Shojo & Tell: A Manga Podcast

House of the Sun Part 2 (with Kelly Quinn Chiu)

Episode Summary

Covers volumes 8–13 of HOUSE OF THE SUN by Taamo One Panel Later co-host, librarian, and manga reviewer Kelly Quinn Chiu and Shojo & Tell host Ashley dig deeper into the small moments that make this sleeper hit from Taamo so special. OK, honestly, Ashley mostly just rants about how Daiki is perfect and how he was robbed in this manga, while Kelly details how perfect Mao and Hiro’s relationship is. Both express shock and dismay at how, in a manga full of crummy characters like Mao’s dad and Sugimoto, Mao’s mom somehow ends up being the worst of them all. Both appreciate the understanding Mao’s dad and Hiro’s sister, Hina, have. There’s also a long discussion about the woes of publishing quiet romance manga that never get the hype they deserve. Just one more time, for emphasis: DAIKI IS THE BEST.

Episode Notes

Covers volumes 8–13 of House of the Sun by Taamo

One Panel Later co-host, librarian, and manga reviewer Kelly Quinn Chiu and Shojo & Tell host Ashley dig deeper into the small moments that make this sleeper hit from Taamo so special. OK, honestly, Ashley mostly just rants about how Daiki is perfect and how he was robbed in this manga, while Kelly details how perfect Mao and Hiro’s relationship is. Both express shock and dismay at how, in a manga full of crummy characters like Mao’s dad and Sugimoto, Mao’s mom somehow ends up being the worst of them all. Both appreciate the understanding Mao’s dad and Hiro’s sister, Hina, have. There’s also a long discussion about the woes of publishing quiet romance manga that never get the hype they deserve.

Just one more time, for emphasis: DAIKI IS THE BEST.

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Episode Transcription

Ashley: Welcome to Shojo and Tell, where we discuss shojo manga, tell who's hot and who's not, talk about themes, and just generally geek out. Today, October 27th, 2018, we'll be Shojo and Telling about volumes eight through 13 of House of the Sun by Taamo. I'm your host Ashley McDonnell and I'm joined once again by Kelly Quinn Chiu.

Kelly: Hello everyone!

Ashley: Hello. You're back.

Kelly: I know. You didn't scare me away the first time, I came back for the second half.

Ashley: Nice. You were like, I've got to know who gets it together in the end.

Kelly: I know. I was like, is Daiki gonna get hit by that car?

Ashley: Yeah, exactly.

Kelly: And now we'll finally find out.

Ashley: Spoilers. Daiki did not get hit by a car because that was always a ridiculous thing.

Kelly: No.

Ashley: But, this is about the second half of a series, so if you have not read House of the Sun, I do not recommend listening to this podcast because we're going to spoil everything.

Kelly: No, but I do recommend reading House of the Sun.

Ashley: Yeah, exactly. I do recommend you go and buy House of the Sun from Kodansha and just download that onto your phone, and read it, and be like, I am so amused during my subway ride reading this. Oh my god, Daiki is the best! Like, have those feelings. But hey ...

Kelly: Yeah, so when we left our heroes, everyone was—

Ashley: There's only one dude named Hiro, Kelly, come on.

Kelly: Well. When we left Hiro and friends, everyone was at romantic loose ends and Mao was pining over Hiro, and Sugimoto was like, "How do I confess my feelings?" And Daiki was getting himself all sad, and Chi-chan was crying. So then—

Ashley: It was distraught. Everybody was distraught—

Kelly: It was. Everyone was upset and no one was happy.

Ashley: But these volumes, it was just like, all right, it's confession time. Just all over the place, you know?

Kelly: Yes! A million confessions.

Ashley: And they sorted that stuff out.

Kelly: Yeah, everything pretty much gets sorted by the end of the manga which is nice, 'cause it's only a 13 volume manga—

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: And it kind of, definitely—

Ashley: "Only."

Kelly: Has it's little arc and ends gracefully without extending itself forever and ever.

Ashley: And also, I was a little afraid. I was like, "Oh, no. It has a whole sad premise." I was like, "Is there gonna be some, like, oh, no, and one of them DOES get hit by a car, just to be melodramatic—"

Kelly: Are you feeling all right?

Ashley: I was like, "Good."

Kelly: Just really stab that knife in, it's like, "Remember how our parents died?" It's like—

Ashley: Yeah, exactly.

Kelly: Now Hina died and brought us all together.

Ashley: I don't need that. Please don't do that. And it didn't, I'm like, "Thank you."

Kelly: No, it didn't. It resolved a lot of things. So, yeah, do you wanna start by talking about our favorite moments? 'Cause I know that all of yours, Ashley, have to do with Daiki.

Ashley: They definitely do. Hey, one of yours has to do with Daiki, too, and I agree with it—

Kelly: That's true.

Ashley: But I really loved when Daiki's actually confessing his feelings, and then Mao's just kind of like, "Daiki's been acting weird lately. Wait, Daiki's been acting weird a lot. Wait, is Daiki just weird? Is that just how Daiki is?" And it's like, oh my—

Kelly: Daiki's been acting weird his whole life.

Ashley: Yeah, like, "His whole life, has he always been like this? And I just didn't notice? What's happening?"

Kelly: Mao's so dumb.

Ashley: And I was just like, "Mao, I literally can't laugh this much. Please, don't do this to me. I can't take it."

Kelly: Poor Mao. Mao is totally oblivious protagonist. She's like, "Wait—"

Ashley: Super oblivious.

Kelly: "Wait. Like me? What?"

Ashley: "He likes me? He even said it was a joke before. I totally never did that to Hiro—"

Kelly: Right.

Ashley: "I don't see through anything."

Kelly: "And I believed him, 100%."

Ashley: One hundo. Oh, goodness. And then there's also a side chapter. Daiki has the best side chapters. Spoiler alert. Where it's Mao and Daiki are playing a video game, and Hiro walks in, is like, "Why are you guys being more intense about this than usual?" And Mao's like, "Well, the loser has to do whatever the winner says." And then Hiro's like, "Let me play, too." And then, Mao and Hiro are both thinking, like, "Ooh. If I win, I want Hiro to do pervy things to me—"

Kelly: I know, "Ooh. What can I make them do?"

Ashley: Yeah, like, they're being real pervy about it. Like, "What about this? Or this?" And you're just like, "All right." And then, Daiki's like, "It would be nice if we could go on a date." And then it's just like, Daiki is the purest. Daiki is the purest!

Kelly: Daiki's such a pure boy. Also, actually, there's so many pure boys in this series, 'cause there's also that extra chapter about Chi and Oda, where—

Ashley: Right, and Oda's like, "She's not thinking that."

Kelly: Yeah, where Oda is the purest boy and all of his sisters are like, "No, dude, she definitely wants to make out with you." And he's like, "No. She's so pure—"

Ashley: She's like, "She wants to kiss you everywhere."

Kelly: And he's like, "I just want to hold hands." He's the purest, and Chi-chan's like, "Make out with me!"

Ashley: Yeah. He's like, "She just wants this cute plushy." And they're like, "No."

Kelly: Aw—

Ashley: What a childish thing.

Kelly: Pure boys. But yeah, speaking of Daiki, I think it's also in a omake, or is it in the ... I don't know if it's in one of the regular chapters. Where Daiki's cousin brings him a homemade sweater—

Ashley: Oh, yeah.

Kelly: From his aunt—

Ashley: So the giving of the sweater is in the regular thing, but then revealing how ridiculous the sweater is, I think, is in the side chapter.

Kelly: Yeah. Where it's like, his aunt hand knits him a sweater, and it's like a Weasley sweater, basically. And the cousins are like, "He's never gonna wear that." And then later in the side chapter, you find out that he likes a picture of himself wearing it to his aunt, which is the cutest thing ever.

Ashley: And she's like, "See, it's fine." And I'm like, "Daiki's such a good boy."

Kelly: I know. She's like, "I know that boy." I'm like, "Aw."

Ashley: Everybody knows Daiki's a weak, weak, pure boy.

Kelly: He's so nice. And his aunt, she's not in the manga enough. His aunt who he lives with.

Ashley: Yeah. She's pretty good.

Kelly: She totally treats him as a son. She's like, "I know that boy, I raised him. He's gonna wear that sweater."

Ashley: "He's gonna wear that sweater, or he's gonna get a strong talking-to."

Kelly: Also, I don't know, I feel like my favorite parts about this manga are always the random moments, like, I really like when ... It's like a totally aborted romantic moment, when Mao and Hiro are supposed to be having this big moment, and then they do the cop out thing where Hiro falls asleep—

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: In the middle of making some big pronouncement.

Ashley: I was like, "What."

Kelly: I know. It's like, "Augh. Every time." But then Mao leaves a note for Daiki on his face in bed.

Ashley: Yeah. It was so good.

Kelly: It was like, "The dog pooped."

Ashley: Yes. Mao is really good about report cards of how Croquette is doing.

Kelly: Mao is a really responsible pet owner. She goes and walks the dog. I don't know, she's so good with that dog.

Ashley: I'm just saying, we know that her future job is Wag Walker, that was my conclusion. Right—

Kelly: I know.

Ashley: This manga, like I know definitively, that that's her future.

Kelly: But I also feel like, of course, one of my favorite moments has to be the big confession scene, but I think we'll get to that.

Ashley: Where Mao's step-mom told her all the things to do in a romantic date. I think she was like, "Do one of these things." And then Mao's like, "Let's do all of them."

Kelly: Let's do all of them.

Ashley: Right now.

