In Volume 1 of Ani no Yome to Kurashiteimasu. we meet Shino, a high school student living with her late brother’s wife and, awkwardly, beginning to fall in love with her.
In Volume 2, we spend quite a lot of time developing both Shino and Nozomi, her sister-in-law, into people. Nozomi’s professional life and adult relationships are developed and we spend time with Shino’s friends, some of whom are aware that she’s feeling attracted to Nozomi. The point of all this is something that made me quite happy as I read it – they get actual time to be fleshed out well past “high school girl” and “sister-in-law.” They both get emotional lives beyond this situation and peers in which to confide. Like people do. So that was really nice.
The complicated relationship both women are struggling with is made secondary to developing them as characters. We get flashbacks on how they met, and how Nozomi came into Shino’s life as a sister-in-law.
They are both very aware of each other, but also want to be a family in the larger sense. Day to day things – meals being made, playing with their cat, planning for the local festival all start to take on a comfortable sensibility, even if separately they can’t stop feeling like everything feels like more than it is. It’s the moments when they both just relax around each other that their emotions become instantly fraught. Obviously.
Shino is holding herself together well until, on the evening of the festival, she sees something that has no place in her world…Nozomi with a man. Shino thinks that Nozomi with a man other than her brother is something she doesn’t want to see, as the scene fades to black.
A short extra chapter includes a story about Shino and Nozomi hugging, ostensibly to reduce stress, which is instantly not helpful for several reasons.
This is such an unusually thoughtful rendition of this tired old trope that I’m still not sure what to make of it. I trust Kuzushiro-sensei implicitly, but what kind of gold she can spin from this lead, only her alchemical daemons know. ^_^; We’ll be able to find out soon enough – Volume 3 is hitting shelves at the end of July.
Art – 8
Story – 7 Surprisingly thoughtful
Characters – 7 Likeable
Service – 2 More implied than actual
Yuri – 2
Overall – 7
I find that I actually want to know what will happen to them now. Of course I want them to be happy.