My Stepmom’s Daughter Is My Ex: “A Proposal Isn’t Enough”

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.

For a series whose strongest point is not its fanservice, this series sure has a lot of it. That said, at least the fanservice serves a narrative purpose. Even the sex scene in the book – not between our two leads, I hasten to add, but between Aso and Hoshibe – ends up demonstrating, somewhat painfully, that the blush of first love is not always perfect, and that sometimes simple physical difficulties can “ruin” your perfect memories. Meanwhile Yume has been revving the fanservice up, in an effort to get Mizuto to drop his stoic poker face, and ends up going overboard, to the point where he finally snaps and screams at her in desperation. As for Isana… well, yeah, that is fanservice pure and simple, but it also serves to underline for Mizuto that he can’t simply pretend to be a logical robot who makes every decision using bullet points. And that’s important, because there’s a rather annoying thing undercutting this wannabe romantic reuniting… they’re both family now.

It’s Christmas, and Yume has a lot to worry about. She’s set a deadline of the new year to either get Mizuto to rekindle their relationship or just give up, and he’s not cooperating very well, to the point where she’s forced to do things like wave her cleavage at him and hope he reacts. Her birth father wants to meet with her and Mizuto, and given that he’s never particularly cared about Yume before, she’s not quite sure why. And Mizuto has started spending all his time at Isana’s place. The last is for a very good reason – having seen Isana’s art and how good it is, he realizes that she needs a manager in order to achieve anything, as she has no real drive to succeed of her own. So it’s time for Pixiv accounts and Twitter alts, as well as drawing more and more so that she improves. But doesn’t everyone still think they’re dating?

The “is this incest or not?” part of the conversation is not really resolved here, mostly as, well, the premise of the series means that “not” is going to have to be the correct answer. I think the fact that they’ve only been siblings for 9 months takes the curse off it a bit. More difficult is that these two are both big, BIG nerds, and it not only comes out in their school work and reading but also in how they live their lives. Mizuto has never really felt passionate about much till he gets the idea to “manage” Isana’s art, and he proves to be very adept at it. Unfortunately, he’s also listening to Yume’s dad, who is projecting hard onto Mizuto and giving him advice that may not be that helpful. As for Yume, she doesn’t want to cut Mizuto off from Isana, who is her friend as well, but can’t quite work out how close they should be after he and Yume become a couple without resorting to math. Never decide how friendly your lover can be with other women using math.

The author is quick to assure us the series is not ending despite the couple confessing (reconfessing?) at the end, so we’ll see what the fallout is. But this was an in-character, if not entirely satisfying, way for these two to fix things.

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