Kelly: Ice skating, and Ferris wheel, and restaurant, and all the things—

Ashley: And lights. Christmas lights, we got it, checklist.

Kelly: Yeah, it's like, check, check, check. Okay, are we dating now?

Ashley: Did we date? We dated.

Kelly: Mao, you're super bad at dating. You're not good.

Ashley: You're not. You don't have to rush through it, Mao. I know you've got a lot of pent up feelings, but ...

Kelly: I know, we'll get there.

Ashley: We'll get there.

Kelly: But, yeah, so let's rewind to the end of volume seven, and talk about Daiki.

Ashley: Yeah, let's always talk about Daiki. I mean, that's how this whole podcast should be. But yes, so the beginning to volumes eight and nine are pretty Daiki-focused, 'cause he's doing a lot. He's like, "All right, I'mma tell Mao how I feel," but he's also trying to help Chi with Oda, and like—

Kelly: I know. I love Daiki as this matchmaker who's making all these little chances for Chi-chan. I'm like, "Why are you so nice? You don't have to do this."

Ashley: 'Cause he's the best boy! Darn it.

Kelly: It's 'cause he sympathizes with Chi-chan 'cause he's like, "Her love is doomed, and my love is doomed," but then it turns out her love is not doomed at all.

Ashley: And he's like, "Huh. Does that mean my love's not doomed?" No, it was still doomed. It was doomed—

Kelly: Still super doomed.

Ashley: I just love ... yeah, Daiki's really good at making little ... I think there's a point at the very end where, I guess, for the aborted discussion with Hiro and Mao in which Mao leaves a note on Hiro's face in the end, Daiki had set up that moment for them. He was like—

Kelly: Yeah.

Ashley: He was like, "Mao accidentally came home or whatever, so then I had her walk the dog, and told her to chill here as long as she wants," but he knew that Hiro would come for once, 'cause Hiro's overworked and dying.

Kelly: I know. Poor Hiro.

Ashley: He's very much a Japanese salary man. He needs a break. But then Hiro goes to the restaurant instead, 'cause they're like, "We're having a work celebration at Daiki's—"

Kelly: I know.

Ashley: "Place of work." And Daiki's like, "No! Why are you so dumb, Hiro?" He's like, "Why do you destroy all my simple kindnesses? Why do you do this?" So Daiki has to be like, "Uh, no. I asked your sparkly boss man over here if you could leave. And he said yes, so get out. Go home."

Kelly: Oh my god, just like a quick side note about Hiro's boss, we never know anything about this man.

Ashley: He's very good looking and he sparkles. He literally sparkles.

Kelly: Yeah. He just walks into panels and sparkles at everyone, and then that's it. We know nothing about him at all.

Ashley: Yeah. And they contextually are like, "He's sparkling," it's not like a ... you know ... It's like a real life thing. He just sparkles.

Kelly: He just comes in and he sparkles and plans trips to Sendai, and then swans off. I don't know, he's such a weird, random side character.

Ashley: He's pretty weird. At first I thought he liked Sugimoto, but then as soon as he's like, "Oh, Sugimoto likes Hiro," he starts leaning into that real hard. Like, all right, I don't know.

Kelly: I know. He's like, "Let me set you guys up." I'm like, "No! Don't."

Ashley: No, don't.

Kelly: Stop.

Ashley: Stop. You don't know anything, sparkly boss man.

Kelly: But Daiki, I feel like the way that Daiki handles his crush on Mao is really interesting. 'Cause the more you get to know about Daiki, the more it is clear that he has liked Mao since they were kids and has always kind of seen her gravitate more towards Hiro for support and stuff, and him, more as a brother.

Ashley: Yeah. It's the unfortunate age difference, and the fact that Hiro is named Hiro. That's real—

Kelly: I know. Yeah, it's rough. But when he ... He decides to pursue his feelings anyway, which I guess I'm like, "Go, Daiki! You can do it!" And then Chi-chan urges him to confess, and like, is that the right move? Do you think she's right that he should confess his feelings to Mao, or should he have just left them unknown forever?

Ashley: I don't know, I think on some level it's kind of like, he has to say it and be rejected to actually move on, 'cause otherwise he's always gonna ... Unless, 'cause especially in this period where Mao and Hiro are not actually a couple, right? Like, he—

Kelly: Right.

Ashley: "These two have been torturing me this whole time." So, like—

Kelly: For decades.

Ashley: They're not actually a thing. I guess it's kind of like, if Hiro and Mao had gotten together before, like, no, he shouldn't have confessed, right? 'Cause then it's like, "Well, it's too late, bro."

Kelly: Yeah.

Ashley: They're together. But I think ... And that's like a closure of like, well, they're, you know, she has a relationship, so that's over. But in this state where it's like, well, he really just needs to move on, so, sure, confess so that she knows, because she's dense. And—

Kelly: Yeah.

Ashley: It's just like, "Is Daiki a weirdo? I don't know."

Kelly: And then he gets closure on his feelings, I guess.

Ashley: Yeah. And he's like, "We all know where we stand now, so it doesn't ... We can all move on from here."

Kelly: I know. I liked actually ... There's a moment where Chihiro is talking to Mao about ... 'cause Mao ... I think Mao's like, "Daiki confessed to me!" Oh, yeah, and Chi-chan's like, "What? I'm so surprised." And she's not surprised at all.

Ashley: Mao's like, "How long did you know?"

Kelly: Yeah, she's like, "I knew this whole time." But then Mao's like, "Have I been terrible to Daiki?" And Chihiro's like, "Yeah—"

Ashley: Yeah, you were.

Kelly: "You've been bad. You've been kind of awful." And I was like, "That's so honest and totally true." 'Cause it's like, yeah, Mao's oblivious, but yeah, she's been kind of ... She's like, going to Daiki for romantic life advice about Hiro and I'm like, "Yeah, you have been kind of terrible to him."

Ashley: Yeah. At least Chihiro is like, "I get it. You like Hiro, so it made sense. But also, you've been terrible to Daiki."

Kelly: Yeah.

Ashley: "Get it together."

Kelly: You've just been shattering his heart, day by day, without realizing it. Mao, you dummy.

Ashley: And he is such a nice boy.

Kelly: He is a nice boy! Oh, poor Daiki. Yeah, so Daiki's like Mr. Matchmaker for Chi-chan and Oda, which I think is cute, but then he also is like Sugimoto's therapist after she gets rejected.

Ashley: Oh, yeah. She just keeps coming and is drunk and is like, "Oh my god, your brother doesn't like me. What do I do?" And he's just like, "Oh my god."

Kelly: I know. Poor Daiki, he's like the president of the lonely hearts club. Chi-chan goes to him to cry when she's all sad, and Sugimoto comes to him and she's all sad, and he's like, "What about me? I'm sad."

Ashley: Yeah. "I had no one! I'm just sad."

Kelly: Yeah, Sugimoto comes and cries to him at the restaurant and he's like really honest with her. She's like, "You can't understand. You've never been rejected." And he's like, "Dude, I was rejected like yesterday."

Ashley: Yeah. He's like, "Actually I've been rejected by the girl that you are mad at, so ..."

Kelly: Yeah. Poor Daiki. And then he's still nice to her even though she's a total pain.

Ashley: I know. Well, see, with these things that he was doing for Chi and Sugimoto, I was like, "Oh, no. Is it gonna try to pair him up with on of them, like—"

Kelly: Oh, yeah, I know.

Ashley: I was simultaneously like, I want Daiki to have someone, but also like, but not them. No.

Kelly: No. I know, there's definitely a moment in this manga where I'm like, "Daiki and Chi-chan?"

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: Right? Especially 'cause Oda's kind of like ... he's going off with other girls, and Chi's just getting sad, and Daiki is totally sympathizing with her and sees all her sadness, and I'm like, "Are they ..." No, but then Oda gets it together.

Ashley: Well, 'cause it kind of helps that Oda also was like, "Wait. Are Daiki and Chi becoming a thing? I don't want that to happen—"

Kelly: Oh, I know. It was like classic jealousy—

Ashley: He's jealous.

Kelly: Spurs his feelings on ... Makes him realize that he actually likes her.

Ashley: And I'm like, "No, you brat. I hate you."

Kelly: Aw, poor Oda. I actually think that Oda and Chi-chan's confession scene is really cute, 'cause they both are crying at each other in the middle of them all.

Ashley: They're like, "We've done a bad thing, and now it's weird and awkward."

Kelly: She's like, "I'm sorry, I'm confessing." Then he's like, "It's so awkward that you're confessing to me when I've been such a jerk to you."

Ashley: Please stop.

Kelly: I was like, "Oh. You guys are pretty cute." But I feel like their relationship is kind of a fun little side relationship because they ... like everyone else in the manga has so much baggage with each other. And then there's Chi-chan and Oda who are just like, "(Singing). We're just high schoolers dating. We just like each other."

Ashley: "We just want to make out."

Kelly: Yeah. "We just want to make out. We're just gonna have a Christmas date together. Tra la la." And then everyone else is like, "Oh, but will this destroy my family?" Like, kissing my love interest—

Ashley: Yeah, will this destroy my entire world? Like, I don't know, maybe.

Kelly: Yeah, which also brings me to a question about Daiki, where after he gets rejected by Mao, he thinks kind of seriously for a little while about leaving the house.

Ashley: Yeah. I was like, "Daiki, did you really just come for Mao? I don't believe you, you tsundere boy. You played me—"

Kelly: Yeah. I was like, "No, don't. No. You can't leave." I feel like that would have been devastating, if Daiki left after he got rejected by Mao, and I was like, "No, you were supposed to be family. You can't."

