It's time to film the big car chase for Dark Moon, but an accident on the set leaves Ren in a tailspin. Nobody is hurt, but even the actors on the set of Box "R" can hear to breaks squealing. Kyoko books it to meet up with Director Ogata, only to find Ren completely catatonic behind the wheel
Inside his own mind, Ren reliving the worst day of his life — or rather, of Kuon's life. It's the day his best friend and mentor died in a senseless car accident. Trapped in this nightmare as Kuon, Ren sees no means of escape... until a hand appears, suddenly pulling him from the darkness. It's Kyoko, melting away the bitter cold and darkness that had enshrouded him. In the real world, Ren awakes to find Kyoko by his side, just as she was in his nightmare.
Ren claims he's fine, but after work he invites Kyoko over to his apartment for dinner. She's happy to spend time with him, but still worried about his state of mind. It seems Rens roles are dredging up old memories best left buried. Does he have the strength to conquer his demons alone? Ren is starting to see the logic behind Lory's deliberate efforts to keep Ren and Kyoko together: with Kyoko by his side, he won't have to do it alone.
This volume contains the chapters:
- Act 164. "Violence Mission, Phase 8" note
- Act 165. "Violence Mission, Phase 9" note
- Act 166. "Violence Mission, Phase 9.5" note
- Act 167. "Violence Mission, Phase 10" note
- Act 168. "Violence Mission, Phase 10.5" note
- Act 169. "Violence Mission, Phase 11" note
- Act 170. "Violence Mission, Phase 12" note
Chapters in this volume provide examples of:
- Balancing Death's Books: In Ren's nightmare/ flashback/ PTSD-induced despair spiral, he offers to exchange his life for Rick's after Tina pulls the You Should Have Died Instead card. He nearly succumbs to the darkness before Kyoko shakes him out of it.
- Death by Origin Story: The fate of Rick, Ren's friend and mentor during his troubled teenage years.
- Everything's Better with Sparkles: Just look at that volume cover.
- Flower Motifs: It's a shoujo managa after all:
- The title page for chapter 168 depicts Kyoko in a tropical, floral-patterned halter dress with a hibiscus in her hair.
- The title page for chapter 169 features Kyoko and Ren as a fairy tale prince and princess kneeling in a meadow full of flowers.
- The title page for chapter 170 shows Kyoko surrounded by flowers.
- Most chapters have a few instances of panel backgrounds filling with unexplained flowers.
- Good Luck Charm: Even when she's not acting the role of Setsuka Heel to Ren's Cain Heel, Kyoko is able to fulfill her role as Ren's "Good Luck Charm" (as ordained by Lory) and snap him out of a PTSD-induced despair spiral.
- Heroic BSoD: Even though he avoids hitting the child who ran into the road and the other car in the stunt, the second Ren's car comes to a stop he falls into a catatonic state as he relives the death of his best friend and mentor.
- Lethal Chef: Ren apparently takes after his mother, who can't cook. Not that the omurice dish he whips up is supposed to taste good...
- Multiple Reference Pun: There are two translations available for the omlette rice dish that Ren makes, both of which work as a pun:
- Oahu omurice: "Oahu" sounds close to the English word awful, which perfectly describes his cooking.
- Maui omurice: "Maui" sounds close to the Japanese word mazui (when said with a mouth full of food), which means terrible, unsavory, or in poor taste.
- My Greatest Failure: Ren has some serious Survivor Guilt over Rick's death.
- No Stunt Double: Ren is all set to perform a dangerous, high-speed driving stunt — but the first shoot almost ends in a small child getting run over, causing Ren to fall into a catatonic state of shock. Once he recovers, he's given the choice to have a stunt double do the scene.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Ren asks Kyoko to come over and share a meal with him, when he's normally the type who Forgets to Eat. Kyoko figures something's up with him when he eats the entire massive portion he served for himself.
- Portent of Doom: The clasp holding the chain on Kyoko's Princess Rosa pendant comes undone. Kyoko emphatically corrects her coworkers who ask if it's broken a broken chain would be a sign that something bad is about to happen, but one that's merely come undone is nothing to worry about.
- Show Within a Show: Box "R", Dark Moon, and Tragic Marker are type 1 examples, with "characters involved in the production of the show."
- You Should Have Died Instead: As Tina cradles Rick's dying form, she shouts at Kuon that he should have been the one who died. Years later, her words still haunt Kuon/ Ren.Tina: If he'd never met you, Rick wouldn't have died. You murderer! Why didn't you die instead of Rick? Murderer!