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Alethea & Athena
My Brother the Shut-in volume 1 
27th-Dec-2017 04:03 pm
twins
Well, fortunately the edit on Fire Force is not destroying us. It's not going quite so fast as we'd like in our current state of busyness, but it's going fast enough that we still feel like we can get everything done. But that's not the important thing today, because today! is Review Rednesday! And this week, we present a series that was just so fast, I can hardly believe we're already posting a review for it! My Brother the Shut-In volume one! Spoiler level: if you don't want to know the main premise before you read the book, read the book first.


Our schedule is pretty much a great big kaboom right now, and we just went and made it worse...not much worse, but worse...and we have a few minutes before Gaston shows up to take us to Disneyland again (which of course is the main cause of the kaboom, and yet we just can't say no...I think it has to do with a fear of disappointing others paired with a conditioned response that leads us to believe that just going along with it is really the quickest way to resolve it), so we figure we might as well start a review! Tadah!

Okay, so I think the next thing we translated chronologically was the series we tend to just call Futsutsuka Ani, because by the time we get "futsutsuka" out, we're too tired to get the rest of it right. And this is coming from people who think that no one should ever be too tired to say "Kilimanjaro." They asked us to come up with a title for it, but warned us that they might not go with it, and then the editor seemed to not like it but then like it and also be under the assumption that it was our decision and yet changed a ton of stuff in the first few pages of the book anyway... There's a lot of stuff that needs to be sorted out there, but it's okay; the editor is understanding about it, we just don't have the time to explain our method, so we have unresolved issues due to our own kaboom schedule. But the point is, at the writing of this review, the English title of the series is "My Brother, the Recovering Shut-in." I'm insisting on not capitalizing that last I, because I've been led to believe that that is the correct way to deal with hyphenated words...come to think of it, I think there's a style guide for a company we work for that explains the rules on that...whatever, we don't have time right now. The editor capitalized it, so you can pick whichever way you like best and I'll still say it's correct. (For the curious, the correct Japanese title is "Futsutsuka Mono no Ani Desu ga", which roughly translates to "My Brother Is Unexperienced," and can actually have all kinds of different wordings, but that's what it boils down to.)

Whew. Now that that's out of the way. What was this book about again? Oh yeah, Shino and her brother the recovering shut-in. So Shino and her family lived very happily until one day life sucked for her brother and he went crazy and then locked himself in his room for four years. All we know at this point is that there were some issues with his club or team or whatever he was doing after school (and suddenly we're hoping the editor didn't change our translation from "extracurricular;" we specifically chose "extracurricular" because we don't know if he was in an academic club or on a sports team, because they use "bu" (club) for both but in English if it was a sport we would say "team"; sometimes they use "club" in translations anyway, and it's always minorly annoying), and they must have been pretty serious, but since we don't know what they are, I think we would be just as judgmental as Shino and think, "Come on, everyone has bad days at school. Don't be so weak."

So now, in a last-ditch attempt to help her brother, Shino and her father have moved to another town for a change of scenery. Actually, Shino's motives were a little more selfish, because she wanted to get away from the stigma of being the shut-in's little sister. I have to say, though, from the flashbacks of her terrible life as the shut-in's little sister, the comments that were made really didn't seem that hard to deal with... But the point is to not be so judgy, Judgy McJudgerson, so we'll just say it got to be hard to deal with such a constant barrage of such comments. So she moved away to get to a school where she could pretend to be an only child! And that's exactly what she does. In her new town, the only people who know she has a brother are her, her dad, and her brother. And as long as she has time to get out of the house, she's perfectly happy the way things are.

But then! for some completely inexplicable reason, Shino's brother Tamotsu emerges from his room! Gasp! ...Actually, we all saw it coming, which is why we didn't think it would be too much of a spoiler to put "recovering" in the title, and why I don't think I need to go back and change all that summarizing to make it less spoilery. (There are several pieces of information that aren't revealed until after the first chapter, though, so if you want the details in order that the story reveals them, I recommend reading the book! ...Oh, but it's too late now. Hmmm... Well, hopefully you read the spoiler warning.)

Shino is entirely unsure what to make of this new development, and this is where I want to say that one of our main impressions of this series is that it's the story of what would really happen in a situation like Frozen. Shino and her brother were pretty close friends before he snapped, but then he decided to take himself out of everybody's life, so Shino had to come to terms with that. Now that she has, and he's suddenly put himself back in her life, she's really not that happy about it. First, she's worried that he'll come and mess up the new life she set up for herself (because you can't just sing about building snowmen for years; eventually you will need to find something else to do with your life), and second she's annoyed that he thinks he can randomly take himself out of the picture and then randomly put himself back in it and have everything be all happy like it used to be. I definitely think this is a more realistic portrayal of the situation, no matter how much she loved him before, unless she's got superhuman love powers, like Pollyanna or something.