Ashley: Yeah. That would have been bad. That would have made me think that he's not a good boy, but he is the best boy, so ...

Kelly: I know.

Ashley: He stayed.

Kelly: Daiki is just like a pure angel. And yeah, he stays. And, not only does he stay, he also supports them, which I'm like, "You're so selfless, Daiki." But also, I feel like part of him knew that it was doomed from the start because, like I said, he's liked her since childhood, and she's been a dum-dum about it, like since they were six.

Ashley: Well, that's why Daiki has always been a weirdo, right? That's why Mao's like, "Oh. He's always been like this. Oh my goodness." No, but I think peak Daiki is like ... I don't remember the context for why this happens, but again he tries to give Mao and Hiro a moment alone. So he comes home from work and he's like, "Oh, you guys were talking. Ha ha, it's fine, I'm gonna leave again. I'm gonna go to karaoke with my friends—"

Kelly: Oh, yeah. When he goes to fake karaoke.

Ashley: Karaoke. And then they're like, "You don't karaoke, Daiki." And he's like, "No, I totally do. I'm going now. Bye." And then Mao and Hiro play along with that for a while, they're like, "All right. Let's have our conversation." So then they talk and then they're like, "All right, let's go find Daiki now that we've worked this out, because clearly he is not at karaoke."

Kelly: And then they find him down the street at like a convenience store or something.

Ashley: Yeah, reading like comics or a magazine or something.

Kelly: And he's like, "Well, it just ended early. I totally went." And they're like, "Okay, Daiki." Yeah.

Ashley: So, the pureness of Daiki comes from him being like mildly grouchy, but everybody knows that he's really a nice boy. Everybody has a read on him. When he does something nice, they're like, "Daiki, we see you. We see what you've done."

Kelly: We see you going to fake karaoke with your fake friends.

Ashley: Yeah. Daiki, don't lie. You don't have friends that aren't Mao's friends.

Kelly: It's so true. Aw, Daiki's a good boy.

Ashley: He needs a hug.

Kelly: He ends up just being like Hiro's brother and Mao's friend, and not a romantic interest.

Ashley: That's BS.

Kelly: Sorry Daiki.

Kelly: But okay, so let's talk about the other Nakamura sibling, because Hina finally arrives in this half of the manga, and she has a big role to play. So she's like, in the first seven volumes, Hina is an unseen, but looming presence, right?

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: Because, like ...

Ashley: Loomy, gloomy presence somewhere—

Kelly: Yeah. Well, because Hiro really wants her to come back, and she's the one who's not really in communication with them, and is hard to read. And she's also the one that Mao most closely identifies with because Mao is taking over her space, kind of, in the house, right?

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: All the things that Mao has, she kind of has because Hina didn't come home, and then Mao can't also really imagine why Hina wouldn't want to come back and have all the things that Mao wants, so she's kind of this big, what's Hina gonna do? And then we finally see Hina ... well, we see her for the first time at the fireworks festival. But then, Hiro sees her on his trip to Sendai. They spend so much time in Sendai.

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: In this manga, I'm like, "Taamo, are you a Date Masamune fan?"

Ashley: I think so. I think that's what we've learned.

Kelly: But, so, Hiro goes to her, and then we finally see her in her home environment with her foster family who's also a member of their extended family. But Hina's relationship with her foster family seems totally different than Daiki's relationship with his foster family.

Ashley: Yeah, Hina seems to be like, "Oh, they're nice enough, but what if they die? So I never get close to them," or something.

Kelly: Yeah.

Ashley: All right. Dark, Hina.

Kelly: And then also she has her cousin, right? Who's around the same age as her, and it doesn't seem like they super get along?

Ashley: Yeah, they seem ... the cousin's all cheery and like a typical high school girl, and Hina's like ... Hina apparently makes weird puns and is gloomy.

Kelly: Yeah, Hina's gloomy and closed off, and her cousin is kind of like, "Uh, she's taking up space in my house."

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: "Using all my stuff."

Ashley: "I try to be nice to her and she doesn't respond. I don't understand."

Kelly: Yeah, and the aunt and uncle that she stays with seem to also feel like Hina is kind of withdrawn ... it's totally different Daiki's aunt, right? Who's knitting him sweaters.

Ashley: Yes. With his name on it that he will wear.

Kelly: Yeah. So it seems like she's not happy there? Unlike Daiki, 'cause Daiki leaves a happy home to come back to Hiro. And Hina seems to not be in a super good place, where she is now, while also not want to leave.

Ashley: Yeah, 'cause she has dark moments where she's like, "I just can't ... If all three of us get together again, somebody's gonna die." And I'm like, "Oh—"

Kelly: I know.

Ashley: Jesus. Hina.

Kelly: Hina, chill. Calm down. But then, that trip is also when Hiro kind of, he realizes what we talked about before, which is kind of how he has been conflating Mao and Hina in his mind. Where he wanted his sister to come back, Mao came to live with him instead. And he's just been like, "(Singing), now I'm like a family." And kind of seeing them as substitutes for one another when they're really not. And he kind of has this meta moment of realization where he's like, "Oh my god, I'm totally subbing Mao in for my little sister."

Ashley: Yeah, and I think it depresses him because he's like, "Oh, I lost track of the goal. I haven't been pushing hard enough to get Hina, and clearly I see that she's not happy here, but what do I do about it" sort of deal. Aw, poor Hiro.

Kelly: I know. Well, I also feel like that's kind of a turning point for his feelings for Mao, 'cause I feel like Hiro's feelings for Mao were in Mao's head for a lot of the manga, and we don't really know at what point Hiro kind of realizes that his feelings for Mao are more than family.

Ashley: Yeah. At what point he wants to kiss her.

Kelly: Right. I feel like that is one of the turning points, is when he realizes Hina is Hina, and Mao is Mao, and I can't keep treating Mao like she's my little sister because my little sister won't come home.

Ashley: Yeah, and he's like, "Okay. Well, I guess I can just kiss her now. It's all good—"

Kelly: Yeah. He's like, "This really clarifies things for me. It's not really like kissing my little sister, it turns out."

Ashley: Yeah, good.

Kelly: "But she's her own person, also, several years older."

Ashley: Yeah, "Than my little sister," so that's great. Like, "This is working out for me." He's like, "Also, I've made a step," you know, because I feel like Hina before wasn't really talking to him. Definitely wouldn't see him. And he's like, "Oh. Now I've seen her face to face. Baby steps." You know?

Kelly: Yeah. Well then it's also after he has kind of that moment of realization, that he flat out rejects Sugimoto, right? So Sugimoto confesses her feelings, finally, after so much hemming and hawing, and she doesn't under an umbrella in the rain, while they're sharing an umbrella, which I was like, "Damn, Taamo, you know how to set a mood."

Ashley: You know what's up.

Kelly: Yeah, so they're sharing an umbrella and it's raining, and she's like, "I like you," and she runs away in the rain. And he thinks about it for second and then rejects her pretty firmly. Like not unkindly, but—

Ashley: Yeah, because he's Hiro, and he's a nice boy, too.

Kelly: Yeah, he's a nice boy. But pretty firmly, he's like, "Yeah, so that's not gonna happen." And Sugimoto's like, "Is it because of Kukai?" And yes.

Ashley: Yes.

Kelly: Yes, it is

Kelly: I kind of like how Taamo draws like, Mao, when Hiro and Sugimoto are in Sendai together, like Mao's imaginings of them are like, oh, they're running around with sparkles and bubbles, and she's like, "I bet they're together right now." And then Sugimoto's imagining of Mao and Hiro are the same. With like, "They're probably having such a good time." They're being all snugly in her imagination, and in real life, they're totally not like that.

Ashley: That's how we should all remember that this is how it all goes in her minds, we all think it's better for the other person, and it's just not. It's just not happening.

Kelly: No, it's like, "They're probably snuggling together on Christmas," and really, they're like ... Mao's not even there.

Ashley: Mao drew on his forehead and then left.

Kelly: Aw. But then Hina has a second big moment when they go on the big family trip, which is the big turning point, really, of the manga, is like the double family date.

Ashley: Double family date.

Kelly: To Sendai. So Hiro and Daiki and Mao, and then Mao's dad, who I realize never has a name, he's just like—

Ashley: He's just Mr. ... whatever her last name—

Kelly: He's just Mr. Motomiya, yeah.

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: He's just like, Motomiya-san. We never know if he has another name.

Ashley: He doesn't.

Kelly: And then, the step-mom, who grew on me in this half, 'cause before I was like, "Uh, she still kind of sucks."

Ashley: This time she's a little more forceful with everybody.

Kelly: Yeah, she starts to actually step up—

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: Which I appreciated. And then the little sister, Yui, right? Is her name.

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: So they go all on this trip together to Sendai, again.

Ashley: "I gotta go get Hina!"

Kelly: I kind of love how awkward it is. How Hiro and Daiki and Mao are all together, and then the Motomiyas are all together, and they're just like, "What do we do?"

Ashley: Well, there's that scene where they're eating lunch or something, and Hina sits with the Motomiyas, and I'm like—

Kelly: Yeah.

Ashley: What is happening?

Kelly: Yeah, Hina goes and sits with them, and I was like, "Hina, why you so bad?" But then, Hina has that weird moment with Mao's dad, where they totally like ... how do they relate to each other? What is the connection between them?

