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Alethea & Athena
My Brother the Shut-in volume 5 
17th-Jul-2018 09:30 pm
We are feeling much better today after working on Missions of Love. We decided to set Nekogahara aside for a little bit (we have time before our deadline), and since we had a chapter of a simulpub to work on, we decided to do a first draft of the next thing on our list that we could probably finish in the rest of the time we had. And we did! And both of them were very lighthearted and fun, and didn't involve complicated political commentary.

And on Thursday, I promised a review of My Brother the Shut-In, so here it is! Spoilers ahead!

This is the book that was unfairly hated by us because we had a week less to do it than we asked for. I guess that's what we get for not knowing what's going on on the other side of things. At any rate, the result was that we had a whole other volume of manga added to the already massive pile of work that we had to get done, and so we disliked things regardless of their actual merit. But the bright side is that we had less work to do after the super crunch...so we had time to not be totally destroyed when Gaston and Alice came to visit. We were only a little destroyed. But now we're back on track! Sort of! So we have time to write the review. And we only have one more review after this one, so maybe we'll get to a point where we can use our free time for stuff other than writing reviews! And now I feel like, "Man, these reviews better be good," to make all of this extra work worth it.

So this volume started with Shino having a total meltdown. I admit, I feel like she was overreacting. But on the other hand, she's a teenager, and different things affect people in different ways, so just because it doesn't seem like that big a deal to me doesn't mean it's not actually a big deal. Just because I have been desensitized to the point of wondering why it even matters that her best friend kissed her boyfriend doesn't mean it wasn't a terrible thing to have happened. In my defense, as a reader, I'm able to see that Saki does sincerely feel bad about what she did. And in Shino's defense, I also know what it's like to assume that all the people you thought cared about you now suddenly would rather have you not around, and it does in fact suck. So Shino has a meltdown, grabs a pair of scissors, and just starts hacking away at her hair. She must have had a sliver of presence of mind going on, because when we saw the final results, they weren't nearly as bad as I expected them to be. And then she ran off to her mother the hair and makeup artist, and ended up with a super cute haircut! So it turned out to be happy in the end.

The funny thing (to me) is the fact that what set it all off was that Tamotsu called her a shut-in. It kind of bothered me, because everyone was like, "Dude, Tamotsu, seriously?" And I was like, "If anyone has a right to call people shut-ins, it's him, amiright?" Because he was a shut-in, and he knows the symptoms, and he knows it's possible to pull out of it, because he did. Not only that, but it's not exactly a slur. Or maybe it is. Thanks to The Voynich Hotel, we learned that calling someone a beggar is offensive enough that the word for it actually gets censored, despite all the other things in Voynich Hotel that don't. All the crude humor and brand names, but that's the only word that was ever censored. And when we looked up the definition, it literally just meant someone who begs for money, and it didn't even have any of the words that indicate that it's vulgar or offensive. So maybe shut-in is along the same lines as beggar, but not as harsh. But anyway, everyone else was like, "You of all people have no right to call people that!" and we were like, "But if anybody would know...aw, never mind."

But let's move on. Shino's mother seems to not really care about anyone but herself, or at least that's what it looked like from Shino's perspective, until! Shino went to work with her. And apparently she cares about everyone! Or at least she's good at making it look like she does, and at showing an interest in people. It's like I keep saying: all anyone really wants is a good audience. And that, in addition to hair and makeup, is the service Shino's mother provides. If only she weren't so bad at having a family. (Sorry; I get a little bitter when it comes to divorced parents.) I did like what she did, though. She said to Shino, "If you're going to stay with me, you're not going to just sit around." And she made Shino do stuff. So that was good. And then Shino did stuff and she got her motivation back and all that stuff, so yay.

Now Shino wants to be her mother's assistant, and I have to tell you, as far as we could find out, there's not really a word for hair and makeup artist that can fit succinctly into a translation. So that was annoying. I imagine we got it to work, but that was a few days ago and I'm still a little tired, so I don't remember. But Shino's mother already has an assistant, so now Shino has a rival! Dun dun DUN!! We're actually still not convinced that Kokeshi (the rival) is a woman. I mean, we assume woman because of the makeup she wears, and some of her posture, but her build is a little masculine. On the other hand, none of the women in this series are very curvy, so. But I guess, since we turned this translation in about a million years before it's going to be published, there will be time to fix it if the truth comes out otherwise. I'm also not sure how I feel about Kokeshi as a character, but I like the idea of anyone who wants to design hair and makeup for a circus.

The other two major things that happen are that Shino officially makes up with Saki, and officially breaks up with Natsui. The latter doesn't really seem to be fair, because, even though she was questioning their relationship before the accident, he didn't really have a chance to address those concerns before she just said, "You know what? Nah." Maybe it's supposed to show that Shino is an independent woman? I don't know. She didn't really seem super dependent on him. But he's a popular guy; we're sure he'll bounce back. It's not like I really know one way or the other, but I'm pretty sure most people don't marry their first boyfriend/girlfriend.

