To be completely honest, the synopsis of “Sonan Jyanaiyo” put me off at first because it sounded pretty weird: a girl finds out that she’s not actually related to her handsome brothers and is now in a love triangle with them. Who will she choose?
Thankfully (or sort of not), it wasn’t exactly like that sappy kind of borderline incest story it sounded like it would be (“Brothers Conflict,” anyone?) because it veered off with plenty of plot twists that left me confused about who was actually related to whom. I have to admit, though, that this manga gave me plenty of genuine laughs.
I get that having twins with different-colored hair makes it easier for readers to distinguish between them, but come on. The fact that they are both hot but look different should tell everyone something! And their names, too, Tetsu and Retsu. Cute, I guess?…
Anyway, the way that both of them reacted to the news that Shizuka may not be their sister was strange to me. I get that they both love her, but in a moment’s notice they were willing to be her boyfriend and it was a little disorienting. Apparently their love for her in that way was always hidden, and the moment the truth came forth it made things clear.
The bulk of the story is dedicated to new characters coming in and the Maku family trying to figure out who is related to whom. Their usual family dynamic revolves around the secrets that their mother keeps, and for some reason she’s a woman who says a lot of humorous stuff but never anything of importance to them until much later. We also get to see more of the Shizuka, Retsu, and Tetsu by themselves, knowing that the relations between them are different once the truth is revealed.
Although the information that is uncovered muddles the characters’ understanding and riddles the plot with more questions, it makes for an interesting tale that differs from traditional shoujo tropes. I was taken aback by whom Shizuka actually ended up with because the romantic buildup wasn’t that obvious. The truth about who was whose brother still eludes me even though it was made clear at the end because I can’t remember whose aunt was in love with someone’s brother and other. The new guy who was introduced never ceased being a slimeball. You get the point.
What I found most amazing was the main character Shizuka. She isn’t the typical pretty girl even though she has two great brothers vying for her affections. Everyone looks at her and thinks she’s plain, and when they get to know her through her brothers’ eyes, they see that sparkle she has. Even if she can’t fight every meanie, she’s stronger than most girls her age and can teach them a thing or two if her brothers aren’t around. She can certainly speak her mind, though at other times she hides her feelings behind a smile if she doesn’t think she should say something.
The whole ordeal she goes through within the manga really toughens up her character, though. She faces rumors swirling around her and her brothers, comes to terms with her feelings about who she loves, and learns about what family really means. Shizuka really shapes up as an individual and the difference between her in the beginning and the end of the manga is startling.
While I did like “Sonan Jyanaiyo” a lot more than I thought I would, unfortunately it’s not one of my top reads for a multitude of reasons. The art isn’t super great to me; though I can tell the Maku brothers are attractive, most others are not. The ancestry of familial relations of who is who was way too confusing at the end. The way their mother was being so secretive was almost conniving.
But, I did laugh a lot reading at the antics of Shizuka and her brothers. Interacting with their difficult mother and some other idiotic characters was also a little bit fun. “Sonan Jyanaiyo” isn’t your poster shoujo that everyone should read, but it’s got its perks and would probably make a really great drama.