Do you ever finish reading or watching a story and find that it left you confused, have it make you think “what was the point?”  The latest manga to make me feel that way was Kyou Kara Yonshimai. Because of this it made me think a lot, so here’s some thoughts. Note that this will spoil the entire Kyou Kara Yonshimai manga.

What is Kyou Kara Yonshimai about?

Kyou Kara Yonshimai follows the Manabe family, made up of three sisters and one brother. 16 year old Sakura is mostly the main character, and the story begins when her brother comes home from college for the first time in two years. Sakura is excited for her brother Kashiwa to return, but finds that he’s decided to become a woman. The first chunk of the story follows Sakura struggling to accept that her brother is now her sister. There’s also a side plot about her childhood friend, who is one of the most infuriating characters I’ve ever seen. Uozumi loves Sakura, and forces a kiss on her near the beginning of the series, he then calls Kashiwa disgusting after hearing about her, and then he FALLS IN LOVE WITH HER AS WELL. I would dwell more on how much I hate him, but that’s not the point of this article.

Kyou Kara 1

The second half of the story follows the three younger sisters discovering that the eldest, Botan has been having affairs with people at her workplace. They reveal this in front of the family of a man she’s been sleeping with, and destroy two families in the process. Following this Botan abandons them and they need to save money. Sakura gives up on going to college so she can work to help support the family.  Some drama with Kashiwa’s girlfriend ensues, and then Sakura and Uozumi hook up. At the very end Botan calls the family on the phone and they’ve become a family again or something like that.  The end.

Kyou Kara 2

My take on Kyou Kara Yonshimai

I didn’t really know what to feel when I finished reading this manga. I’ve been sitting on my thoughts for a couple of weeks now.  I believe that the story the author was trying to tell was about the importance of family, but it fell a bit flat. The final pages make the theme explicit. This manga is about the importance of a family bond, and what makes a family. I didn’t really feel like I cared about this family though. Nobody in the manga was all that likeable, though Kashiwa and Momiji (the youngest sister) were at times. For the most part though, I didn’t really feel like they deserved that much. I felt bad for them when they suffered in the end of course, but I didn’t feel like I wanted to yell “you can do it!” I don’t know if that makes any sense.

What makes the story not work?

Near the end Botan gives an angry talk to them, about how she’s sacrificed herself to take care of them, and that they’ve been taking it for granted.  So the flings she have are all she has, but they even took that away. I can’t tell if I’m supposed to feel she’s justified or not. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to feel like the characters deserve what happened to them or not.  Is the story’s last chapters supposed to be them getting karma, or is it supposed to be unfair on them? I’m not really sure.

Kyou Kara 4

A story about a family falling apart requires a family that you really see a bond in, but I didn’t really feel a bunch from them.  Since the cracks start to form from chapter one, we don’t really get to see them before the fall. A lot of the drama falls a bit flat since the manga is to short for the audience to form a genuine connection with the characters. When Kashiwa’s girlfriend tells her that they’ll have to break up if she transitions, it doesn’t hit me as hard as Kashiwa, since her girlfriend was only in a couple of chapters.

Kyou Kara 3

Final thoughts

That being said it’s not a manga that I’d never recommend. The art is somewhat interesting, and the characters can be so infuriating it can be a somewhat fun hate read. And sometimes, even a little, the story telling can be good enough that you feel something for the characters. It’s also the first time in a while a manga that I didn’t like has made me think this much, it’s made me reconsider how I look at fiction, even if just slightly. And if a manga like this can change me, what does it say about it, and me?

Kyou Kara 5

Using Uozumi as my voice seems a bit wrong after what I’ve said about him, but I think it does fit a bit.  As he does change in the story, even if it’s just into a slightly more tolerable person.

Posted by Alex Jackson

Avid reader of otokonoko manga and fan of slice of life. Interests include otaku cultural studies and writing fiction. Alex Jackson is a pen name.

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