Title:Mint Chocolate Vol. 9 Author: Mami Orikasa Publisher: Yen Press Language: English Format: Paperback Pages: 160 Genre: Slice of Life, Romance, Comedy Publication Date: October 17, 2023
Volume nine of Mint Chocolate wraps up the issue between Kyouhei, Nanami, and the Sakuma. It was very satisfying to watch but, needless to say, Sakuma won’t be bothering with them any longer. Before we got the confrontation, though, we were treated to a bit of Sakuma’s backstory and why he came to resent Kyouhei. It was a nice touch.
The results of Kyouhei’s actions resulted in a three-day suspension, though. When he had to explain it to his father, there was quite a subtle, yet, heart-warming moment attached to it. Apparently, when you’re suspended from school, you’re not supposed to leave your house in Japan. That’s kind of rough but I get it, though. Despite that, there’s a knock on the door and a little boy named Shouta comes to visit.
He wants Kyouhei to take him to his brother’s house because it’s his birthday and his parents are divorced. Kyouhei refuses but the boy begs and begs until he finally caves. On top of the fact that he’s not supposed to be outside during his suspension, his teacher wants to stop by after school to check on him! The race against the clock is on and he enlists Nanami to help buy him some time; however, will she be able to do so?
Sakuma got the most attention in this volume. When he tried to get into his first-choice high school, he ended up failing the entrance exam. He chose his current school because he felt that if he got into a worse school, he could look better by comparison. Big fish, small pond type of thing; however, when he checked the academic rankings, Kyouhei was above him and he was in second place. He confronted Kyouhei and wanted to know why someone like him chose this school but Kyouhei was kind of a prick to him and thus… the animosity began.
While the backstory justifies his hatred for Kyouhei, it never really excuses the things that he did to him. Using Nanami as a way to get to him was pretty low but what’s important was that he reflected on his actions after his confrontation with Kyouhei. Even though Sakuma is ready to start over, he realizes that it’s too little, too late with Kyouhei… plus, Andou was put in charge of watching Nanami while Kyouhei was suspended so it’s not like he can try anything now… motivated to or not.
The only other development came with Kyouhei. It was a subtle moment when he had to explain his actions to his father. One simple line carried a lot of weight with it: “What’s wrong with sticking up for my family?”
The reason why it was so heavy was that his father never heard Kyouhei talk like that before. He even remarked that he always referred to his mother as “that woman.” So, for Kyouhei to say the words “my family,” it showed just how much all of them mean to him… something that he had never expressed before.
This was a feel-good volume of Mint Chocolate; however, I am bothered a bit by the whole Shouta plot point… which I’ll get to in a moment.
First off, standing up for Nanami was a feel-good moment, even if Kyouhei had to pay for his actions. It did lead to an amazing line that, as I said, carried a lot of weight to it. I love how just one simple line of dialogue can blow open a character’s personality and show just how much he has developed since the beginning of the series. That’s pretty tough to do, especially with a character as reserved as Kyouhei but the mere fact that he just blurted it with intention made it feel genuine and impactful. One simple line did better development for his character than an entire chapter of explanation. Well done.
I don’t believe that it’ll be truly over with Sakuma; however, I don’t see him pulling any more dirty tricks. I think he might get a redemption arc but whether or not it will succeed or fail will fall upon Kyouhei and Kyouhei alone. Nanami is too much of an airhead and I can kind of see her forgiving Sakuma if he just explains things properly but Kyouhei had a deeper, emotional connection to his actions (and not in a good way) so it would be very easy for him not to forgive… especially after the warning he gave him during their confrontation. If they do go the redemption arc route, it’s going to be a tough sell (in character) for Kyouhei. We’ll see how it goes if the trigger is pulled.
Now for the part I didn’t like about this volume… Shouta. The volume would have been completely fine had they left things along with Kyouhei’s teacher coming over to check up on him. Maybe they could have used that as a way to have him explain Sakuma’s actions further so that he could receive some form of punishment, too. It would have been the perfect cherry on top of the proverbial sundae after everything that happened; however, Orikasa decided to go this route.
Plain and simple… Shouta couldn’t have been more obvious as a plot device. All he was inserted into the story to do was create artificial drama that wasn’t needed, Aside from possibly being late to meet his teacher, what other purpose does this solve? If your answer is “Well, he did talk about the importance of family to Shouta so it ended up serving as an indirect method of self-reflection,” then to you, I say, “Yeah; however, there are many other ways that they could have accomplished that.”
For example, they could have had Kyouhei and his father bond more over the dumplings he was about to make and, from there, have Kyouhei self-reflect on his own about the value of family. This would have further cemented that amazing one-liner, made him see Nanami in a deeper light, and made him appreciate everything he has a lot more than before. It could have furthered the heart-warming vibes this volume was giving off but, instead, we got this and I’m just scratching my head and wondering why. Unless Shouta is going to become a staple character in the future, this seems like a complete and total waste of time.
But, that’s just me. Either way, Volume 10 will open with us seeing whether or not Kyouhei made it home in time. If he doesn’t, what’s going to happen? Another written apology? Another day or two tacked onto his suspension? In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t even seem like much of a threat. Oh well, up until that point, this was a great volume but that last story arc kind of hurt things a bit.
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