Onise's words at the end of the previous volume cause Nao to wonder whether her feelings for Sou really are romantic. As she puzzles through the concept of romantic feelings and how to recognize them, Onise suddenly brings things to a head. He
kisses her while she's dozing and she wakes up and catches him at it. He's utterly horrified with himself and sure that this will be the end of their friendship, while she experiences an epiphany after the kiss: the one she has romantic feelings for is Onise. She wants to tell him, but how?
The volume ends with the introduction of a new character, Ayaha Futami, a classmate of Onise's who takes an interest in him.
I still think the entire "Nao has a crush on her uncle, who has been raising her since she was six" thing was weird and off-putting. And while I appreciated the way she started questioning how to recognize whether her feelings are romantic or not, I thought she figured things out awfully fast considering she'd spent years interpreting her love for her own uncle as romantic love.
I also didn't like the way Nao's epiphany happened.
What Onise did could be considered sexual assault. He kissed her while she was sleeping. From his perspective, Nao thought of him as a friend - no romantic feelings whatsoever. He knew he didn't have her consent for what he'd done, and it was part of why he was so utterly horrified when she woke up, caught him at it, and made him realize the line he'd crossed. I don't consider Onise to be a bad guy, but I wouldn't have blamed Nao if she'd been uncomfortable around him from that point on and kept him at arm's length.
If this had all happened in real life, that's probably what would have happened. However, this is a romance manga, so instead the kiss helped Nao figure out her true feelings. Again, I wish Meguro had figured out some other way to give Nao her epiphany.
Meguro included some moments showcasing Nao and Onise's budding friendships with Yashiro and Misaki, although they always referenced Nao and Onise's romance. The moments were cute, but I found myself thinking about the friendship storyline early on in Kimi ni Todoke that explicitly focused on Sawako, Chizuru, and Ayane, with no reference to Sawako's budding romance with Kazehaya. Yashiro supported Nao while she wondered what to do about Onise, and Misaki supported Onise as he decided to pursue Nao more actively. I thought the relationship between Onise and Misaki was slightly better done. It felt like they had a firmer foundation, in large part because Volume 1 had already done some of the work of breaking down Misaki's defenses on-page. Yashiro was a bit friendlier in this volume, but it came more out of the blue than Misaki's transformation.
Once Nao and Onise officially became a couple, I tended to like Meguro's efforts at "sweet" moments more. Onise turns out to be the sort of guy who moves both fast and slow, originally asking Na out "with marriage in mind," but worrying that by holding hands they're moving too fast. And Sou doing the "dad" thing, telling Onise that he'd better appreciate the cookies Nao put so much time into, was nice. I kind of hope Sou gets a romantic storyline at some point (with an adult! You have no idea how much I hate that I have to specify these things).
I'm not sure how I feel about the ending. I hope Futami is the good guy he appears to be and that Onise figures out a way to hang out with this new friend of his without making Nao feel like she's constantly being left out. But I worry that Meguro actually plans to make Futami a secret villain. I suppose I'll find out.
I'm still iffy about this series. Although the art style is cute and there are lots of cute moments, there are lots of aspects that I'm not wild about. I'm hoping the next volume is better.
Author sidebars and a few extra AU (alternate universe) comics in which Meguro depicts Sou as a teacher and all of the series' other characters as small children.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)