My Stepmom’s Daughter Is My Ex: “The Six Things I Couldn’t Say”

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.

I’ve talked about this before with other series, but there is a reason why so many authors of Japanese light novels write high school romance, and it’s not only because that’s a large part of their market. It’s because high school kids don’t have the life experience most of the time to make sensible decision or to understand the bigger picture. Things that a person thinks back on in middle age as part of their embarrassing past are, for a high school kid of 17 years old, about a quarter of their life, and thus it can seem like an insurmountable object. And, of course, it also helps the author put off the couple getting together as long as possible. Yume’s there, and ready, but Mizuto has a looooong way to go, even after the revelation he has at the end of the volume. The flashbacks through the book to their middle school years shows just how much self-loathing he holds inside himself.

It’s school festival time, and naturally the step-siblings are put in charge of what to do. “Cosplay cafe” seems to be the choice, but too many classes also want to do that, so it’s up to them to find an idea that’s unique and can get past student council approval. This also involves taking into account things like long lines and plans to stop “inappropriate” behavior. As for the festival itself, Mizuto and Yume are working the morning shift, then get the afternoon to talk around the festival together. It could almost be a date!… except they’ve got Isana there with them, as otherwise she’d just be loitering in the library feeling inadequate. It’s OK, Isana. Mizuto already feels inadequate enough for both of you.

It’s probably fortunate for Yume at the moment that the school thinks Mizuto and Isana are dating, as Mizuto’s looks and general “hospitality” attitude while at the cafe are sending the girls’ hearts soaring. Serious-minded emo teen is a thing, I have to remind myself. The strong parts of this series continue to be the dueling POVs, as we see Yume convince herself that Mizuto is stone-faced and stoic while she’s a nervous wreck trying her best, and then we see Mizuto amazed that Yume has managed to change so much and mature while he remains trapped in the past and barely able to function. As with almost all series of this type, a little communication might solve everything, but Mizuto can barely manage even the smallest amount. Fortunately, Isana may still be in love with him, but she’s also playing cupid for the two of them, so she’s there to offer the right advice. Now, what will be done with that advice is another question, especially since it looks like Yume will be joining the Student Council soon.

The author says the series is no lo0nger about two kids who hate each other and is now about two kids who one-sidedly love each other. Hopefully it won’t be six more books before they get together. Till then, this is a very good romcom.

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