Yumi Unita – Yen Press – 2011 – 9 volumes
As good as I kept hearing that this series was, I couldn’t bring myself to read it because I’ve been in this situation. My “Rin” and I didn’t share a common language. It was difficult for me, and I didn’t really want to read a romanticized version of it. All the same, I like good manga. Not reading how this story starts bypasses the ugliest of the memories for me, so I figured after that there probably wouldn’t be too many parallels.
At this point, though, the series is more about the effect Rin has on Daikichi’s adult life, and how living with her changes things. Actually, the second half takes a close look at parenting in general, including childhood illnesses, parent illnesses, exercising and encouraging children, and even a cute final chapter about losing baby teeth. The first half isn’t really about Rin and Daikichi at all, but rather Daikichi’s cousin Haruko and the difficulties she has living with her husband’s family.
The stories are adorable. I couldn’t warm up to the Haruko story as my introduction to the series, but I thought the chapters after it were fairly adorable. I like that Rin is a regular little girl and not in possession of knowledge beyond her years, meant to teach Daikichi a lesson. I also like that the stories are really just a look at their lives, and mostly about Rin playing with her friends and being at school, along with commentary from Daikichi about what all of it means to him. The relationship between Daikichi and Rin is also ridiculously adorable, and the parallels between Daikichi and the unruly Kouki were very funny.
What I thought would be my biggest issue with the series wasn’t a problem in this volume. But I did find Daikichi’s reactions slightly mundane and a little simplified. A separate issue is how he seems to comically overreact to every little thing, especially in the first story. It’s not a big over-reaction, he just seems to have an expression of shock and worry on his face whenever he’s reacting to something, which is in every other panel. That might just be how he is, though.
The mundane observations he makes about being a parent bothered me because they seem to over-simplify a lot of the issues, and also struck me as a little bit of a stretch in some of the situations he made them in. Not every scene really needs to be a Kodak moment. They were also observations that were more “facts of life” than anything else. Not really observations… but new to him, which was the point. But these are all issues I can hear my friends with children talk about all the time, and aren’t really all that interesting in a fictional setting. I’ve talked about my issue with letting the mundane real-world seep too far into comics in my review of Ristorante Paradiso, so that’s more of a personal taste issue.
I did like the stories quite a bit, though, and I adore the relationship between Rin and Daikichi. I’d like to pick up the next volume, just to see if Daikichi perhaps grows out of his mundane observations. It also sounds like Rin grows up as the storyline continues, and I’d like to see that, too, although it’s Daikichi’s development I’m more interested in.
I hate being too critical, because it really was a great story. There’s not too many grown-up stories like this out there in manga form, and this was a good one. I’m just being picky, and I think most anyone that thinks this sounds interesting will enjoy it immensely.
This was a review copy provided by Yen Press.