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Ani-Imo Vol. #05 Manga Review

5 min read

Ani-Imo Volume 5 CoverWhat’s meant to be a “positive” volume takes an on an unintentionally dark tone

Creative Staff
Story/Art: Haruko Kurumatani
Translation: Christine Dashiell

What They Say
Quite by accident, Youta and Hikaru have finally returned to their original bodies. It should be a happy event, but just because they’ve reverted back to normal doesn’t mean their brother-sister relationship can so easily return to the way it once was. Hikaru is adamant not to lose the momentum she’s gained over the past few weeks, but Koizumi is equally resolved to see Hikaru as only his sister. Now that she’s back in her own body and not his, though, it’s impossible for him not to notice how attractive the whole Hikaru really is…

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Though their bodies may be back to normal, Youta finds that things are not back to how they used to be, as Hikaru continues to be ridiculously aggressive. Rather than trying to do something interesting with the siblings having changed back, the author instead introduces Youta and the to the new school nurse, Ichika Saotome. In part because she reminds him of Hikaru before all this started, Youta becomes somewhat interested in her, which of course upsets Hikaru. As a result Hikaru pushes even stronger (with the rather awkward angle of her essentially blackmailing him into doing what she wants), and Youta falls even further down the path towards incestuous love. And due to the internal conflict of all this, Youta ends up driving himself to the point of collapsing from exhaustion, and wakes up in the nurse’s office. And in a real surprise twist, both him and the nurse are naked in bed, and she says that they got busy! Obviously Youta panics and starts talking about taking responsibility, which in turn pisses off Hikaru enough to lead to the one great moment of the volume, as she just straight up goes for a hard enough head-butt to trigger another switch!

And with this, Hikaru takes up the reigns and continues where Youta left off, blatantly trying to bait her brother into being jealous. Which of course works, forcing him to get more and more desperate, until he finally admits to Ichijou that he’s in love with Hikaru. And to wrap up the other plot, it turns out that Ichijou knows Ichika, and outs that she made up everything regarding what happened with Youta, which it least brings with it some amusing reactions.

After this, we finally get to the obvious point of the romance becoming official when it turns out Ichijou sent Hikaru a recording of Youta’s confession. Which is a silly way to finally burst that barrier, but there’s been so much pointless dancing around what was blatantly going to happen that it’s honestly appreciated. And in an especially awkward bit… Youta just kind of accepts it, and all of his inner turmoil about Hikaru being family is set aside and the book is like “nope, they’re a couple now.” It really does feel like something important and potentially interesting was just swept under the rug, which is definitely unfortunate. To add to that, they tell their parents pretty much right away, to which the response is essentially “go for it, just don’t bone each other in front of your little brother and sister.” And continuing on the “let’s just rush through this as quickly as possible” train, they go straight to a love hotel. Of course this does lead to yet another scene which is kind of rape-y, as Youta realizes he can’t deal with having sex when Hikaru’s in his body, but apparently Hikaru finishes the act anyway. From the art and the writing it’s obviously aiming for humor, but the result honestly feels like non-consensual sex again, making for an absolutely lovely way to end the book.

In Summary
With this volume, the series really does seem to have hit a bit of a nadir in terms of quality. Most of the book goes to pushing through with the incestuous relationship, which is to be expected I suppose. And yet, the author seems kind of unwilling to deal with any of the complexity or more difficult parts of the matter, and they’re literally swept under the rug and bulldozed over. Despite the fact that the book has used Youta to discuss these issues, even in this very volume, it just hits a “this is happening” moment and the book just rushes forward and weirdly forgets all that. And on the matter of disturbing points that have always hung around the book, it’s with this volume that it becomes really abundantly clear that Youta has been pushed into practically developing Stockholm Syndrome, even if that’s not the author’s intent.

His voice is disturbingly pretty much silenced throughout, and there’s all sorts of cases both here and previously where he’s forced into sexual acts either through blackmail or literal physical force. And sure, the author occasionally inserts a bit here or there of “but he’s so in love with her and just repressing it”, but the critical step of him coming to grips with the relationship being awkwardly absent is just the final bit that makes it clear how messed up their relationship truly is. Hopefully the author holds at least some recognition of this issue and plans on tackling it in whatever’s left of the series, as it is a rather serious one that seems like it’s just going to up and disappear. Either way, for now we get yet another volume fraught with serious issues with the way it approaches “love”, and also one that’s otherwise bland enough that even one or two funny moments aren’t enough to salvage it.

Content Grade: C
Art Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B+
Text/Translation Grade: B+

Age Rating: Older Teen
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: November 17th, 2015
MSRP: $12.99