Ani-Imo Volume 1

Ani-Imo volume 1

Ani-Imo by Haruko Kurumatani has one of those “only in manga” premises. Be sure to keep it away from parents or busybodies, because it plays with implications of incest as comedy.

Youta is a caring boy. He fixes breakfast for his family, and he particularly takes care of his twin sister Hikaru (so much so that rumors swirl around their high school regarding his “sister complex” and how freaky the twins are). She’s quiet and reserved, but he finds her adorable and can read her moods, except for one big secret.

Their parents haven’t bothered to tell him that the two aren’t actually related. They were born on the same day, yes, but with other partners before the parents got together, so they don’t share any blood. Which allows Hikaru to plant a kiss on Youta, since she wants to date him.

Ani-Imo volume 1

But wait! That’s not all! There’s an accident, and after, the two wake up in each other’s bodies. Thus the tagline: “Big Brother becomes Little Sister; Little Sister becomes Big Brother.” Youta (as a girl) wants to figure out how to fix things, but Hikaru (as a boy) sees this as her opportunity to see her brother’s body naked and get what she wants in a relationship.

Sadly, what could have been the fodder for entertaining comedy or exciting drama winds up flatly sitting on the page. Youta’s constant nattering and worrying becomes boring. Like the writing, the art is standard, with nothing that particularly stands out, and the girls appear particularly young, troublesome for the plot.

The other cast consists of Mayama, who’s constantly trying to grab or kiss Hikaru against her will, and Oda-san, a pretty girl. Youta was crushing on her, but she was playing up to him to get closer to Hikaru for some girl-girl action. The sexual drive of these characters leads to my assumption that the author was more interested in pushing boundaries than developing realistic characterization. Particularly when it comes to the creepy doctor who knows their secret and seems to want to get with either or both of them. (The publisher provided a review copy.)

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