In which Ogiue has a terrible hangover, Sasahara is left to tend her, there are tears, nightmares, confessions, and hot hot Ohno cosplay. Next time: Sasa-Ogi climax!

Chapter Title: Musui (trans: “drunken dreams”)
Release Date: December 25th, 2005
Serialized in: Afternoon
Author / Illustrator: Kio Shimoku

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Ohno schemes to leave Sasahara behind at the cabin alone with Ogiue, to tend the vicious hangover she’s developed after a night of drunken confessions.

The chapter opens with them together, Ogiue not wanting Sasahara to be there and not understanding why he’s ruining his vacation to stay with her. Sasahara realizes it’s a setup, and assumes the role of guardian somewhat uncomfortably. The others, meanwhile, are out on the town, where Tanaka has joined them and found a perfect little grotto to squeeze some gratuitous Ohno cosplay into the chapter.

Sasahara gets Ogiue some water and eventually decides to go out and grab some lunch. When gets back Ogiue has fallen asleep, a sight he welcomes with relieved concern. She’s in the midst of a horrible nightmare, however, in which she’s back in junior high and someone in her classroom mutters “homoue” as an insulting play on her name. Her classmate and “friend” Nakayama rises to her defense, but Ogiue can’t take it anymore – she rushes to the roof of the school and climbs over the fence at the edge, her classmates in close pursuit – she looks back, and seeing Nakayama’s evil smirk, lets go of the fence…

Only to find that it is not she that is falling, but Makita, and she is the one watching from the fence with the sly, leering grin on her face. She wakes from the dream with a start, sweating and trembling… it’s a dream she’s had before. Just as she’s starting to recover, Sasahara walks in to check on her, offering her a cup of tea.

She breaks down at this point, not knowing how to react to his kindness. She tells him so, and that she doesn’t know why he’s here, thinking to herself that the nightmare is just continuing… Not knowing what’s going on in her head, Sasahara interprets this as The Vital Point in the plot of a dating sim, when he should come out strong with the sympathetic, manly confession of his feelings.

He proceeds to do so. “I’m here… because I like you… I want to keep you safe…” But all Ogiue can see is her nightmare of the endless replay of Makita falling from the school roof. She turns to Sasahara, laughing weakly. “But I…. I don’t go out with boys…..”

Ohno and the gang are just returning to the cabin in the late afternoon as they see Ogiue burst from the door and run down the path away from them. Realizing that things have gone badly, Ohno gets angry at the thought that Sasahara somehow screwed up and made her cry. Bursting in to demand an explanation, Sasahara explains what happened from his perspective: “Thanks for going to the trouble of getting us alone together,” he says “but I was soundly rejected.”

“I told her I liked her, and she said she doesn’t go out with boys… then she ran out.” Saki: “You confessed to her? And she ran away?” Ohno and Saki share a “moment”, and then unceremoniously boot Sasahara from the cabin. “You go after her right away, and don’t come back until you’ve got her, you hear?!”

The last page of the chapter sees Sasahara approaching Ogiue at dusk, on an observatory platform in the forest. The preview for chapter 46 reads: “Next time, Sasa-Ogi climax! Your brain will explode!”

Reading back over this I realize there’s not much to say about the chapter – this is Kio firing on all strokes and scoring a perfect ten. He’s managed to inject believable humanity into the story that I wouldn’t have thought was part of its purview, and trying to analyze what’s going on too closely right now would be like stepping out of a roller coaster in mid-descent – I can’t wait for next month’s installment, which aside from the Sasa-Ogi climax should indicate more clearly whether we can expect the story to continue beyond April. The sooner that’s cleared up the happier I’ll be. I’ll note on the side, though, that Ohno just keeps getting hotter and hotter as the story progresses, and if the manga continues for much longer I’m going to develop some serious circulatory problems.