The island test is over, and to make up for the students having to film an episode of Survivorman, they get to kick back and relax on a luxury cruise liner. Unfortunately, the kicking back and relaxing comes to an end when the first-years are assigned yet another test: join hands with your fellow communes and sing kumbaya or stab everybody in the back for the sheer glee of being a dick.
The Misleading Plot Points:
Like volume 3, Ayanakoji does a lot of miscellany, chitchatting with buds and such, and you think it’s all going to tie together in a mind-blowing spectacle for the ship test, but in reality, it’s just a lot of filler, which is dreadfully unsatisfactory. This series has a talent for fashioning a solution by looking toward the extremes of its established rules, but it has trouble writing in scenes which build up to that climatic payoff.
The Character Arc Cut Short:
Each volume tends to focus on one or two sirs or dames, and the leading lady in this spotlight is Kei Karuizawa, the informal representative of the Class D girls and girlfriend to Mr. Perfection. Up till now, she generally painted herself as a charismatic, happy-go-lucky gal, but that facade gets ripped down with the reveal of her tough past and her invidious personality. It’s delightful seeing how Ayanakoji breaks her down so that he can pick her back up and add her to his toolbox. However, she just falls into the background after this, so we don’t get any denouement to her twisted character arc.
The Witty Opponents:
Up until now, Ayanakoji has been one step ahead or to the side of his opponents, but not so much this volume. I’ll leave it at this as a tease, but let’s just say that some characters are smarter than they let on, and others are dangerously crafty, and it’s greatly effective at humbling Ayanakoji.
There are basically two plots going on, with the test being a backdrop to the character drama, which integrates itself only so well by the end. I’m also beginning to question the school’s credentials for prepping students for the real world by putting them in cutthroat competitions where everybody turns into an asshole and only the holiest of asses come out on top. But it’s great fun yet again seeing things light on fire and waiting to see how our psychopathic protagonist stokes those flames to catch the competition in it.