Today's Review Rednesday!! What were we supposed to review today? Hold on while I check. My Brother the Shut-In 2! That's exactly what I thought! Well let's get right to it! (Spoilers ahead.)
Futsutsuka Ani...is starting to just be called "brother thing," because we just do not have the energy to try to say all that stuff. I feel like it was just yesterday we were writing the review for volume one! It wasn't, but I do have to tell you, the schedule on this one has been extreme. We turned in volume one, and we didn't have time to write a review, so we still had it on our whiteboard to-do list while we worked on My Monster Secret, and then while we were working on Wake Up Sleeping Beauty, we got the email asking for the next one, and it was only like...okay, it was actually due about three weeks after the first one, which is usually a decent amount of time for a manga, but this month has just been full of bad planning decisions (mostly involving other people who wanted to go to Disneyland, and our inability to say no (we just keep thinking about that Noragami gag comic from volume 12 where the stray tells Yato, "The real doormat...is YOU!")). So anyway, since we couldn't cross it off until we had a review, we finally wrote the review, but by then we already had the next one to do, so we just left it on our list uncrossed off and had it do double duty. And we look at our list now and think, "Really? In the last three weeks, we've only translated My Monster Secret, Wake Up Sleeping Beauty, Futsutsutsutsu thing, Fire Force, and three episodes of Hozuki? What have we even been doing with ourselves?" It's one of those things that's like, we feel like we've been so busy that surely we should have accomplished more, but when you look at it like that, you're like, "Oh, I guess that's kind of a lot."
So this volume. I feel like this is the volume of "Shino learning new things about her brother through his getting new jobs." So we start out with Shino getting jobs for everybody. Okay, not everybody, just her crush Natsui. We hope they keep the nickname Nutsy, because it just seems so perfect (it's nattsii in the Japanese, so it's basically the same). And as a result, oh my goodness oh my goodness, Natsui confesses his love to her! What! I really appreciated his reaction to her confession about having a brother. Like, "So...?" Frankly (and maybe I mentioned this in the review of volume one), I thought it was kind of pointless for her to lie about it anyway, because people generally don't ask. And I appreciate that Natsui's always understanding whenever she talks to him about her brother. He seems like a pretty good boyfriend. We're worried about them potentially getting too physical too soon, but so far it doesn't seem to be an issue.
The more important thing is that Shino uses her new boyfriend as an excuse to go into Tamotsu's room when he's not home (read the book to find out how!). And that's where she sees a poster of Ashita no Joe. And it wasn't even a parody of Ashita no Joe; it was like, full-on, legitimate Joe Yabuki, right there on a poster. We thought, "I guess that was a Kodansha manga." We had to look it up to write a note about it, and sure enough, it was! And the best part about it is that Joe is what led Tamotsu to getting his first job! Tadah! It's at a ramen shop, and this is where things got really confusing for us, because I guess we just don't know that much about shut-in culture, despite being basically a couple of shut-ins ourselves. He said he'd eaten there a few times, and we were like, "But didn't you move to this house while you were a shut-in?" Hmmm... Later, we find out that he had a goal to go to all the ramen shops, and he actually made a little bit of progress on it while he was still shut in, and he has an aside that's, "I was the type to wander around outside," and we were like, "Is that a type of shut-in?" but we had no idea how to look it up, so the readers are going to remain just as confused as we are unless one of our editors comes along and explains it.
Anyway, that ramen shop is where Tamotsu first came into contact with Ashita no Joe, thanks to some manga they had on the shelf. This is an aspect of Japanese culture that I am vaguely aware of, based on the cafe at the Sunshine City Aquarium. The dining area has a wall that's covered in bookshelves, with all kinds of picture books on it, and I guess you can just pick them up and read them (to your kids, in this case). But since we're intimidated by restaurants even in English, we're not sure if this is a very common thing or not. They do have manga cafes, so... I don't know. But the point is, there was manga at the ramen place, and now Tamotsu's a fan of Ashita no Joe. And I think that is super cute, and I really wanted things to work out for him at the ramen shop. I mean, come on, it was like destiny! (I feel a much greater sense of destiny when anime and manga characters are involved, probably because we're not as up on the music scene.)
But it was doomed to fail. Working at a restaurant means dealing with people, and when you have the kind of social anxiety Tamotsu has, that's not an easy thing to do. He kept messing up, and oh man, the couple who own the ramen shop tried so hard to help him get over it...okay, maybe just the wife, but the boss was super patient with him, too. But ultimately, Tamotsu defeated himself and he ended up quitting. I was just as upset as Shino. ...Okay, maybe not, since I'm just reading about it, and she was there and has that relationship and everything. But it was disappointing.
