Things look truly awful for Koushi when the Koganei siblings come after him again, but even when things look bleak Momoko is ready to stand by him.
Writer/Artist: Shinobu Ohtaka
What They Say
Koushi moves into the Nakajima apartments, his father's reprimand still ringing in his ears. Though he is less than thrilled with the idea of becoming a martial artist, Koushi realizes he can't stay indifferent for long. The Koganei clan is already on the prowl, and a well-aimed poison ping-pong ball catches Koushi off guard. As the slow-working poison takes its toll, Koushi despairs. No amount of training can save him now... but perhaps the Strongest Bride on Earth can?
Koushi struggles over whether or not to learn the martial arts techniques on the scroll his father game him - but he might not have the luxury of a choice once the Koganei siblings come after him. Trouble starts when little Tenchi, the youngest Koganei, shows up, fraying older brother Tenka's nerves. The rest are soon to follow, as Tenten and Tenrei block Koushi on his way home from school, while Momoko faces the most powerful sibling, Tenga, in another part of town.
In the ensuing battle the Koganeis trounce Koushi and company, but even though the goal is to kill Koushi, Tenen merely poisons him. It's because it's "fun", Tenten says, and also because it's a good way to string out the plot.
I can sympathize with Koushi at this point as he finds out he'll die in a week, but in the part directly following his poisoning he's a real pain in the butt, taking on a defeatest attitude even while everyone's gun-ho on his behalf. But even as everyone shuffles away, Momoko proves she's tough as nails inside as well us out, standing up Koushi's scare tactics and doing something brave, though incredibly stupid, to show her loyalty and strengthen their bond.
The Inuzuka group goes to the Koganei village to get the antidote, but instead of a straight-out battle it's soon apparent we're going to be seeing a tournament-style fight. The tournament puts stress on the group - Koushi could die that day, something the masochistic Tenten is well aware of. A straight out brawl between the too sides would have been more immediately exciting, but it would have allowed for the character development that seems likely to come - and tournaments are a shonen fighting staple that I'm always happy to deal with.
Some humor gets thrown in with the volume, and while it can be hit or miss it's good as long as Koushi's the butt of the jokes, like the goofy bits when he's reminded again and again of his inferiority to these martial artists. Unfortunately there's also some completely unwelcome perverted humor using the creepiest looking old man I've ever seen manga.
Volume 4 of Sumomomo Momomo ends in the midst of the first battle, leaving us hanging as we wait to see what will come of Tenka's fight with his beloved but disillusioned little brother - an exciting end that left me groaning at my lack of volume 5. I'm sure the way the rest of the tournament pans out will be easy to figure out - who will fight who, and who the winners will be as our heroes move forward. But predictability hasn't made this story any less fun. The humor makes the story an easy light read, though I would have been better for it if that old man was never a character.