Ashley: I was very confused. I was like, "Why has this resonated with Hina?" Like I get from Mao's dad's perspective, he looks at Hina and sees that she's sad over her parents, and I guess he was friends with her parents, so he's like, "You are looking at this very wrong, child. Let me tell you—"

Kelly: Yeah.

Ashley: "That your parents don't want you to be thinking of these things, because you were like four when they died, and I was older than that and had discussion with them as adults, so like, don't be like this."

Kelly: Yeah, that conversation is really tough, because Mao's dad is like ... it's really one of the first times he talks about the Nakamura parents. And you realize, like, yeah, of course they must've known each other pretty well, because their daughter basically lived at the Nakamura house. They were neighbors.

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: But, that's the first time you really hear him talk about them, and he's like, "Oh, yeah, I knew them," and then he's like, "And I was always so jealous of your family."

Ashley: Yeah, he goes real hard. He's just like, "Let me tell you all my deep feelings right here—"

Kelly: Yeah. He opens up to Hina more than to anyone else in the manga, and he's like, "I'm super jealous of your parents and their family, and Mao always wanted to be with you guys, and she never wanted to be with me."

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: And I was like, "Woo—"

Ashley: And like, "Why are you being sad? You have the best family. Go back to them."

Kelly: Yeah. And well, Hina is just, like, we find out, right, that the reason Hina doesn't want to come home is she's just consumed by this childhood guilt of thinking that she's the one who killed her parents.

Ashley: Yeah, because they went to buy her something, and then—

Kelly: Yeah, they went to buy her a toy, and then they got in a car crash, and she's like, "If I hadn't been so selfish." I mean, it's like the same ... Hiro feels the same. "If I hadn't made them move, then they wouldn't have died." But for Hina, it's like ... stops her from being happy, and I think that that is where they connect, is that both of them are actively preventing themselves from happiness.

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: Hina's enormous guilt, even though it is unfounded, about her parents, and she's like, "I can't go back to the house. I have a doom cloud. I'll bring disaster to them." And just making herself miserable. And Mao's dad, being like ...

Ashley: He's like, "I know something about being a doom cloud, let me tell you—"

Kelly: Yeah, he's like, "This is my life. I just walk around making people miserable." But him just also just getting in the way of his happiness, life refusing to meet his daughter halfway, and refusing to be with his family in a way that's open, and I feel like that is where they connect in a super strange way.

Ashley: Yeah. It was just really weird for that to be like, this is the climax of where Hina decides to come home. I'm like, "Oh, Mao's dad did something good?"

Kelly: I know, what? How could this be? But I feel like Mao's dad is the only ... Like everyone else has been approaching Hina with like ... Like they genuinely want her to be with them, right? So Hiro is like, "Please come back. We love you." And Hina can't respond to that because she feels so weird and guilty.

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: About being happy. So I feel like Mao's dad being the most miserable one, is like the only one who can relate to her on a level that she actually can accept.

Ashley: That's true, I'm very much a ... There are definitely times where I say something negative to my friends or whatever, and what I'm looking for is them to be like, "Yeah, you're right. That is awful," but they're just like—

Kelly: Right?

Ashley: "No, it's fine." Blah blah blah. I'm like, "No. I want you to acknowledge my reality in a way that speaks to me, but then also, you can spin it into a positive thing," and that's what Mao's dad did. So I was like, "All right—"

Kelly: Yeah.

Ashley: "Good for you."

Kelly: He's kind of like ... Hiro and Daiki are like, "We erase any badness you feel. Like we don't even get it." And Mao's dad is like, "I get you."

Ashley: Yeah, he's like, "I am a terrible person. I probably can't even say this because I'm just bad. Like, I'm still actively being bad, so, like, sorry. But, like—"

Kelly: Yeah, he's like, "I see your misery and your guilt, and I relate to you, and I acknowledge it," and I think that's the turning point for Hina. Someone actually being like, "I am miserable, too, and I see you."

Ashley: He's like, "Do you want to be like me? I'm old and miserable."

Kelly: Basically. He's like, "I am repressed and sad. I can't tell anyone my feelings. You wanna be like me? Do you wanna close yourself off from every relationship? I dare you."

Ashley: I dare you. And she's like, "Nah, I'm good." I'm like—

Kelly: She's like, "Yeah, no, you are really sad. I don't want to be like that." But then, it's a turning point for Mao's dad, too, because that is also ... Not the conversation with Hina, I don't think, but the trip as a whole is kind of where he, I don't know, decides to stop being such a jerk?

Ashley: He connects with Mao. Yeah, he has some moments with Mao. He's still a jerk in those moments for the most part, like, I guess for the one breaking point, the first breaking point that's really prominent, is they go to play an arcade game or whatever.

Kelly: Yeah.

Ashley: And it's some shooting game, and Mao's like, "Yeah, I can do it." And then she totally misses, and her dad's like, "You suck."

Kelly: I know—

Ashley: Make sure you have a son.

Kelly: And then he does it for her, like he gets her the prize, which is totally like a first date move. I was like, "Why is Mao's dad such a tsundere?" He's like, "Let me get that for you."

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: And she's like, "Okay." Yeah, it was terrible. Why is he like that? There's also this moment earlier than that where Hina is kind of giving Hiro the cold shoulder, like he's trying, he's like, "Hina, come with us. Come walk with us." And Hina's just being standoffish. And Mao's dad turns around to Hiro and he's like, "I guess someone hates you, too." And I was like, "What is wrong with you? Like, okay, buddy. Ooh. Wow." And maybe that's also why he feels like he can talk to Hina, 'cause he feels like Hina hates Hiro, and Mao hates him.

Ashley: Oh, that's good. I like it.

Kelly: But yeah, he's like, "Looks like your sister hates you just like my kid hates me," and I was like, "Dude, why you gotta be like this?"

Ashley: He's also like, "I hate Hiro, too, Hina. Let's talk about it."

Kelly: Yeah. "Hiro's terrible. Oh god, he just wants everyone to be happy together."

Ashley: Ugh, he just can't get on his level.

Kelly: What a douche. Yeah, so, Mao and her dad have that weird date-y, like daddy-daughter date, where they do things together.

Ashley: Well, his little sister also is like, "You guys are like boyfriend and girlfriend, and you should, like, get together soon," or something like—

Kelly: I know, she's like, "I hope you can be together soon," and I was like, "Aw, precious child."

Ashley: I was like, "Uh..."

Kelly: I know. But, yeah, and he finally starts to like ... I don't know ... he finally starts to open up to Mao a little bit, but his version of opening up is just not being a total dick.

Ashley: Yeah. Not ignoring her, just actually acknowledging her presence, and sometimes doing a thing with her, and it's like, "Oh. Nice."

Kelly: Yeah. Ooh. You have a made a step a forward. I guess, like, seeing Hina being able to like ... that she actually doesn't hate Hiro ... Actually, I think Hiro says something to him, too, doesn't he? 'Cause he's like, "Oh, you're hated by Hina," and Hiro's like, "Mao doesn't hate you."

Ashley: Oh, yeah.

Kelly: Yeah. He's like, "Mao values her family. She does not hate you."

Ashley: He's like, "You have a ridiculous perspective on this."

Kelly: Yeah—

Ashley: And he does.

Kelly: Well, he says that to Mao, too, he's like, "You ran away from our house," like when they ...

Ashley: Yeah, when they start getting real with goldfish. Yeah.

Kelly: Yeah. When they start finally talking to each other, he's like, "You left me, just like your mother did." And I was like, "Whoa. Dude."

Ashley: But then he was like ... He did be like, "But I forced you to leave." And I was like, "Oh. Well, at least you acknowledge that part." Like ...

Kelly: Yeah—

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: He gets there. Which I think is the key thing, because he's like, "You ran away from me." And then he's like, "Oh, but I guess I pushed you away."

Ashley: Yeah, he's like, "Ah. I guess I kind of really pushed you towards that decision. Hey." He's just like ... I don't know ... Part of me is like, all right, I get you, but also his reasoning is so ridiculous ... like why he's currently afraid is so ridiculous to me, he's like, "Oh, no. Mao's getting close to Yui and step-mom. Then they're all gonna run away from me."

Kelly: Yeah—

Ashley: I'm like, "What?"

Kelly: "They're all gonna leave," and I'm like, "Yeah, 'cause you're a miserable jerk, like—"

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: "Who would wanna stay with you?" But, I mean, he's making strides. So I don't know if Mao's dad is redeemed.

Ashley: Yeah, I still don't know that he quite reached that level of anything.

Kelly: He's definitely better, like at least he stops being a total dick, and talks to his daughter. And actually makes an effort to be a family with her.

Ashley: He definitely ... you know, they eat dinner. He's not a total curmudgeon.

Kelly: Right, at great urging from her step-mom, who, yeah, does really step up to the plate in these volumes, and start to be more of a mom.

Ashley: She's all like, "Mao, I'm not gonna accept that you don't wanna eat dinner right now anymore, and you, dad, stop being a curmudgeon, we're going on a trip. Be happy."

Kelly: Yeah. I know, she's like, "You will get your butt down to the table and you will sit and eat dinner with this family." And I was like, "Oh yeah, okay." She has Mao quit her job, which at first I was like, "Oh, she's so controlling." But then I was like, but this is kind of what Mao wants, right? She was so happy to have a curfew, and she's like these people putting limits on her as like caring about her.

Ashley: I know, right? So beautiful.

Kelly: 'Cause I guess her parents were just like, "Run wild, like a little urchin. We're not home. Do whatever you want." And so, when someone actually is like, "You need to be home to eat as a family, she's like, 'Oh my god. They care. They want me.'"

