by Yumi Unita
published by Yen Press; $13.99 US
Here’s what you need to know about the title to understand my dislike of the premise. Daikichi is now 40. He’s been taking care of the informally adopted Rin for ten years, raising her as if she was his daughter, since she was six years old. Although the ages are backwards, she’s his aunt, since she’s the child of his deceased grandfather.
SPOILERS from here on in.
Rin has recently decided that, although she’s never been in love, she wants to spend the rest of her life taking care of Daikichi. She’s raised him just as much as he has raised her, in some ways, so this might be seen as the continuing intentions of a devoted daughter, afraid of facing the world on her own and wanting to stay where she’s comfortable, but no. She thinks she wants to marry him.
What strikes me as most wrong about this plot is how many people find out about her intentions and effectively shrug and say “oh, ok, if you really feel that way”. She’s 16, and she’s never dated. Shouldn’t someone — including her birth mother and the neighbor friend she’s grown up with — tell her how much of a child she is and how life will show her how much she doesn’t know yet? Particularly since she deals with her feelings being revealed to others by running away. Twice. That demonstrates to me just how immature she is, although I’m not sure the author realizes that she’s given the reader that impression.
This twist might have been more interesting, instead of repellant, if we’d gotten some idea of how Rin came to feel that way. However, she’s still cold and remote, with little indication to the reader of how her emotions developed or why she thinks she feels as she does. She’s a plot device more than a character, and that makes this a struggle to be sympathetic towards. I think many people would wonder at the idea of falling in love with someone who spent a decade raising you in a parental role.
I might also understand this choice if this title were seinen. I can see young men finding the idea of a beautiful child-woman being devoted to them in every way, from cooking their meals to wanting to be married to them, very seductive. (And heck, there’s a tradition in Japanese literature of men raising orphans to be their wives that dates all the way back to The Tale of Genji, the first novel.) But I’m told this series is supposedly josei, aimed at adult women. Maybe the perception is that they need a happy, romantic ending no matter what, although that’s an unfortunate stereotype. (The publisher provided a review copy.)
Update: Sean Gaffney has a post with more spoilers, if you want to know.