by Yumi Unita
I admit I picked this one up to make sure my twelve-year-old wasn\’t reading anything too objectionable, as I\’ve noticed that manga can sometimes have very mature or explicit content, let\’s say. And flipping through this one I saw one illustration showing a young girl in the bath with a grown man, so I wondered and sat down to read it myself.
Turns out it was innocent, and the story is an interesting and sensitive look at the kind of unusual family structure that can easily lead to misunderstandings or judgement from others. The man in that scene is Daikichi, a thirty-year-old bachelor who works hard, enjoys his beer and considers children and women to be \”the enemy\” – avoid interaction at all costs kind of thing. The six-year-old girl Rin is his aunt. Daikichi finds out when he attends his grandfather\’s funeral that the old man had a secret love affair with a younger woman, and Rin is his child. The family is all shocked and no-one wants to take in the illegitimate child. They\’re going to put her in an institution but Daikichi finds himself angered at how casually and judgemental the relatives talk about her and in a fit of compassion he decides to give her a home himself.
This is a huge adjustment. Obviously Daikichi has no idea how to be a parent- what kids will eat, what she needs in everything from comfort to clothing; finding a daycare provider is such a difficult issue he even realizes he may have to reconsider his career path. He comes up with all kinds of questions and goes through internet searches, then starts to make new acquaintances just on behalf of the child. They have to deal with bedwetting and Rin\’s silent little deceits (he\’s shocked to find out she lies to him in the simple manner of avoidance all kids use I bet). Daikichi notices that Rin isn\’t dimwitted or shy as most adults assume when they meet her, but struggling with emotions she can\’t express. He realizes that no one ever helped her cope with or comprehend what happened when her father (whom she called \’grandpa\’) died and he has no idea what her past was like. He determines to find out more about her mother, a completely absent figure whom no one in the family has ever met.
The author hooked me pretty effectively with this unlikely pair. And now I want to read more, to see where this story is going and what happens with this child. Happily the manga series has at least ten volumes. Borrowed from the public library. There was one thing that took some getting used to- following the original style of printing in Japanese, the book reads not only back-to-front but right-to-left, which was confusing at first. You get used to it fairly quickly, though.
Rating 3/5 208 pages, 2006