Living with Hatsuka is Inaba, a de facto wife. Inaba cooks, cleans, and would, if Hatsuka let her, enjoy marital relations with her. Hatsuka does not let her, but will occasionally succumb to kisses. Inaba awaits the moment that they can marry, as Hatsuka has promised (although Hatsuka does not admit to having made this promise.) Into this convivial household comes Koruri, who remembers a promise made to her by Hatsuka-oneesan when she was very little, that they would marry. Hatsuka doesn’t remember this promise, either.
What ensues is a love comedy in which the love is real, if a little on the hectic side and the comedy is a little on the funny shoes and clown horn side.
To this reader, there is no “Marriage Battle” – Inaba and Hatsuka are a couple. Koruri would make a perfectly fine daughter, honestly, but her feelings for Hatsuka get in the way of any of them forming more healthy relationships In fact, the best relationship in the book is Inaba and Koruri, who get along pretty well, considering.
Despite extremely moeart that made it hard to identify ages, Hatsuka is an adult with an office job. As she explains her current living arrangements to a coworker, he surprised me by calmly pointing out that she was clearly in love with both of her “roommates.” And he wasn’t weird about it, either. He just pointed it out and we moved on.
This volume ends with a frenetic trip to the beach, in which Koruri’s schemes to be alone with Hatsuka repeatedly fail, while making it clear that Hatsuka and Inaba are the real couple (to the regret of Inaba’s friend, Amoi-chan, who clearly very much wishes Inaba would look at her instead, but who is being a very good friend.)
As Inaba and Hatsuka finally have a moment alone (unaware that Koruri is outside, listening) they come very close to having what is the first honest moment between them, but as the pressure mounts for Hatsuka to commit, she breaks away under the pretext of going to the bathroom. When she returns, she find Koruri in front of her room asking for a kiss.
There were some elements that were good and others that were bad. It was hard to like anyone, but it was hard to dislike anyone, as well. Hatsuka isn’t a klutz or a doofus, but she’s not willing to really see the situation. Inaba would be terrific, but her hyperactive speech would wear on anyone. Koruri was annoying, period. She’s childish and it makes no sense that she just shows up with a crush and this promise and won’t understand that she’s not in the running, really. The three or so panels in which we finally learn her real relationship to Hatsuka were rendered in such a silly fashion, that they were hard to take seriously. In short, Koruri is Hatsuka’s niece, whom Hatsuka was holding for her sister on the beach. Her sister then went out into the water and drowned. This flashback was not presented to explain Koruri’s emotions, but as the rationale for why Hatsuka never goes the beach.
The one genuinely problematic issue with this series is…well…take a look at the pages above. Do you see the problem? If not, let me point out the GIANT FACES. This is not a tactic used for emphasis…it was like this on nearly every page, sometimes every panel of a 3-panel page. In fact, the wife and I referred to this book as “The Book of Giant Heads” for the days it took me to finish it. About page 30 pages in, I held up a 2-spread page and said, “What do you notice?” She flinched and said, “Those are some giant faces” or something similar. It was beyond distracting. Also, the faces look 6 years old, as they are wont to in this style of art. Hatsuka is, at minimum, 20 (we know this, because she drinks beer and no one comments that she shouldn’t.)
If you like moe art, or you like the idea of having two cute girls battling for the affection of a third cute girl, well, then this love comedy will probably work well for you. I didn’t hate it, but I’m on the fence about getting Volume 2, if and when it is published.
Art – For me, 3. The giant floating faces were intolerably distracting
Story – 5 (It was 6 until the drowning episode, which was presented so bizarrely)
Characters – 6
Yuri – 8
Service – 4
Overall – 6
I picked this up in Japan during my last trip on a lark. I wasn’t going to get it, but it was there and I was there and here we are. ^_^