Excellent review! I enjoyed the first volume of this a great deal too, although I do wish Yen Press had gotten the LN out first given it takes place beforehand.
It’s definitely good timing to have the spin-off coming out now either way, since the Sasaki and Miyano relationship is in a good place and watching Hirano and Kagiura struggle through the early stages of figuring it out is going to be more refreshing than it would have been had both series been in a similar situation.
@Demelza: Thank you (blushes) - and I'm very glad you enjoyed this too. I also agree that it would have a good idea to get the LN out first, but publishers do what they do.
I couldn't help wondering as I read this how I would have felt about this volume if we hadn't had all the Sasaki and Miyano volumes first (and the anime) to get to know Shou Harusono's slightly oblique (and subtle) way of presenting her characters and hinting at what's bubbling under.