Oh! I remembered something important. When Tamotsu kept messing up, he had flashbacks to his extracurricular problem, and I'm so glad we didn't go with club, and I really hope the editor didn't change it to club. Because he WAS on a sports team! But it's still ambiguous. The coach got all on his case because he was whining before the taikai, and taikai usually translates to "tournament," but it looked like maybe Tamotsu was on the track team, and in that case, it should have been "meet." Still, he might have been on, like, the soccer team or some other kind of team that would be doing exercises that look like a track team, so we couldn't go with one or the other and we went with "big day." This time we wrote a note to the editor, so it should stay that way. The point is, though, as expected, that coach is a jerk.
So Tamotsu quit and he's all shut up in his room, and Shino's mad at him and I'm kind of on her side but trying to be a little sympathetic, and then Shino has a fight with Natsui and I really only cared about what Shino was doing at that point because it...no, I still don't really care what Shino was doing, but I think it might turn out to be important later... Oh wait, yeah! It leads to a really cute scene later, but the point is they're fighting now, so she has no one to talk things over with because now that she has a boyfriend, Saki-chan is all but forgotten. This is what manga artists mean when they say female friendship is fragile.
But let's get back to Tamotsu, because he's the one we really care about right now. Despite his major setback, he manages to get himself to the grocery store, where he falls in love at first sight with the girl at the cash register! And he's so smitten that he applies for a job at the grocery store to get close to her. And this was the best thing ever, because he actually applied for a more behind-the-scenes job! Huzzah! Surely this will go better! And then Himeno starts showing Tamotsu the ropes and his inner demons start making him feel bad again and I was like, "Oh no, it's not going to work!" But then he shook them off! And Himeno kept being nice (because most of the time, people are actually being nicer than we think and usually aren't thinking the horrible things that Tamotsu assumed they were thinking (not that I don't get where he's coming from)), and it was just so...happy! And it was...well, first it was a little confusing to us, because we were major Pretear fans, and the female lead in Pretear is named Himeno, so it's registered in our minds as a girl's name, but it's his last name anyway, so it shouldn't matter. What's worse is that, after the ramen shop incident, we're always so worried that something is going to go horribly wrong.
So now Tamotsu has a job at the same place as his beloved Inaba-san, which must be destiny because Inaba-san is the same name as half of the rock band B'z of which Tamotsu is a fan. This is the second thing that Shino learned about her brother thanks to a new job. And because that's what happened, I was like, "Oh, well I guess he has to lose this job and get another one so Shino can learn something else about him." And that might be part of why we're SO nervous about this one. Especially because it keeps going better and better. Himeno rescued him from an awkward customer confrontation, and they're total ramen buddies now because Himeno is completely obsessed, AND! he even took Tamotsu back to his first job ramen place and helped him patch things up with the owners! Everything is so perfect! It's too good to be true! Aaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!!
But first, we have an interlude to deal with Shino and Natsui. After not getting to speak to each other for weeks, Natsui is finally back at work...but he's so popular with everyone that the two of them can't get a minute alone together, and Shino keeps missing her chance to apologize. So finally, Natsui comes in and tells something about some people doing something very inappropriate, which of course all of their coworkers want to go see. But he was lying to get rid of them so he could have a chance to apologize to Shino! Awwwwwwwwwww!!! I must tell you, looking up all of the information on the details of that imaginary spectacle was a liiiittle uncomfortable.
And back to Tamotsu. He manages to talk to his beloved Inaba-san, and she gets very affectionate with him very quickly. We don't trust her. I appreciate that Shino acknowledged that she was being petty when she judged Inaba-san, but we think she was right. I mean, hers is the only register that doesn't balance out, huh? She's obviously stealing. And the worst part is, she's somehow got Himeno involved! I'm so afraid that they're in on it together and playing Tamotsu for a sap. But there's hope, though, because it also seems like he really does not like Inaba, so maybe she's just using him to get to Tamotsu. But only time will tell! Dun dun DUN!
So yeah. It was another interesting volume. We have a hard time working on this series, probably because we always feel like it's down to the wire (and because we saw a few too many changes when we looked at the edited version of volume one, which has us antsy about things; we're willing to believe that the majority of the changes were at the very beginning and there really weren't that many overall, but when we see so many changes all in one place, we always have conflicting emotions which bring motivation waaaaaaaaaaaay down), but we really like it. I really hope there's not a soul-crushing moment in Tamotsu's future.
Whew, this series. It was kind of an emotional roller coaster for us. But we hope people are enjoying it! Volume three came out just yesterday! It's coming out at breakneck speed! And you know what else came out yesterday? Volume five of Waiting for Spring! With a very pretty picture of Aya on the cover!
And tune in next week, for our review of Hanako-kun volume four! That series is really good, you guys. Don't let the lack of publicity fool you.
We're starting to get a to-be-posted backlog, so I'm wondering if we're going to want to start doubling up or something. But I'm also worried about releases slowing down again, so I'm torn. We'll just keep thinking about it for now.
Today I'm thankful for having another evening off, being all caught up on review writing, having pizza to eat for dinner tonight, getting a lovely picture from our nephew (perhaps more on that tomorrow), and there being a new anime with our beloved favorite voice actor just waiting for us to watch it on Netflix.