Shino is a normal high school senior. Her parents died when she was young, so she moved in with her older brother and his wife. Then her older brother died, leaving her living alone with her young, beautiful and extremely sweet sister-in-law, Nozomi.
Did you ever have that moment, when reading a manga, when you’re about two chapters in and you think, “Why on *earth* am I reading this?” Yes, that was me about two chapters in to Ani no Yome to Kurashiteimasu. (兄の嫁と暮らしています。). Then, while staring at the cover, it suddenly dawned on me that this trope-tastic story was by Kuzushiro-sensei. I shrugged, decided to trust her and kept reading.
Shino and Nozomi are both perfectly nice characters and I wouldn’t really mind, particularly, if they did get together, but the trope of falling for the sibling-in-law is soooooooo tropey, I kind of cringe at that. I mean, this was a chestnut back in the early 90s, when stories like “Jukkai Me no Jukkai” were what passed for Yuri.
Shino starts to head down the slippery slope of attraction first. Nozomi is an elementary school teacher, she’s cute and cheerful and she and Shino are actually pretty good friends. Nozomi’s enthusiastic and easy to get along with. Shino starts noticing Nozomi more. Her expressions, her reactions…Shino’s edging closer and closer to “like” and is aware of it. She worries about their relationship. Are they…friends? Relatives? When Nozomi introduces her as a sister, Shino is both happy and sad.
Nozomi may appear clueless, but she’s not. She’s not seeing Shino’s interest in her, but is definitely aware that she’s aware of Shino. This distresses her, as she feels she should be the adult in the household, responsible and solid.
The pot comes to a gentle boil when Shino decides to buckle down and really study for exams. Nozomi happily offers to help. As the books ends, they are both locked in a battle inside their heads over what they feel and what to do about it. I’m not even sure, yet, if this is a “Yuri” manga. I’ll just have to wait and see.
Art – 8 Cuter and less messy than her usual
Story – 7 Cuter and less messy than her usual
Characters – I’m tempted to repeat myself again, but no. They are just kind of…normal
Service – 2 In the form of “look how attractive she is just now”
Yuri – 2 Just barely edging in
Overall – 7
I’m willing to give this story the benefit of the doubt and hope fervently that Kuzushiro-sensei pulls out a new iteration of this tired old trope that blows me away. If anyone can, I think she’s the one.