In How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend Volume Five, Tomoya must choose between two variations that Utaha composed for his game scenario. While he feels that the conservative story is a safe bet, the iconoclastic one speaks to him more. When Tomoya can’t choose, Katou suggests they should pick one to finish, as games are best judged by a playtest. Tomoya and Katou’s coding creeps along until Tomoya recruits Michiru and, more importantly, her tech-savvy band members, to accelerate his scramble for the finish line. And, after all this effort, the game is boring, and little time remains to prepare an entry for Comiket.

There are some additional wrinkles in this volume, such as the challenge from Izumi that will pit Blessing Software vs. Rouge en Rogue, and Utaha’s inability to pick from the options for her college education. When she asks Tomoya “Which do you think is better…why are you so flustered?”, and from there goes to two pages of coquettish expressions, you can see that this not only foreshadows Tomoya’s excruciating choice between two scenarios, but that Utaha enjoys making Tomoya share the pain of her indecision; an indecision that seems to stem from dissatisfaction with both colleges, as she is already satisfied with her creative career as a successful writer. Which makes me wonder if she created a Kobayashi Maru for Tomoya, without a positive outcome in the two scenarios that she provided, in order to push him to find his solution, just as she should accept that a college career may be too stultifying for her.

As the world of How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend uses its characters and slice of life situations to comment on art creation and delve deep into the well of anxiety and achievement that is creativity, it may be particularly engaging to burgeoning artists and writers. Despite Tomoya’s immense harem of female friends and the title of this book, the romance in this manga is confined to some more or less negligible flirtation that distracts from this overriding theme of art creation. If you’re looking for a light read with lots of teen romance, this book is probably not for you; however, if you’re looking for a light read that involves soul searching and making difficult creative decisions, HtRaBG is right up your alley. I’m reminded of La Boheme, if its bohemians had no money worries, and could focus on the fun side of creativity.

How To Raise A Boring Girlfriend Volume 5 arrived in stores on March 28th, 2017, but if you find it sold out, you can find a bookseller through this link.

Yen Press sent the review copy.

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