there to protect her. Rather than worry about being bullied, it made her realize how much she depended on Kai and that didn’t sit well with her. That’s when they ended up breaking up but she could never let her feelings go.
There is a lot of stuff to unpack in this volume. Ishimori’s confidence got shattered and now we have a possible love triangle developing… then again, maybe not. Both Seira and Ishimori lied to each other when they said that they didn’t like Kai but they later admitted to one another that they lied. Rather than making it seem like a competition, they both agreed to be loud and proud of their love for him. Whether or not that develops into something remains to be seen; however, with Kai already admitting to himself that he likes Ishimori, it all seems like a moot point. The question here is how will Seira react when he chooses Ishimori over her.
Of course, we need to get there first. Ishimori still isn’t in the best frame of mind. She still thinks that it’s best to just let Kai go and move on with her life. Meeting him at the summer culture festival didn’t help things… especially when Ayumi comes back and finds them standing together. I’m sure we’ll see the resolution to his ending in the next volume… whether Ishimori will admit she likes Kai or she’ll run away and continue her solo pity party.
Knowing how these series go, I’m betting it’ll end in vagueness for the sake of Seira and Ishimori battling it out for Kai’s affection… and by battle it out, I mean to mention it from time to time to cause each other to second guess why they like him in the first place. We’ll see what happens but you can’t help but feel bad for Seira knowing that Kai already has his mind made up… or does he? That could be interesting if Seira gets desperate!
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This item was provided for review by Yen Press