My Stepmom’s Daughter Is My Ex: “Time to Get Serious”

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.

The subtitle of this volume serves as an accurate description of what’s inside. Of course, that’s not to say there still isn’t a great deal of broad humor in the book. I mean, Isana exists, for one. There’s also Yume deciding that the best way to seduce Mizuto is by wearing a miniskirt and cat ears, and (ça va sans dire) endless discussions of breasts, with much groping of the larger girls happening from the other girls. (Isana even notes this is the sort of thing she though only happened in light novels, implying that she’s read her own series.) That said, this is about a trip that all the main and supporting cast take, and the girls decide to use it to confess, seduce, or otherwise make things clearer to the object of their affection. Does it work out? Well, sort of. Some of the pairings are actually becoming pairings. It won’t surprise you,l though, that the main pairing remains up in the air.

The student council are planning a getaway trip to a hot springs town (given that their president’s family is loaded, this isn’t as hard as it sounds), and Yume is asked to fill out the numbers a bit, so Mizuto, Isana, Minami and Kawanami end up coming along as well. Aiba has decided that this is the trip where she stops being the teasing flirt and seriously confesses to her senpai, and so the other girls also decide to make an effort. Well, apart from Isana, who is supposedly here for art study. Kurenai ramps up her attempted seductions of Joji, wanting to lose her virginity without really thinking trough what that actually means. Minami has finally accepted the fact that she’s still in love with Kawanami, and her own attempt to be serious baffles and annoys him. As for Mizuto and Yume… LEWD HAND HOLDING.

The main couple are still hamstrung by Mizuto’s own reluctance and Isana’s presence in their life (going poly would solve most of these problems, but I can’t see the author or publisher OKing that), so it’s the other couples that carry the book. This is easily the best volume for Minami, who, once she decides to stop being an annoying bitch around her ex all the time and genuinely try to help him, turns out to be pretty awesome. Both Kawanami and Hoshibe (the senpai) are dealing with past traumas that have left them either unable to move forward or literally ill, and this book is about getting past that with the help of others. It’s also about being yourself, to a degree – Kurenai fails here because she was just trying far too hard. She’d be much better off trying to raise Joji’s bottomless well of self-hatred first. Basically, at the end of this book we have one definite couple, two “give it a book or two” couples, and Mizuto, Yume and Isana. Who remain in stasis.

The 9th book may change that, as we are reminded that where there are stepparents there are also parents, and one of them is still alive. Till then, this is a good volume in a romcom that’s enjoyable provided you can wade past the wall of breast jokes.

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