My Stepmom’s Daughter Is My Ex: “The Only You in the World”

By Kyosuke Kamishiro and TakayaKi. Released in Japan as “Mamahaha no Tsurego ga Motokano datta” by Kadokawa Sneaker Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Gierrlon Dunn.

This series is definitely one which enjoys being for otaku nerds, and expects its readers to keep up. Fortunately, it also has Yume, who is not an otaku nerd, and who sometimes needs things explained. (There’s a Haruhi Suzumiya joke here, and it’s remarked on how old that series is.) It also leans heavily on the sort of stereotypes such fans enjoy. And Isana Higashira leans heavily into those stereotypes. She’s the weird one. She talks like she’s from the 19th century. She’s got a really big chest. The whole nine yards. She’s also a hoot to read. I was quoting this book on Twitter while I read it, and everything I was quoting was one of her lines. That said, there’s a reason why, despite her plotline supposedly wrapping up in the second volume, the author came back to look at her in more depth. It’s because real life is not like light novels, and people don’t really get over being rejected by their first love that easily.

Mizuto and Yume return from their trip worse off than before, thanks mostly to Yume’s inability to spit her feelings out and Mizuto’s talent for rationalizing anything as “not in love with me”. They’re back home, though, which means that Isana can come over. A lot. And hang out with Mizuto, and get in compromising situations with Mizuto, and go out on a date with Mizuto (and Yume, who invites herself along), and introduce Mizuto to her mother. It should not really come as a surprise that, when school finally goes back into session, the rumor among the class is that Mizuto and Isana are dating. And Yume, trapped by her own inability to get her own feelings across, can’t say anything. Unfortunately, suddenly being the center of attention, and having the reason for that be a lie that everyone believes, makes Isana very unhappy.

The subtitle of this volume comes from Isana’s awesome mom, who sounds like she starred in a light novel series of her own as a teen. Isana suffers from an inability to read social cues, and when she asks things that to her are not obvious, she binds that everyone gets upset and she’s isolated. Mizuto is the first person her own age she’s met who not only does not get upset by her but is able to interact with her as a friend. This is why she fell for him so hard, and it’s also why, despite everything she’s told him, she can’t get past being rejected quite yet. The author mentions in the afterword that he originally ended the volume with Mizuto being more cool and dramatic, but that Isana was telling him that something wasn’t working there, so he went back and wrote the ending we have now, which feels more in character.

Yume will still eventually get together with Mizuto, of course, whenever this series ends. That said, I can understand why the author says Yume “feels like she’s losing” after this book. Isana, if nothing else, deserves her own spinoff.

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