“State of Mind”
Sorry Takako-sensei, but these 20-page chapters after waiting a month just aren’t cutting it.
I’m sure this can’t be the first, but I can’t recall another chapter where Nitorin didn’t appear in the flesh (he does show up briefly in Takatsuiki’s daydream). While the depth of the cast is definitely a strength of Hourou Musuko, monthly manga run a risk by ignoring the lead for even a chapter or two. Especially with things left as they were between Shuu and Anna, in this case it’s a lot to take.
In fact, the chapter focuses on Sasa, at least in the first half, and that’s a reach well into the depths of the supporting cast. She’s been a rare sight since the high-school era started, and here we see her in the midst of her first (presumably) real crush, on Sasaki-kun - who’s alas smitten with Saori. Asking a girl to invite another girl to a mixer – especially after being told she has a boyfriend – is pretty clueless behavior indeed, but it’s just possible Sasa’s surprise confession over the phone (after telling him that Saori and Chi-chan want to beat him up) may have turned his head a little.
From there, things turn to Takatsuki – who’s been somewhat less prominent in the manga over the last year or so. She’s still modeling – we have a brief interaction with Anna, but no mention of the kiss – and still musing over how her POV has changed. “I always thought I wanted to be a boy… And Nitori-kun wanted to be a girl. Recently I’ve stopped thinking that way – and it feels like I’m betraying him somehow.” Intellectually of course, Takatsuki knows Nitorin doesn’t feel that way – but it’s clear that she’s still in the midst of wrestling with what this change of heart means.
Finally, it’s Chiba and Takatsuki together in the cafeteria - and Chiba is still her usual, completely tactless self. But she does get an important message across from Yuki, part of their conversation two chapters ago when Makoto dragged her there – “there’s nothing wrong with changing your mind.” It’s fair to say that both Takatsuki and Nitorin are less certain about their future path than at any time we’ve known them, but far too early to say whether either has really changed their mind.