Ashley: Well, yeah, Mao has a line that she says to Hiro, where she's like, "You know, if you didn't take me in, I probably would've been a hoodlum," or something.

Kelly: I know. She's like, "I would've been a hoodlum," and he's like, "What are you talking about?"

Ashley: He's like, "I don't know about that, but okay. Sure, that's a possible scenario that could've happened."

Kelly: Yeah, it's like, "I would've been like ... joined a street bike gang."

Ashley: I honestly feel like if she was gonna be a hoodlum, like she already would've become the hoodlum by that age, but ...

Kelly: It's true, yeah, if Mao was gonna be a delinquent with an unhappy home life, I feel like we would've reached that by 17, but—

Ashley: Yeah, I was like, exactly.

Kelly: I don't know—

Ashley: Did you read FRUITS BASKET? Like, they were hoodlums by the time they were like 13, let's be ... Right?

Kelly: That's when the true hoodlums are made.

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: Not at 17.

Ashley: Yeah, Mao, you've suffered the hard part, you're fine.

Kelly: But, yeah, so Mao finally finds a place in her family again, which is definitely a work in progress.

Ashley: Oh, but then somebody comes and tries to throw a wrench in it.

Kelly: Yes, and then Mao's mom shows up, out of the blue.

Ashley: Biological mom's like, "Hey. What's up? I'm here, too." And I'm like, "No!"

Kelly: Yeah, okay, 'cause I'm like, Mao's dad sucks, but is Mao's mom the real scumbag? Who is this woman who comes in and is like, "So I've been out of your life for like 10 years. You wanna come and just abandon everything and live with me? I'm ready to be here for you now."

Ashley: Yeah, like, "I've become a successful career woman. I have no menfolk, so let's go. I had no other children. I'm ready for you. I can give you ... you can go to a more luxurious school than this one that you're currently going to," and all these things—

Kelly: Yeah. Her mom totally tries to buy her love. She's like, "I can send you to a better school with a cuter uniform." And then she's like, "And I'll pay for your college, and you won't want for anything, and we'll go shopping together." I was like, "Well, you are worse."

Ashley: You are worse.

Kelly: You are even worse than Mao's dad. 'Cause Mao's dad is terrible, but you were just gone. You just left.

Ashley: Yeah, at least Mao's dad was like, "You know, I have a responsibility to this child." And even when she went to live with Hiro, he was like, "Well, I'm not gonna let her be a freeloader. I'll give him money," and like—

Kelly: Yeah, and Mao's mom is just like—

Ashley: You know, there was some acknowledgment.

Kelly: "Bye, I'm leaving. I'll be ..." and then, also she tries to come in the house, and Mao's like, "No. Dad got remarried." And I actually, I didn't realize that he'd only been remarried for like, a little over a year. But, she's like, "No. Dad got remarried. And I have a new mom now. And you can't just come in." You can't just come in to your ex-husband's house and just like, hangout, like you still live there.

Ashley: It's like, it's a little much. Maybe you should calm down ...

Kelly: And she's like, "Oh. He remarried?" And I was like, "They really are totally out of touch. She just totally left."

Ashley: Yeah. She's checked out, man. I also, if I were her, I'd be like, "Who would marry this curmudgeon? Oh, I guess I made him a curmudgeon though."

Kelly: I know, "I guess I'm the one who ruined him."

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: Yeah. I was like, "You are so ..." This woman is so selfish. She just comes in and tells Mao, like, drop her whole life so that she can live with her. And I'm like, "You are the worst parent, out of all the parents." And I feel like all of the ... not all, but there was a trend in this manga of really scummy adults.

Ashley: Adults are bad.

Kelly: Right? It's like all the like ... Like, the Nakamura parents are dead, and then Mao's dad sucks, and then the step-mom, she gets better and better, but at first she's kind of, meh. And then Mao's mom, and I'm like, "Why do all the adults suck?"

Ashley: And then people at work for Hiro seem mildly not great.

Kelly: Yeah, and so I was just like, "You are just all terrible." And your children are all having to sort themselves out because of your bad parenting.

Ashley: Right? It's not ... yeah. Oh, man. I don't know. Mao's mom ... I do like the way ... Mao was so mature in this situation. She was like, "My luxury is that I have family that loves me, so bye."

Kelly: Yeah. So the way that Mao deals with it I think is pretty interesting, 'cause her mom is so selfish, and also kind of immature, right? She's just like, "I'm just gonna have my daughter come back and live with me. This is all gonna be great." And doesn't ask Mao anything about her life.

Ashley: Yeah, well, 'cause the mom seemingly has built up this whole thing over years ... Like, she's been imagining it, but not talked to the person who it concerns.

Kelly: Right, which is kind of like Hiro, but ...

Ashley: Right? Well, I'm like, you know, I see this in real life, more like at my job, sort of, like there's all these massive miscommunication issues between teams and stuff, and I'm like, why is it so hard for humans to just be like, "Hey. I'm doing a thing that concerns you directly. Maybe I should just talk to you directly," like it's a fascinating concept—

Kelly: Right? Maybe I should open my mouth and speak words.

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: Well, 'cause like, when Mao comes into Hiro's life and he's like, been dreaming of refilling the house with his siblings and Mao's like, "Did you tell them that?"

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: And he's like, "Oh. I should tell them." You know—

Ashley: He's like, "I think I already told them a while ago."

Kelly: Yeah, he's like, "I guess I haven't really told them flat out that I really, really want them to come and it means a lot to me." And I think that that's the piece that Mao's mom is missing, that she never called her daughter and was like, "Hey, it would mean a lot if we could spend more time together." But, Mao's reaction to it I think is interesting, because she's ... I think she recognizes that her mom's request is selfish, and her response, is not like, anger at her mom for leaving her, or like, "Oh, I'm excited because I want to be with my mom, 'cause my dad sucks." It's like sympathy. She feels sorry for her.

Ashley: Yeah. 'Cause she keeps being like, "I actually really relate to my mom, 'cause my mom has nobody. And for a while, I had nobody, too."

Kelly: Yeah.

Ashley: "I will take this proposition seriously." Like, she thinks about it.

Kelly: She really does, yeah, 'cause she's like, "Well, I spent all this time building up people that I can be with, and I know it's really hard to be alone, so maybe this is my time that I need to be there for my mom." And I'm like, "No."

Ashley: No.

Kelly: No. Your mom is a grown-ass woman.

Ashley: She made her bed, now she has to lie in it.

Kelly: Yeah, basically, well, 'cause yeah, she's like, "Well, my mom has no one, and she's all alone, and maybe I need to go be with her, because I know how hard it is to be alone." So it's kind of this weird, like, she's parenting her mom.

Ashley: Oh, yeah, no, it's a total reversal. Like Mao is suddenly the parent here, and I'm like, all right. Cool. I also do like when Mao, in realizing her blessing, she's like, "I am so blessed. I have a dad, and a little sister, and I got two moms, like, oh, what's up y'all—"

Kelly: Yeah.

Ashley: "Y'all think that's a detriment, but I think it's great."

Kelly: Yeah, she's like, "I'm flushed with moms. I got them coming out of the woodwork."

Ashley: "Hiro was also my mom for a hot second—"

Kelly: Hiro was a mom. Hiro was a mom for a hot second. But, then her decision and the way that she tells her mom, it's not like, "Mom, I can't go with you because you abandoned me for 10 years." It's, "Mom, I can't go with you because I have so many emotional debts to repay here."

Ashley: Oh, yeah. She's like, "I have to give back. I have taken so much from everybody, and so I have to start giving back to all of them." And I'm like, "Wow. Wish I was that mature at 17."

Kelly: I know, right? She's like 17 and she's like, "All these people have given me a lot, and poured their feelings and hopes into me, and I need to return those feelings. I can't just leave." And I'm like, "Oh."

Ashley: I don't think even most adults understand that.

Kelly: Yeah. I was like, "Ooh."

Ashley: I'm not sure I could put that into practice that well.

Kelly: Yeah, I'm not sure that I could articulate that to someone. Like, oh, I need to give back to the people who have been there for me, and I need to be there for them now. But the thing that I sort of have mixed feelings about is that she doesn't talk to Hiro about it at all.

Ashley: Oh, yeah. Hiro's just like, "Something's going on with Mao, and Mao does not tell me nothing."

Kelly: Yeah, which, I'm like, on one hand, when she deals with the situation, and then she calls Hiro and tells him everything and is like, "Look, I did it. I dealt with this all on my own. I'm a mature human. And I can make decisions. Look at me. I'm a strong enough person to make these decisions alone." But also, I'm like, "But ..."

Ashley: Well, that's ... yeah, that's a bit hypocritical, because that's basically what her mom had just done, was like, she was making all these plans and decisions, trying to prove that she could do it on her own, right? She was like, "Oh, I've started my own business. It became successful. Now I actually have enough money, so I'm unashamed to go talk to you now."

Kelly: Yeah.

Ashley: And those sorts of things. And it's just like, Mao, you just were mad that your mom did that sort of thing to you, and now you're like, "Look Hiro, I did it."

Kelly: Yeah, it's like, she needed that moment so that she could feel like she could handle all of her stuff in her family and her emotional burden without relying on Hiro, I guess. I guess she feels like she's been leaning on him, but I'm like, but that's kind of like what good friends and boyfriends are for, right? It's like, emotional support. So for me, I had mixed feelings about her not telling Hiro about it, 'cause I was like, "I feel like you should just talk to him about it, and let him support you."

