Kurumi and Kaito are back to spread more Christmas cheer. They start off by injecting a little hope into some unbelievers, including a group of orphans and a little boy who doesn’t believe in Santa. Until Kurumi shows up and proves him wrong, bringing happiness to the orphans and granting the little boy’s dream. Then it’s summer again, and at this point I stop tracking the seasonal changes, because time doesn’t ever seem to truly pass in this story. Kurumi goes on a trip with her friends and Kaito, thinking she’s on break from Christmas. Until she meets a strange black reindeer in a hot springs and her master who claims to be the Dark Santa, there to test Kurumi and Kaito. This Dark Santa takes control of Kaito’s rein and breaks his link with Kurumi. If Kurumi cannot reconnect the rein within twenty-four hours, she will no longer be a Santa. Akira the Dark Santa and Nene the black reindeer go about testing Santas to make sure their relationships with their reindeer are genuine and strong. Otherwise, the unique relationship could become a burden on them both, and the reindeer might do the one thing it’s not supposed to do – make its Santa unhappy. For his part, Akira dislikes the master-servant bond between Santa and reindeer, and believes reindeer should be free to live as they please, not bound to a Santa’s whims. Akira gives Kurumi a chance to set Kaito free from his forced affection, so Kurumi asks Kaito if he truly wishes to continue serving her. The rein between them reconnects due to the trust they have in one another. Christmas comes once again, and there’s an odd name on the list of good children – seventeen-year-old Daisuke Tateyama. Young Tateyama is getting a special surprise for Christmas this year – his very own reindeer. It’s grumpy Rihito’s turn to meet his Santa, and he’s far from thrilled to be someone’s servant. Of course, Tateyama isn’t thrilled to have Rihito appear with a careless phrase and interrupt his life. But when Kurumi is injured protecting Tateyama’s little sister, he calls on Rihito to take over Kurumi’s Christmas route…and even enjoys it a little. Summer comes round again, and Kurumi and her friends are vacationing at the beach, along with Kaito’s entire family. While going to buy some ice, Rihito runs into Tateyama working at a snack stand. While there, some guys from a rival stand across the beach come by to bully them, and challenge Tateyama to a volleyball contest. Rihito joins in, and they fly up the ranks in the tournament. Unfortunately Rihito collapses from the heat, but his family steps in to help out and support the new Santa. The last third of the book is a one-shot story called “The Door to Eden” about neighboring all boy and all girl schools, separated by an impenetrable wall. It’s the dream of many of the male students to date a student from the girls’ school, and it’s the role of the respective student council presidents to aid in those dreams.
Cute, if a little confusing, and with no regard to a time line. Tsukuba admits in one of her side columns that Kurumi is likely to be seventeen forever. So even though the books jump around between clearly different Christmases and summers, pay it no regard. The events are sequential – Kurumi meets her reindeer, works her first Christmas, tests the bond of their relationship, and then another of Kaito’s family finds their Santa. Just ignore that we’ve seen about three or four separate Christmases now. These chapters are just every-day sort of stories, which is a little disappointing, and I’d like to learn more about Kurumi, her background, and what makes her a good choice to be a Santa. As I mentioned when I reviewed volume 1, there are some uncomfortable implications regarding the relationship between Santa and reindeer. The story line with Akira and Nene addresses this a bit, certainly adequately enough for a relaxed series in this genre, but not satisfactorily for me. Especially given Kaito’s nature as a fairly airheaded, carefree character. While I don’t think Kurumi is the sort to order Kaito to do something against his will or something morally wrong, every little “order” she gives is still a command he must obey, including jumping up high into the air to hit a volleyball. Which is kind of abusing the bond they have. Especially since she’s capable of temporarily freeing him from it. I know I’m thinking on it too deeply, that this is a light story and delving into that territory is unnecessary…except the story itself dives into it, with the cursed Nene. Otherwise, the series continues to be a sweet, uncomplicated thing.