Story/Art: Monika Kaname
Translation/Adaptation: Julie Goniwich
What They Say
Twin sisters Himari and Mio are perfect copies on the outside, but their personalities couldn’t be any more different. When Himari decides to stay home from school due to an unfortunate incident, Mio decides the best way to convince her to return is to take her place!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
16-year-old Himari Akeno has high academic aspirations–or at least she did until a traumatic incident with a schoolmate renders her a shut-in. Although she longs to be a normal student once more, she can’t muster the courage to leave the house, even several months later. But then her twin sister Mio “comes down with a cold” and convinces Himari to fill in for her at school. There’s just one problem – the look-alikes have completely different personalities!
There’s no shortage of identical twin switcheroo tales. However, Sunbeams in the Sky has a dark backstory for a manga that is otherwise light and carefree. It’s told from the perspective of Himari who suffers physical assault after rejecting a schoolmate’s romantic advances. Unfortunately, because he is the son of the school chairman, the incident gets covered up. In short, no justice for Himari, and although her physical injuries heal, her emotional scars have her too terrified to return to school.
In most manga, this sort of incident would turn a character into the family NEET. However, Himari has two things working against such a fate. One, she actually does long to go to school again. Two, the determination of her devoted twin, Mio. Mio can’t bear to see her sister waste away in isolation, so she cooks up a scheme to intentionally catch a cold and convince Himari to take her place at school while she recovers.
The plan is kind of convoluted. But it actually does suit Mio, who is a believable combination of loving, concerned sibling and innocent airhead. And because Himari adores her sister just as much, she musters the strength to go along with it.
That’s the linchpin of the story: the bond between the twins. Without it, the story would be too far-fetched to swallow. However, Mio’s clearly motivated by love for Himari, and Mio’s the one person for whom Himari will absolutely push her limits. Although the twins have opposite personalities, each is clearly motivated by the well-being of the other, even when they argue and disagree.
Once the scheme gets underway, Himari’s trauma pops up here and there, but for the most part, the plot’s mostly the stuff of twin situation comedy and high school shojo romances. Mio has a loud and effusive crush on classmate Asaka, so the reserved Himari must impersonate her sister’s gushing whenever he’s around. Now, it really would cause drama for both twins to fall for the same guy, but it’s Asaka’s best friend Tsukiyono who catches Himari’s attention and vice versa. Also in the cast is Shizuku, Mio’s closest classmate and the only other person in on the twins’ swap scheme. Shizuku immediately hits it off with Himari, partly because Himari immediately realizes Shizuku has a one-sided crush on Tsukiyono (something that Mio has never noticed). That might sound like a set up for a Shizuku-Tsukiyono-Himari love triangle, but the vibe between the girls seems too caring and respectful for the plot to take that path. Plus, Himari struggles with a phobia of boys that would preclude her from fighting for a romantic interest.
Thus Himari’s trauma is the main source of tension in the story. No bullies, no rivals, no mean girls, no unscrupulous teachers or faculty, no weird hazing or competitions. Everyone in the cast is overwhelmingly kind and supportive of one another. As Mio assures her twin, “There’s nobody at my school who’ll be mean to you.”
Extras include the first page in color, artwork on the inside covers, translation notes (which for some reason are placed between Chapters 4 and 5), and character profiles.
A teenage girl takes the place of her identical twin at school. But this is heavier and more complicated than two sisters trying to pull a fast one over unsuspecting classmates. Himari’s isolated herself at home after an emotionally scarring attack, so her concerned twin Mio concocts this scheme into nudging her back into society. It’s a weird way to think of trauma rehabilitation, but so far these characters make it work.
Content Grade: B
Art Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B+
Text/Translation Grade: B
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: April 18th, 2023