Ashley: No, not telling Hiro was not a smart move. I can agree. I get the emotional pay off of it, but I'm just like, "Mao, this whole manga has been about you realizing that people want to worry over you—"

Kelly: Right?

Ashley: "Like, you should let people worry."

Kelly: It's so true, and also like, earlier, when she goes back and starts staying with her family for the first time, everyone is kind of ... Like, she lies to everyone about it, and Daiki's like, "How's it going?" And she's like, "It's going great." And Chi-chan is like, "How's it going?" And she's like, "You know, real good." And Hiro calls her and is like, "How's it going?" And she's like, "Actually, not so hot." And so he's the only one that she is really honest with, and so I just thought it was weird how she would be like, "No. This is the moment that I need to fight solo."

Ashley: It needed the dramatic manga climax.

Kelly: Yeah, it needed that little ... They have to separate for a little while so that they can come back together. In this case they separated for like, a week, like, emotionally. [inaudible 00:51:18] communication. At least no one was like, "And I'm moving out of the country."

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: I hate that plot point.

Ashley: No, Hiro was just busy working—

Kelly: Yeah.

Ashley: His slave job.

Kelly: I know. He was just busy being a corporate slave.

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: He's fine.

Ashley: He'll be fine. He's only 24, just waiting until he's 40, then he won't be so fine.

Kelly: I know. Aw. He's like, "My back. From sitting here. And my eyes. They're so strained from looking at computer screens full of data." But yeah, so Mao finally goes, and she's like, "This all happened. This is the decision I made. I did it on my own. Look at me, I'm a strong independent person."

Ashley: Good for you, Mao, I guess.

Kelly: Yeah, and I guess that's fine. And so then that kind of resolves Mao's family situation, because she goes back to her family, and Hina finally agrees to come home, and then Hiro is finally allowed to mack on Mao, which I believe were the rules set out.

Ashley: Mack on Mao, hashtag.

Kelly: He's like, "Mao, you don't live under my roof, so I guess we can like, kiss and stuff."

Ashley: Okay, sure. I guess we should talk about everybody's confession scenes and ship them all now.

Kelly: So many confession scenes. Well, actually, yeah. First confession scene I want to talk about is actually Sugimoto's confession that she is not Kuukai.

Ashley: Okay.

Kelly: Which I know was not what you were angling towards, but I feel like that sorts out a bunch of stuff. It takes her so long to work herself up ... It takes her longer to work up to confess that she's not Kuukai than to actually confess her feelings the first time.

Ashley: That's true. 'Cause she was still holding out hope that like ... that would still bring them enough connection in the end, I guess.

Kelly: Yeah, she was like, "I still have this. He's still a fan of not me."

Ashley: Not me, of Mao.

Kelly: And then she finally is like, "I have to tell you. It's not me." I was like, "Oh my god. Finally. Jesus Christ. It took you so long."

Ashley: It takes her longer to say she is not a person than for Mao to be like, "I have solved all my family problems that have built up for 17 years." Isn't that—

Kelly: Yes. It takes her so long. And I think we were really hard on Sugimoto last time, because I was really mad at her for her bad behavior—

Ashley: I mean, I don't feel like she got much better in this.

Kelly: I know, I just feel like, well, we were just talking about how Mao is like ... what a mature way she articulates to her mom how she needs to give back to the people who've supported her. And Sugimoto, I feel like, feels like a really immature character a lot of times, because she's just like ... doesn't step up to dealing with the hard stuff. Like, just telling Hiro that she's not the one that wrote the stupid cell phone novel.

Ashley: Yeah, I mean, she literally had to give back in the situation, but like, literally something that she stole, basically. You know—

Kelly: Yeah.

Ashley: It's like, ooh. You did not move beyond that level of giving back.

Kelly: No, until she finally is like, "Oh. This is actually a novel about her entire life and identity, so I guess I should admit that it wasn't me." And like, yeah, I guess you should.

Ashley: At least, the one thing that she gives is being like, "All right, Hiro. I'm gonna need you to read this novel again."

Kelly: Yeah. Read it again—

Ashley: With this specific—

Kelly: From the beginning.

Ashley: You know, mode in mind. Like, think about these things in particular. Pay attention to them. Read it again. Let's see what happens.

Kelly: Yeah. I did like Hiro's realization, when he's looking at it, and then he realizes that all the names are from that historical drama that Mao's obsessed with, and he's like, "Oh my god."

Ashley: Yeah, he's like, "Wait. Kuukai is just another name for Mao. Oh. Okay."

Kelly: I know, he's like, "Oh my god. What?" And I'm like, "Yeah. You are oblivious." Although, I can't say that I would put two and two together if I was reading an online blog.

Ashley: Right.

Kelly: So I was like, "Ugh. Sugimoto, finally. Finally you have divulged your last burden to the plot. Now you can move on with your life."

Ashley: Okay, no, she got better than she deserves though. I'm still gonna be ... I'm mad.

Kelly: Okay, yeah, that's true. Although, I did find her ending very amusing.

Ashley: Well, 'cause it's just so, you know, like, who is this ... This boy is not real.

Kelly: Yeah, so, because at the end, she's like, "I guess I'll just die alone, since I'll never be with Nakamura." And then she finally meets up with her online friend, Ruirui, and it turns out that he's a super hot dude.

Ashley: 'Cause he's a model.

Kelly: Who's like obsessed with Date Masamune—

Ashley: He just likes BL—

Kelly: And BL.

Ashley: But he's not gay. I'm like, all right.

Kelly: He's like, "I just love BL so much." And I was like, how did you ... like this magical model, fudanshi unicorn—

Ashley: Yeah, no, exactly—

Kelly: Who's like, in love with you—

Ashley: I'm like, this is BS. I don't buy this at all.

Kelly: He's like, "I just fell in love with you over ..."

Ashley: "Over these four years as we chatted online—"

Kelly: "On"

Ashley: Right?

Kelly: "I fell in love with you." I was like, this is a highly hilarious conclusion for her, but also, like ...

Ashley: No, it's infuriating. I'm mad.

Kelly: Very ridiculous.

Ashley: She doesn't deserve this. She needs to learn hard lessons that she's not learning from this.

Kelly: So true, yeah, I'm like, "Don't steal other people's identities to make the boy you like, like you. Don't be sneaky and try to go out with the boy you like where the other girl can see you, 'cause that's spiteful and mean." So, yeah, she still has growing up to do.

Ashley: Yeah. The things that she did that were bad all involved online things, and now she's being rewarded for not completely confirming the identity of somebody that she talked to online, I'm like, "No."

Kelly: You don't get happiness, Sugimoto.

Ashley: You don't get happiness, Sugimoto. Daiki didn't get happiness, so you don't get it either.

Kelly: Ooh, I feel like that's where the real bitterness is coming from, is that like, Sugimoto gets happy ending, but Daiki is still alone at the end.

Ashley: Daiki's just moderately happy having a family again at the end, yeah, exactly.

Kelly: Okay, he's not moderately happy. He's very happy. He lives with his family again.

Ashley: Listen, I have mixed feelings about the ending of it just being like, oh, Hiro being like, "And now Mao and I are engaged, deal with it Hina and Daiki. Bye."

Kelly: Yeah, okay, wait. Let's get to that. We're getting ahead of ourselves because we were going to talk about the confession scene after I dumped more on Sugimoto. So, finally Hiro and Mao get to be together, and they go on their date that Mao is like, "What is date? How do I date?"

Ashley: "What is date? How date?"

Kelly: "How do I skate? I can't ... What is restaurant?" And then they have their big confession, which always, of course, it's a shojo manga, it's like full page spread of him confessing his feelings around the Ferris wheel—

Ashley: Of just like the words, I love you, in a word bubble—

Kelly: I know, I was like, "Aw."

Ashley: On a Ferris wheel.

Kelly: Doki, doki, doki. Yeah, on a Ferris wheel. And it's like, obviously we know that they're gonna end up together by this point. But it's still nice.

Ashley: Is it? I don't know. I was still—

Kelly: You didn't like it?

Ashley: I don't know. In the end, I was like, "I am okay with you two, but I do not feel it deep in my heart."

Kelly: But you're not Daiki. Okay, here's the thing I really love about Hiro and Mao, though, is, they are cute together to me because of the way they lift each other up and support each other throughout the manga. Like, they are just so positive in each other's lives—

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: And, it just makes me so happy. And they're cute together, like, they just work very well together. Like, she is honest with Hiro, Hiro was honest with her. Like, they're generally ... aside from the whole, "I like you and I'm just kidding, I'm joking—"

Ashley: Joking.

Kelly: "Not really." Like, they're very open and honest with each other. They get each other in a way that other people don't get them. And they just make each other better people.

Ashley: I'm all about that. I'm at the same time, I'm like, Hiro is like, too good, maybe?

Kelly: Is he?

Ashley: He's pretty perfect.

Kelly: I mean, he is. Well, last time we talked about how Hiro is maybe a little selfish in the same way that Mao's mom is kind of selfish, in being like, "I have envisioned this whole life for us, and I did not consult you. But I think that you should be a part of it." And I think that a lot of the manga is Hiro kind of like, getting past that. Because that's kind of where he is, too, he's like, "I have preserved this home. And I would like you guys to come live here," and they're like, "Okay, but we have done other things since we left. And maybe that dream that you have is not what's best for us." And he does get it in the end, but, a part of it is he gets it through realizing that his family is not exactly as he imagined it would be, and that's okay.

