But enough of that. It's time for a review! My Brother the Shut-In volume four! Spoilers ahead!
Well, our boss on this series just told us we have a week less to finish the next volume than we need, so we figure we better get this review written before we start work on the next volume. This volume was a little hard because Shino started to be really stupid, and it wasn't that I couldn't understand why she was being stupid, but it was just hard watching her make more and more bad decisions. And of course it wasn't easy seeing some of the things that led to those decisions, either.
So Shino's in the hospital now because she got into an accident, and because she's in the hospital, she can't do her hair and makeup like she always does. I didn't really think about it at the time, but since that's what she wants to do as a career, and with her whole life, it probably would be really hard on her, not being able to at least make herself pretty. Also, I totally understand not wanting her boyfriend to get too close when she hasn't been able to bathe, but if she can't be open with him about why, then does she really trust him enough for the relationship to work? Also, we were under the impression that sponge baths are good enough to remove BO, but I guess they probably aren't the most effective. But anyway, Natsui was so cute, racing to the hospital to see her to make sure she's still alive. That's the kind of thing that makes me think he really cares about her, but then there was his attitude on the bus and the whole thing about being desperate for sex, so there are hints that maybe he's only in it for the sex. It's kind of hard to tell with that guy. And so the important thing that happens while Shino is at the hospital is that Natsui tries to hug her, and she pushes him away. It's not exactly clear if she did it because she was self-conscious about not having bathed, or if she was because, "Dude, I'm in the hospital! Do you have to get physical ALL the time?" Maybe a little of both, especially considering that the whole reason she was in the hospital was that she was thinking about whether or not their relationship was too physical.
Meanwhile, Tamotsu has reconnected with his old friend from middle school, and as it just so happens, Seiji (his friend) is into kickboxing! What! That's almost just like Tamotsu's dream, and what he finally decided to work toward! It's like destiny! And also we meet Seiji's wife, who is pregnant. The important part about this is that they were all at the hospital when Saki showed up to visit Shino, and Seiji's wife's joke about being pregnant triggered a flashback where we learn that Saki's stepmother is pregnant! And Saki's not happy about it, but she thinks she's a terrible person for not being happy about it, so she's got a lot of inner turmoil that she's dealing with. And to top it all off, we learn that she had a crush on Natsui, too. That's really not very surprising, actually. It just seems to be the way this kind of thing goes. So she's freaking out because of her pregnant stepmother, and she runs into Natsui at the hospital, and she kisses him! What! Oh no! Shino's boyfriend is cheating on her with her best friend! And that was another ambiguous part, because Saki ran to Natsui for comfort, and then they're kissing, and then she's all, "What? I'm kissing him? But I only meant to get a hug!" so we don't know if she initiated the kiss unconsciously or if he did because he was starving for sex, but the result is the same.
Fortunately(?), Saki is a good friend, and she decided to come clean and tell Shino about it after Shino got out of the hospital. Unfortunately, now Shino has just one more problem to deal with on top of her parents getting a divorce. She and Saki and Natsui all act normal around each other because Shino insists that she doesn't want this to ruin their relationships, but she still gets the feeling that the normal act is just an act, and she can't take it anymore. This was an interesting part to me, because she talks about how they're very careful about it to make sure no one else finds out anything is wrong. And then later, when no one else is around, Natsui shows up and he's still acting normal, and she's like, "It wasn't just an act for other people?" And it was interesting to me to think that some people assume that everyone is putting on a very careful act for all the people around them. It also goes along with why it took me forever to figure out what in the heck the lyrics to Mulan's "Reflection" meant. I like to think I'm myself for everybody (but I do realize I act differently for different audiences, but it's all really me).
The point, though, is that Shino gets so fed up with the whole thing that she decides she's done with it. And she stops going to school! Oh no! Meanwhile, Tamotsu has been training at the gym and going to work and everything, and even making new friends and stuff, so his life is going great! And that's why the chapter title was about role reversals. And I just really wish that Shino had made better choices about the whole thing. I get that she doesn't want things to be awkward, but in that case, she has to commit to not holding the kiss thing against Saki and Natsui. If it is going to bother her, then she needs to work it out properly. And so I was very glad that Natsui came along and tried to still be a good boyfriend. I mean, even if he is in it for the sex, at least he's working for it and not being all entitled. And so he pulls her out of her funk and they even have a Christmas date! Awww!
But then Shino is still acting weird, so he asks if she wants to break up with him. And she can't just say no. And it's really a big bummer.
Meanwhile, Tamotsu is still going to the gym, and it's really very cute. And one of the other guys at the gym decides to talk to him, and he's super nice! And his name is Karen, which is a little confusing, because even in Japanese, it's usually a woman's name. So now Tamotsu has gym buddies! And they all go out together for Christmas Eve, then decide that it's lame to be a bunch of dudes hanging out together on Christmas Eve, so they go to a night club to find women. This was odd, too, because in all our manga translating years, we have never actually come across a night club. We weren't sure they were even a thing in Japan. Well, apparently they are. And who should be at this one but the girl who flirted with Tamotsu at Himeno's barbecue! And! she kisses him! What! Shino and Tamotsu's lives really HAVE switched!
Well, more on that later, because that's where the volume ended. But one thing I forgot to mention was that Shino has been noticing that her parents are pretty quick to make concessions for Tamotsu, but they're always very hard on her. And you can see that it's not really just her imagination, either. She even confronts her father about it, but he doesn't say anything, so it's still a mystery. For some reason, this is the thing I'm most interested in learning more about. Maybe because it's the one unanswered question. In fact, we even know now why Tamotsu left his room! And it's such a sweet reason. Awww. He tries to be a good brother. I wonder if he picked up on the unfair treatment, too. I guess we'll find out soon, because there are only two volumes left.
Whew, just reading that review makes me feel how rushed we were when we wrote it. It's so rapid-fire! I guess it just goes to show...actually I don't know what it goes to show. I don't have the capacity to figure it out. We're rushed again. We updated our to-do list just for the books we have due before (or during) Anime Expo, which starts in two weeks (!!!!), and there are five things on the list. How do we always end up doing this to ourselves?
Anyway. This week is another week of no new releases for us, but! oh my goodness, next week will be a new release explosion! So tune in to find out what all that includes! AND! Tune in for our review of Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun 5!
Today I'm thankful for a lovely trip to the temple, getting our work done (even if slowly), most of the things on our list being historically not-too-difficult, chocolate covered pretzels being on sale at the grocery store last week, and getting to eat the best cereal for breakfast this morning.