Days with My Stepsister, Vol. 1

By Ghost Mikawa and Hiten. Released in Japan as “Gimai Seikatsu” by MF Bunko J. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Eriko Sugita.

I’ve read two previous light novel series written by Ghost Mikawa, and I’ve enjoyed both of them. The author sort of has a type for his main character. Someone who’s a bit overly intellectual, very logical, tries to understand things and put them in boxes. The fun of My Friend’s Little Sister Has It In For Me is seeing this character try to deal with a love triangle that cannot simply be resolved by a game of addition and subtraction. With Looks Are All You Need, it was seeing the main character and his sister immersed in a ‘academy for the performing arts’ environment, and how to navigate an industry that requires emotional heft. This new series also has a very logical, matter of fact protagonist who tends to consult self-help books to understand people, and he now has to deal with his new stepsister, who is – seemingly – exactly the same. This shows a bit of promise, especially as we see the two are not as matter of fact as all that. Sadly, it’s not done well.

Yuuta lives alone with his father, as his parents got divorced after his mother was having an affair. He is thus rather startled that his father has decided to get married again. Even more surprising, he’ll be getting a stepsister in the deal, who judging by the photo the mom sent is a cute little kid. Of course, when they actually meet we find that the stepsister is in fact his age, and simply hates having her photo taken – that’s the one photo the mom had. Saki, though, turns out to want from this new relationship exactly what Yuuta wants – nothing. No requirements, no expectations. There will be no “big brother” names here. And honestly, this works out fine at first. But as the awkward, introverted Yuuta learns more about his new stepsibling, he ends up trying to help her anyway.

The big issue with this book is that the two leads tend to talk to each other like they’re reading out of an encyclopedia. There’s a scene where he walks by her room and sees her underwear drying (it’s raining that day), and gets embarrassed. The way the two resolve this feels like they’re not looking at each other, but reading out of a textbook. It’s meant to show us that both of them have been deeply wounded by the breakup of their parent’s first marriages, and how they have difficulty trusting others or getting close to people. In reality, it just makes me grind my teeth. Yuuta’s co-worker at the bookstore he part-times at, a college woman, is sadly exactly the same, so that doesn’t help. I was so happy when a happy, genki girl from their school came over to play video games with them, as it was a relief to hear someone with real human emotions out of control.

Still a fan of this author’s other series, but I have no desire to continue this one. Consider this review the essay I’m handing in to the author as to why I’m terminating our reading agreement for the foreseeable future, in a way that benefits both parties.