Let's see, the first chapter is mostly setup, then the second chapter is Shino trying to figure out what's going on. ...Or I guess she's not really trying to do that, which is a little frustrating for me, because it's like, "Don't you even want to know why your brother is acting the way he is?" But she's trying to cope, or rather, she's trying to keep going with life as usual. That's something I think is pretty realistic, too. People really are that averse to change. But in the meantime, behind the scenes where we can barely see him at all, Tamotsu is trying to be a real person again, and we think it's super cute that he got worried about her when she came home so late. And he even worked up all his courage to go check on her! Awwwww!

Later, he decides it's not fair to make her do all the housework, and in addition to pulling his own weight, he makes her lunch. Awwwwwwww! And this is where we learn what kind of a relationship the siblings had before. He really did care about her back then. It makes me more and more curious about what happened to get him to go into hiding, especially since he went full-on yankee (I'm pretty sure "yankee" is not a female-only term, but I'm too lazy yo check) before that. I feel like this series is about, "Let's think about hikikomoris and why they choose that lifestyle to begin with," so that we can be more understanding and sympathetic, and I really like that. But of course, it doesn't make for good drama if they just tell us, so we have to wait for the full understanding. But that's how life goes, too, so it's fine. And the journey is pretty entertaining, too.

Then there's a school sports day, and Shino can't believe her luck when not only does her class get teamed up with her crush Natsui's class, but she actually gets paired with him for the dance routine! (Their school has the teams do a dance routine. I don't know why that would be a thing, but I like it.) ...And then she gets the flu. Fortunately, she recovers in time for the sports meet, but not in time to get her own fabric for the costumes she has to make (the students have to make their own costumes for the dance routine; it feels unfair, and yet after seeing all the hand-made costumes at Tokyo Disneyland, I think this, too, is a good idea), so her friend Saki comes to her house for the first time ever! Saki is a good friend; she's suggested visiting Shino's house before, but she took the hint when Shino made really bad excuses for why they just couldn't, and now she knew Shino didn't want her there and that she was taking a risk to go anyway, but she also knew that Shino would really want that fabric. And then the best thing happens! Tamotsu runs into Saki on the street, and notices her staring at their house, so he's able to take the fabric and Saki doesn't have to go all the way to the house.

But of course, this is exactly what Shino didn't want, because Tamotsu is the exact reason that she didn't want Saki at her house. But this is what makes it the best. Tamotsu knew that Shino was telling everyone she was an only child, so he tried to say he was her uncle. Awwwwwwwwwww! And what makes it even better is that Saki saw right through all the lies and didn't let it bother her. She is such a good friend. Shino realized she had to confront Saki and tell her everything, and Saki was like, "Yeah, I kinda figured something was up." And now Shino has a confidante and they're closer than ever. And then they have the athletic meet, and it's all very happy.

And when Tamotsu sees how happy Shino is, and that it's possible to find happiness outside of the house, he decides to get a job, and he asks Shino for help and calls her his sempai at life. And instead of being all annoyed at him like usual, she decides to help him out! And now they're on the path to maybe being friends again!

And that's where this volume leads us. But it's only volume one, so I feel like the good things can't last too long. What will happen next!?

Anyway. It's a nice series. I recommend it.


Aww, it's good to remind ourselves that we like this series. Usually we're so rushed with it that we just want to yell at it. But like I said, it is a nice series.

As for this week's releases, we only have the one, but it's a good one--Land of the Lustrous 4! That should probably take us about to where the anime ended, but since we haven't seen the last two episodes of the anime yet, we couldn't say for sure (and we'd probably have to pull out the volume and check, too). Anyway, if you haven't checked out this series yet, I invite you to do so!

And tune in next week, for our review of Waiting for Spring volume three! Wow, is that out already? I have no sense of time anymore.

Today I'm thankful for once again being introduced to a nice new series I never would have considered if it hadn't been assigned to me, making decent progress on Fire Force, the hope of getting everything done this week, getting to meet a new kitty thanks to the meddling kids in our apartment complex (when we went out to get the mail, they were walking around asking people if they knew the cat they had just caught), and hot water.
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