Ashley: I just feel like he gets to have his cake and eat it, too, right? Like, he literally bought a Christmas cake and started eating it by himself, but then it all worked out for him.

Kelly: Oh. It's so true. Oh my god, that made me the saddest. When Daiki's like, "I'm working. Goodbye." And Mao's like, "I'm going to my family." And he's like, "Okay. I'm all alone on Christmas."

Ashley: I bought a cake, though!

Kelly: Just sitting at his kitchen table, eating his cake alone. I was like, "Oh my god, Hiro. You are pathetic."

Ashley: But in the end, he doesn't have to eat it alone, and that's how this whole manga has gone for him.

Kelly: That is true, yeah, Hiro, he is fairly perfect, and he does get a happy ending. Which is good for him. But I feel like he has earned it by living a generally sad and lonely life, up until now.

Ashley: By being a corporate slave.

Kelly: Well, he lived there for years, all alone, which is kind of soul crushing when you think about it.

Ashley: In his big house, all alone.

Kelly: Yeah. That's like, I think the saddest part of that Christmas scene, where he's eating the cake alone, is he's like, "This used to be normal for me."

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: He's like, "But I got used to people."

Ashley: "I wouldn't have bought such a big cake if I knew I was gonna do this again."

Kelly: Aw. Poor Hiro. But, yeah, the reason I like them as a couple is just because they are, so like, good for each other, in a way that I feel like, even though I, too, enjoy Daiki, I feel like Daiki and Mao don't have that same thing.

Ashley: No. But I still just ... I just don't feel Hiro in my heart. I am glad that they are happy, though.

Kelly: I think this manga is more of the kind where it's like, you're happy for ... like the couple makes you happy, and less like, oh my god, the boy is so hot, I want to be with him so much.

Ashley: It's Daiki.

Kelly: Except for Daiki, I'm in love. But you know how some romance manga, you're like, oh my god, he's so hot, like I can't wait to self insert as this girl who's gonna date him.

Ashley: Yeah. This manga's not that, but I really fell hard for Daiki in a way that I was like—

Kelly: Yeah.

Ashley: This is very unexpected.

Kelly: Yeah, this manga is more like ... I'm trying to think of another one. For me, it kind of reminds me of HORIMIYA, where you're like, "You two are just so cute together."

Ashley: I know.

Kelly: And you two just make each other so happy and make each other better people and it's not like I really want to date either one of you, but I love seeing you be together.

Ashley: Fine. That's fair. I can accept that.

Kelly: Yeah, Hiro is not exactly like a doki doki Hiro. He's not like, oh my god, Hiro walked in—

Ashley: What a hottie.

Kelly: Oh god, we swooned. He's like, texting Mao, he's like, "Hi. How are you?" And you're like, "Aw, he's so supportive." He's just not like, "Aw, he's so hot." But, in the end. So in the end, Hiro has to admit to his family that he's dating a high schooler.

Ashley: Yep.

Kelly: And all the aunties are like, "What? Hiro, you're dating a high schooler?" And he's like, "She's 18!"

Ashley: He's like, "Uh. Yes."

Kelly: "Yes, I am." I did think it was interesting in one of the author notes, Taamo mentions that her parents have the same age gap as Mao and Hiro.

Ashley: Oh, yeah.

Kelly: Which I was like, "Oh, that's interesting." It's like—

Ashley: And then, she asked them if they ever felt it in any way, and they were just like—

Kelly: Yeah.

Ashley: "Eh. Whatever."

Kelly: Yeah, they were like, "Not really."

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: It's fine.

Ashley: And I was like, that really informs my reading of this. You're just like, "Yeah, people shouldn't care about this, 'cause my parents are like this and they're fine."

Kelly: Yeah, they're fine. They're totally fine. But, yeah, do you think it's weird that he basically ... I mean, okay, so, it's shojo manga so it sort of has to end with at least a gesture towards a wedding.

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: Right? But, he ... it's not a wedding, it's not a real proposal. He's kind of like, "I want to spend the rest of my life with you, you dumb idiot."

Ashley: Yeah, "Vaguely in the future, we should get married."

Kelly: Yeah, and have a family. Do you think Hina and Daiki would not be okay with that?

Ashley: I think I would like, "Hiro, you don't need to ... yeah, it's too soon, Hiro. Chill out. Hina just got here. Calm down."

Kelly: Stop being so greedy.

Ashley: Stop being horny. Don't be horny.

Kelly: Now you want your siblings here. Now you want to get married. Like, how his aunts are like, "You should get married," and he's like—

Ashley: Yeah, and he's like, "I want some of my own children now." I'm like, "Calm down. Calm down, bro."

Kelly: I know, chill, Hiro. Although, I do like the moment that Mao kind of realizes ... she has this moment of realization where she's like, "Hiro is like a mom." She's like, "Hiro is like everyone's parent, but his parents are dead." And I'm like, "Yeah, Mao."

Ashley: I know, like ...

Kelly: We know.

Ashley: That's why, Mao.

Kelly: That's the whole thing.

Ashley: You did it. You solved it.

Kelly: And I kind of like how Mao ... Her thing in the end with Hiro is that she's like, "You have supported me all this time and been there for me, and now I'm gonna be there for you and support you." And I was like, "That's kind of nice." Like Mao's in a place where she feels emotionally strong enough that she's like, "Now I will be your rock!"

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: And like, "You go cry by the shrine, and I'll come find you and take you home."

Ashley: And he's like, "Okay. Let's just have children though."

Kelly: Yeah, and he's like, "Let's just date and make out on a Ferris wheel." I do find Mao, her being like, "No. Don't kiss me." And I'm like, "Shut up, Mao."

Ashley: "I'm not ready yet. I've gotta prepare myself."

Kelly: Yeah, "I need to prepare my heart." I'm like, "Shut it! It's been 13 volumes. You know you want to make out with him. Stop acting all shy and demure, we know what you're about."

Ashley: You're not pure, don't lie.

Kelly: You're friends with Chi-chan, so ...

Ashley: Listen, we all have a friend like Chi-chan, I think. This is what I've realized.

Kelly: I know. And Oda's like, "I just want to hold her hand." And Chi-chan's like, "When are we gonna bang? Do you have condoms?" Slow down. Slow down, Chi-chan.

Ashley: Do we support Oda and Chi? You did, last time.

Kelly: I do. I still do. Like I said, I feel like they're kind of the cute high school couple. They're just like, doing their thing. Why, do you not?

Ashley: I think Daiki and Chi should've gotten a chance, that's all I'm saying.

Kelly: Okay, I will say that I wouldn't have been upset if Chi ended up with Daiki.

Ashley: I think that that's the future we truly deserved.

Kelly: I think I would've been very okay with that. On the other hand, I feel like it would've been sort of weird because it would've felt like Daiki was settling for Chi-chan.

Ashley: But I feel like Oda just only likes Chi by proxy of being like, everybody's been rejected by Mao, and he's just like, "Oh. But now Daiki has a chance, and that makes me think, no."

Kelly: Yeah, I mean, he's definitely like, "I didn't really realize my feelings until another boy tried to take her." And I'm like, "Okay, Oda."

Ashley: Right, like this is the thing that bothers me somewhat about like, THE HUNGER GAMES, you know, it was like, Katniss has got Gale and Peeta vying for her, and it's kind of like, only because Peeta becomes on the scene are Katniss and Gale then like, "Oh. Well, I don't want to be forced into this thing with Peeta, so, like, I'm gonna go make out with Gale. I'll just like—"

Kelly: Okay. Well, full disclosure, I am not a Peeta supporter.

Ashley: You're not a Peeta supporter?

Kelly: No.

Ashley: Oh my—

Kelly: No. I never have been. And I think he's terrible.

Ashley: Oh my god. This is a tragic turn of events.

Kelly: This podcast is canceled.

Ashley: We're done now.

Kelly: Cut the recording. Listen. What did Peeta have to offer Katniss, okay? He threw bread at her when she was a kid—

Ashley: No.

Kelly: And then thought he was a great person for it, and then like, hid in a cave for most of the first book. What does Peeta have to offer?

Ashley: Peeta saves her before ... he gets hurt saving her. Why they have to hide in the cave, okay, first of all. Second of all, he's a very, very sweet boy who gives her the emotional support she needs that Gale doesn't because Gale sucks.

Kelly: Okay. But Gale is her childhood friend who she actually feels close with. And Peeta is someone who she just became close with due to suspension bridge syndrome, or whatever.

Ashley: No, she becomes close to Peeta because they go through a million traumatic things together—

Kelly: I know, exactly.

Ashley: And in the end they're like, broken.

Kelly: They go through traumatic things together and then they think they're in love. But her real connection was with Gale. Okay. Anyway.

Ashley: I feel like this explains so much about our personalities.

Kelly: I know, I'm like, Peeta, who cares.

Ashley: Wrong!

Kelly: He's just some guy.

Ashley: Wrong.

Kelly: They just think they're in love because they were in a life threatening situation together. They have nothing in common.

Ashley: No, they're perfect. I literally have six Hunger Games posters hung above my bed, and they're all Peeta and Katniss.

Kelly: Oh my god. Well, I also felt like the way that Gale went down in the end was kind of lame.

Ashley: Okay, sure, I can agree. We can agree here.

Kelly: They were just like ... She's like, "I can never look at you again because my sister died." And I was like, "Okay, Katniss. That's fine. Whatever. Go have babies with Peeta, if that makes you happy."

Ashley: Yeah, it does, thank you—

Kelly: And it makes her very happy. Okay. I ... speaking of The Hunger Games, like the epilogue where it's like, oh, and then we have a million babies together, like—

Ashley: They have two!

