This is a story about this girl and me—two strangers until yesterday—and how we became family…
There’s nothing lewd about the cover for volume one of Days with My Stepsister, and most of the illustrations within are light on or wholly devoid of fanservice. The opening quote of the story is about forming a family, and Yuuta, the protagonist, has his head on straight when it comes to interacting with his new 16-year-old sister (younger than him by a week). But is that really all there is to the series? It’s headed that direction, is it not? Good questions, and although volume one is mostly a warm and enjoyable read, signs do point toward something many readers will find off-putting.
Days with My Stepsister opens with Yuuta reflecting on his dad informing him that their family of two is about to double. He takes it well, particularly the bit about getting a new sister, whom they assume will be an elementary schooler. Fast-forward to the day of the move-in, however, and Yuuta and his dad are shocked to discover that Saki Ayase is a beautiful, blonde teenager who attends Yuuta’s school. She also doesn’t have the best reputation there, as he learns from his best friend, Maru, who explains that rumors say she sells her body for sex.
This would be a perfect setup for a sexually charged tale, but volume one takes a different route. In fact, a talk that Yuuta and Saki have about sex workers is relatively brief and light, though interesting (similar could be said regarding their worldview about LGBTQ issues). And the book is filled with fluffy pieces assembled in a “pick your tropes” fashion, fitting together quite nicely: Undervalued but really kind and talented protagonist + misunderstood but awesome girl who cooks well + keep your relationship secret from others + supportive friends = brisk, fun read.
Yes, this is basically The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten, except that Yuuta and Saki are helping one another with “assignments” (she cooks and he tries to find a high-salary, part-time job for her) and, of course, they’re siblings.
And there’s the rub. Returning to the opening statement: you might be fooled into thinking that this series really is about becoming a family. Or you might be more skeptical, wondering why the writer put “family” in italics. The truth is, I’m not quite sure where the series is headed. Yuuta and Saki could eventually engage in a relationship and marry. Saki could legitimately become a sex worker. The two could become true siblings in the proper and correct, non-otaku understanding of the term. Or the series could feature some combination of the above.
What does seem to be a lock, however, is that Yuuta and Saki will become closer and closer romantically before making some final decision, whether it’s to separate and act like family members as they should or go the gross Oreimo (sorry for the spoiler!) route.
Whether you’re okay with navigating the incestuous romance is going to go a long way in determining whether you’ll want to check out this series, because otherwise, it’s a very pleasant and engaging read. Days with My Stepsister is better written than the aforementioned similar series, The Angel Next Door Spoilers Me Rotten, partly because it features side characters that deserve (and seem like they’ll receive) significant development in future volumes.
Of course, the “but” in this case is a pretty major one. You are forgiven upfront if you skip this series based entirely on the sibling route that awaits us. As for me, this is such a quick and fun read that I’ll continue to press forward—at least until the ickiness pushes me to end my days with Yuuta and his stepsister.
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