And then there's Tamotsu. He was doing stuff in this volume, too, I think? Right, he did a lot of stuff. But I forgot about it, because it was stupid. At least, we thought it was stupid. He gets his first kiss, and then he realizes everybody is having sex and wonders if he's somehow less of a person for not having had sex himself, and that just makes us roll our eyes. The whole thing was annoying, although I thought it was cute when Tamotsu insisted on keeping his swimsuit on in the bathtub. Other than that, the whole thing was annoying. I'm kind of glad it ended with Erina breaking up with him, but I do wonder--if he had continued to be himself, would she have still liked him after she managed to conquer him? Or would she be like, "You're not a virgin anymore. Bye."? Well, it's a moot point anyway.

And that's all. Usually I tended to prefer what was going on with Tamotsu over what was going on with Shino, but in this volume, the roles were reversed! See what I did? Because they switched places in the last volume. ...Never mind, it was stupid.

Anyway, the next volume is the last one. Will both Shino and Tamotsu manage to find happiness in real life? Stay tuned to find out! (We think Tamotsu's going to end up with Saki. What do you think?)

And there you have it. I'm definitely less annoyed with the series now than when we were being so rushed to finish it, but I still just don't have the same values as these characters. Oh well, it's a fun read, anyway.

There were new releases this week! What were they again!? Land of the Lustrous 6! And Wake Up Sleeping Beauty 5! And Kiss Me at the Stroke of Midnight 6! All very good series!

And tune in Thursday, for our review of Waiting for Spring 6!

Today I'm thankful for a video call with our sister and niece and nephews, getting to work on a fun simulpub, finally getting another installment of Missions of Love, the super yummy pizza we had for dinner, and having our release list up-to-date again.
18th-Jul-2018 11:17 pm (UTC)
I haven't been reading your reviews for this series because I think maybe I'll read the series itself eventually, so I really just popped into the middle of things here, but the way you describe Shino's mom reminded me of what's-his-name, Maki's lousy dad in IHYMTA♥. Like I guess they can care about people but it doesn't necessarily make for good relationships with their families? Hmm... is there an archetype in Japanese media of what hair/makeup artists are like? (it can't be too monolithic because there's a pretty decent variety in IHY♥ itself but I feel like there's... something that ties them all together. and then there's the older brother in Say I Love You, and the mom in A Silent Voice who also reminds me of Honjou-mom in a certain way (maybe just cuz they're both single moms with rather delinquent sons...), and now I'm rabbit-trailing...)

(Okay but now I'm way down the rabbit trail reading the character list for IHY♥ on wikipedia (english) because I forgot some names, for shame, and I got to Katsura's entry which reads "She sometimes seems to be losing souls." and hahahahaha I get it but whaaaa...? It's Senko who's always losing her soul! All the character bios are pretty brief and pretty random... Happy memories, though~)
19th-Jul-2018 06:34 am (UTC)
Shino's mom wasn't really in the series much until this volume. That is an interesting connection between Maki's father. Maybe it's just a "people who choose their career over family" thing, and it turns out to be hair and makeup people because that's the kind of career a lot of female manga artists are interested in? I only read the first volume of A Silent Voice, but the mom in that seemed pretty decent from what I remember (which admittedly is not very much) (not that we weren't interested in reading more, just that we don't have time).

Wow, I don't even remember Katsura. I Hate You was so very long ago, and so many things have been crammed in and out of my brain since then... I can't even imagine who she is, because Senko IS the one who's always losing souls. Ah, but it is a good series...
19th-Jul-2018 06:57 am (UTC)
If you ever have a chance to watch the Silent Voice movie, I found it a nice adaptation of the series (leaving out some side-plots that weren't as important to the main story) and you only need to set aside a couple hours rather than however long it'd take to read (not to mention procure) all the manga. It's a good story! (and the hair stylist mom is a good parent given all she has to deal with, yes.)

I didn't remember Katsura (or several other characters) at all until I was reading that... she's one of the gals Kazuha gets to know when she starts working at Miyabi Honjou's place, the "fuel-inefficient" one. (The Japanese character description was a better reminder, which surprised me because I assumed the English was translated from the JP page because it was so oddly worded, but the parts I checked were all different.)
19th-Jul-2018 07:27 am (UTC)
Aaaaahhh! We WANTED to watch it at Anime Expo last year! They had the voice of whatsisname there, and he's also the voice of Sora in Kingdom Hearts and he was at the movie screening doing a panely thing, but it was all filled up! We do still want to watch it someday. If it's on Netflix, that would be ideal.

I...might remember her. (Yeah, it's kind of surprising which Wikipedia articles are the same in both languages and which aren't. It can also be very frustrating, when there's an article we need that has too much kanji in Japanese and not enough information in English.)
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