I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.
I've written this review assuming that anyone reading it has either read the previous volume in this series or doesn't care about spoilers for past volumes. You've been warned.
Okay, so this volume basically has four separate stories. First, Sato is bummed because he's going to be forced to go on a family trip from Christmas to the start of the new year. Yoshida accidentally upsets him and then meets an old man who may or may not be Santa Claus. In the next part of the volume, Machiko, the student council president, comes up with a plan that she thinks will guarantee her a spot next to Sato at a warm kotatsu. After that, readers get to see where things stand between Azuma and Nishida. Sato proves to be more helpful than I expected. The volume wraps up with a class field trip, which is particularly special because it's Sato's very first field trip ever.
This is the first full volume since Sato told everyone that he and Yoshida are a couple. The first story, with the strange possible-Santa (okay, not really Santa, although Yoshida and Sato did manage to get a Christmas miracle) was a bit odd, but I loved how bummed Sato looked that he and Yoshida weren't going to get to spend that time together. I found Tanaka's artwork, which exaggerated his feelings by making him look particularly haggard and shadowed, to be surprisingly funny (and cute?), I think because the Sato of several volumes ago would never have shown so much of his true feelings in public.
Technically the next part of the volume, with all the girls fighting for the right to sit with Sato at the kotatsu, wasn't much different from any of the past “girls fighting for the right to be with Sato” stories. This difference, this time around, was that neither Sato nor Yoshida had to hide their feelings for each other. Sato gesturing for Yoshida to come sit with him while everyone was distracted was a lovely moment.
As for the bit with Azuma and Nishida, I'm not sure what to think of those two. If they became a couple, it would keep Nishida out of Sato and Yoshida's way, but they're so awkward together. Azuma can't seem to find a happy medium in his behavior towards Nishida – either he throws himself at him too forcefully, or he pulls back too much. Sato's advice to Azuma worked surprisingly well, but I'm not sure he'll be able to identify the right time to switch gears.
The field trip was the best part of the volume. I found myself smiling through almost the whole thing. Sato's open enthusiasm for the trip was a little weird after so many volumes of him trying to look as cool and calm as possible, but it was still fun to see. So much of this part was ridiculously adorable: Sato's anticipation of the trip, Yoshida enjoying Sato's anticipation of the trip, and the way all their classmates reacted. The girls managed to rein in their jealousy for once, just so that Sato could have a “nice and typical field trip.” Well, as typical as possible considering that girls from other schools all wanted Sato too.
As far as Sato and Yoshida being a couple went, most of the characters seemed to have either accepted it or decided not to think about it too much (it was tough to say, although at least no one went around saying “__ sure is a great guy! Even if he is gay!” the way they did with Nishida in volume 4). The school's boys were disappointed that Sato dating Yoshida didn't mean the girls had given up on him. The school's girls were just as determined to get him to themselves as ever, and yet they forced themselves to hang back during the field trip so that Sato could enjoy it with Yoshida. The most awkward moment came when everyone was about to go to sleep for the night (everyone in sleeping bags in the same room, girls in one room and boys in another) and Makimura ordered Sato and Yoshida not to “get it on” while he was sleeping nearby. Judging by the looks on everyone's faces, not even Sato had thought about doing anything until Makimura brought it up.
I really liked this volume. Sadly, I have now read all the volumes in this series that I had on hand. I definitely plan on buying more in the future.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)