The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten, Vol. 1

By Saekisan and Hanekoto. Released in Japan as “Otonari no Tenshi-sama ni Itsu no Ma ni ka Dame Ningen ni Sareteita Ken” by GA Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Nicole Wilder.

It couldn’t last forever, even though it seemed like it would. After a few years of the trend being “light novels will only get licensed if they have some sort of fantasy or gaming element”, we are finally starting to see a few series being licensed that are old school high school romances. Credit to this no doubt can be given to the one-two punch of My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong As I Expected (which has had three seasons of anime) and Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki (whose anime is forthcoming), which has helped to open the door to other series whose premise is not “I ended up in another world with superpowers and a bunch of girls who fall in love with me because I am nice to them.” Well, OK, this is MOSTLY not that. The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten may not be an isekai, and our protagonist doesn’t have a sword, but it’s still a classic male fantasy.

Amane is a well-off kid living on his own in a big apartment, but he’s got classic teenage boy problems. His skin is pallid from not eating healthy, he’s a complete slob, and he’s somewhat unsociable, at least compared to his friend Itsuki. Then one day he comes across the class “angel” sitting in a park in the rain. She’s gorgeous, smart, athletic, etc. He’s not sure why she’s sitting getting soaked and looking depressed, but he gives her his umbrella. And then he promptly gets a terrible cold. Fortunately for him, not only does Mahiru live right next door to him, but she wants to thank him for the umbrella, so she makes him some nice porridge. And forces him to clean his apartment. And begins to cook for him every day. They’re not a couple, but… isn’t she just spoiling him?

This is a well-written book, and the characters are likeable. If there’s one big negative it’s the actual premise – it is right upfront about “seeming loser guy gets waited on by his amazingly beautiful high school classmate and neighbor” being the plot going forward, and it can be a bit much. This being a standard Japanese romcom, Amane doesn’t take advantage of this, and in fact is perfectly happy to tell himself he’s not falling in love with her, even though we can see that isn’t true. Likewise, Mahiru slowly warms up to him, showing off her natural personality rather than the “good girl” she perfects at school. It’s implied her relationship with her parents is poor, but he doesn’t pry. Actually, I take that back, this isn’t a romcom. While there are funny moments, for the most part it’s a plain serious romance, with two awkward introverts slowly realizing that they’re basically living like a married couple half the time.

By the end of the first volume they’re still just good friends, but that’s to be expected. It’s also very much a ‘small world’ here – the only characters in the book are the two leads, Amane’s overbearing mother, Amane’s friend Itsuki, and Itsuki’s girlfriend Chitose, who is outgoing, loud and bubbly and therefore quite jarring compared to our Angel. If you can get over its premise, this is a quiet, easy read.

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