In this volume we learn that Kazuma is
Yumurasaki's brother. Their mother sold Yumurasaki when she was a child, which allowed Kazuma to survive.
When he meets Yumurasaki again years later, she doesn't recognize him, but he recognizes her and decides to devote the rest of his life to protecting her.
In the present, Yukari has decided to try breaking free of his past life by purposely learning more about those around him and allowing himself to grow attached to people. In particular, he'd like to grow closer to Mahoro. Unfortunately, Yukari, Mahoro, and Satomi have all become so bound up in the patterns of their former lives that breaking free might not be possible. Mahoro and Satomi have a habit of blanking out and attacking each other every time they spend more than a few minutes together, and Yukari can't seem to stop being drawn back to the past.
My experience with short manga series has been that most of them are unsatisfying on some level, but so far this has been one of the more decent ones. I wish that Mahoro and Satomi's connections to their past lives could have been done a little more subtly, although I suppose the way Shiomi did things wasn't too bad. Their connection started off so suddenly and over-the-top that it was almost comedic at times, but in this volume it morphed into something more serious that could truly get people killed.
The section of this volume focused on Kazuma was...disconcerting. When he first met Yumurasaki as an adult, he wasn't 100% sure that she
was his sister, and he found himself a little attracted to her. The realization that she was definitely his sister came right after his realization that he was maybe attracted to her, but I somehow doubt he ever examined that horrifying mixture of feelings too closely. Oh man, I hope the last volume doesn't reveal that his protectiveness really does spring from feelings a bit more complicated than survivor guilt and brotherly love, because ewww.
Yukari (in Yumurasaki's body) and Takamura had some cute scenes this time around. I'm still not sure I buy that Takamura's scariness in the first volume was really just an act, but Shiomi did a better job of making Yumurasaki and Takamura a believable potential couple than I expected.
I'm looking forward to reading the final volume. Here's hoping it at least ends well for Yukari, Mahoro, and Satomi.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)