Kelly: And their life is happy. Like, I hate those kind of epilogues. I hate the epilogue in HARRY POTTER. I don't need to see Harry's sons. I'm fine. And I appreciate that Taamo doesn't do that in this manga. I think she has a note, she's like, "I was gonna show a wedding scene—"

Ashley: Oh, yeah.

Kelly: "And then I thought, it was important for everyone to just remember teenage Mao." And I was like, "Thank you! I appreciate that. I don't need a wedding scene. I don't need to see their kids. I'm happy with it ending like this."

Ashley: But wasn't there a color page that was like, this is totally a wedding.

Kelly: Yeah, there was color page with them like ... Her in a dress that was obviously a wedding dress, and him in a suit. But it was, like, an illustration. It wasn't like, and now we have a whole flash forward epilogue of their wedding, or of like, Hina playing with their baby.

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: I'm like, "This is unnecessary."

Ashley: This is unnecessary. So it didn't go there. That's true.

Kelly: I know, it didn't. I hate those flash forward chapters, where I'm like, "This is ... no. Leave the characters as I know them. They're happy right now."

Ashley: So you just epically hate MAID SAMA! I guess.

Kelly: I just like ... I always am just like, "Ugh," at the end, I'm like, "Can I just skip this part?" I'm just happy when they get together, I don't need to know that they had baby.

Ashley: Yeah. We don't need to know that they're happy forever. We just want them to be happy in this moment.

Kelly: Right, well, also it's like, shojo manga's already end with the wedding. But, for me it's like, "Oh. And now they have true happiness, because they got married and had a baby." And I'm like, "But they were ..."

Ashley: But they were happy before.

Kelly: They were happy before. This isn't the ultimate goal.

Ashley: Babies don't have to be the goal.

Kelly: Yeah.

Ashley: That's why I'm like, "Hiro, you're doing it too fast. Stop."

Kelly: Calm down, Hiro. Yeah, I felt like she kind of struck a good balance between giving the reader like ... this is forever, like, "I wanna be with you for the rest of our lives." And not being like, "And then they had eight children."

Ashley: Oh, you know they're gonna have eight children, though.

Kelly: Oh, yeah. Gotta fill up that house. Well, there's only six seats at the dining room table, so ...

Ashley: They'll just buy a bigger one—

Kelly: They're gonna need an even bigger table.

Ashley: Yeah. Hiro really was proud of buying that bigger table, so you know—

Kelly: I know.

Ashley: It will bring him immense joy.

Kelly: Honestly, maybe that's why Hiro resonates with me, because I am also the person who would get really excited about buying a giant table. I'm like, "It seats eight people! This is amazing! Now we can have everyone over." I'm like, I get this—

Ashley: "We can have everyone over. There's room for all the things in the future."

Kelly: I know, Hiro's so domestic, I'm like, I get you, Hiro. I totally feel you on this level. I also want a new table. Yeah. Oh, Hiro.

Ashley: Oh, Hiro.

Kelly: He is kind of perfect. But for me he's not perfect in like an annoying way where you're just like, "Ugh, he's just so perfect. He can't do anything wrong."

Ashley: He's not perfect in the way that Ruru ... Ruiriu ... Rui ... I can't say it right—

Kelly: Ruirui.

Ashley: I can't say his name.

Kelly: He's like, "I'm a model."

Ashley: "I'm a model, and I love everything that you love, and I'm hot." And it's like, "No! Get out."

Kelly: "And I'm hot. Let's be together."

Ashley: "And I'm in love with you. Not all these other girls that are fawning over me, but you, Sugimoto." I'm like, "No. Screw this."

Kelly: Yeah. That chapter is very, like, wish fulfillment-y, and I'm like, "This is fine." I like the part at the end where they go to the Nakamura family grave with all their family. And Mao comes with them, and she's like, praying, and talking to Hiro's parents, and like ... She's like, "I'm really gonna take care of your son. I'm so happy that I can be part of your family. Thanks for taking me in when I was a kid," and blah blah blah. And Hiro's like, "What are you doing? You're taking too long. What are you saying?"

Ashley: She's like, "I can't tell you that."

Kelly: I know, she's like, "I have a lot to report, calm down." He's like, "You're going on too long, you're boring them."

Ashley: "I know best. I'm their child. You shut up now."

Kelly: I know, it's like, ugh, you guys are cute.

Ashley: But, I don't know. Just for me, Oda was also a little too pretty-boy perfect.

Kelly: Yeah, Oda is totally ... Well, he's totally that like, prince of the school, all the girls love him. And then, he likes Chi, I guess, because ... I don't know.

Ashley: Because Chi likes him. That's all—

Kelly: Because she likes him. And she doesn't fawn all over him, I guess.

Ashley: And they were friends before, so they had a repertoire that actually made sense.

Kelly: Yeah, which I'm like, that's fine.

Ashley: No.

Kelly: That's a fine high school, normal romance.

Ashley: But, Daiki.

Kelly: But Daiki. But, okay, wouldn't it be weird, though, if Daiki ended up with Mao's friend, and it's totally like, "I couldn't be with Mao, so I settled for her best friend."

Ashley: But Oda couldn't be with Mao, either.

Kelly: But I feel like Daiki deserves better than Oda.

Ashley: Like that's—

Kelly: That's fine for Oda.

Ashley: Right. That's the fan fiction I'm gonna write. Daiki gets even better than Mao. Daiki finds like, ultimate woman.

Kelly: Well, Hina's gonna set him up with her friends.

Ashley: No!

Kelly: Hina's gonna make Daiki a Tinder profile.

Ashley: Oh my god. Yes.

Kelly: I like how—

Ashley: I would love Daiki on Tinder.

Kelly: I like how Hina ... Hina's going around taking pictures of all the girls in her grade, trying to set Daiki up with someone. I was like, "Hina, you are a good wing man. I support this."

Ashley: Hina's surprise is coming along.

Kelly: Hina's looking out for Daiki.

Ashley: Oh my god. Okay. Well.

Kelly: Don't worry. Hina will take care of Daiki. He'll find someone. I feel like that'll be better for Daiki in the end, anyway. I feel like Daiki and Mao, even though it would've made Daiki really happy, and Mao would've been happy, I feel like they don't have as strong of a future together.

Ashley: I just want Daiki to be happy.

Kelly: I know. I just ... He does. He does need to be happy. Well, he doesn't get romantic love in the end, but he gets family love.

Ashley: He does get family love, that's ...

Kelly: He gets family love, which is kind of ... I don't know. This manga is obviously like, family is important. Right? It's like a big thing in the manga, you're like, "Family." But, I also think that the way it navigates familial verses romantic love is sort of interesting—

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: Because ... Like, we were just talking about Chi and Oda, and how they're kind of just like, "We're just high school couple. We just go on dates and stuff." And everyone else has all this baggage with each other. But like, when Mao and Hiro are first living together, they're like, "Well, we're just like siblings." And then it develops into romantic love. And like, with Daiki, she's like, "I see you as a brother," and he's like, "I see you as a girlfriend." And they're like, "This does not work."

Ashley: It does not match up.

Kelly: No. But then even with like ... When we were talking about Mao and her dad, like the way that they approach each other is way more first date-y then anything she does with Daiki and Hiro.

Ashley: Right?

Kelly: Where they're like, "We should go scoop goldfish together, and then we'll bond over this, I guess."

Ashley: Yeah, except our bonds go real deep and it got dark real fast over the goldfish.

Kelly: I know. I was like, okay, this is getting really intense. But those relationships between ... Like how Mao sees different people in her life. And Hiro, too, like, he's like, "Mao is family while she lives in my home, and once she leaves, I can feel more comfortable seeing her romantically, because she's not like, my ward."

Ashley: "And then I can work to try to bring her back into this house so that we can have the sexy times."

Kelly: Yes! Well, I mean, because that's where it ultimately ends, is that like, then Mao is in the end still ... He wants her to be part of his family. So like, romantic love turns into family love again. So it's all like one big ball.

Ashley: It's all one big circle of ... It's like reduce, reuse, recycle. It's like ...

Kelly: Yeah. 'Cause he's like, "I love you, not like a sister."

Ashley: Not like a sister, no.

Kelly: "Not like a sister. But I want you to be part of my family in a different way. Not as a replacement for Hina, but, yeah, let's have like, eight children. We'll have a million dining room tables."

Ashley: Yeah. "We'll have the children's table and then like, adult table."

Kelly: Aw, yeah. So Hiro remakes his family in the end, then like Mao ... I feel like Hiro's family is set. Like they're good. Daiki's gonna go to college next year, and then Hina's there for a few more years. But then, Mao's family, I'm like, "I guess you guys are okay. I don't really know. Like, is this a happy ending for you? You seem fine."

Ashley: You seem fine! Everybody's fine.

Kelly: Well, 'cause Hiro's like, "We've all discussed our feelings and emotions, and we have all come together again, and we have the blessing of our dead parents in this home that they built us, and the support of our loved ones and family." And then Mao's like, "My dad still kind of sucks." But she does ... I think she says in the end that she's like gonna live at home while she goes to college.

Ashley: Oh, does she say that? I don't remember.

Kelly: Yeah, I think she tells Hiro, like, "Yeah, I think I'm gonna go to college somewhere close so that I can stay home." And Hiro's like, "Yeah, you know, you worked so hard to actually be able to be home."

Ashley: To just be home.

Kelly: "But it would make sense for you to stay home and get to know your new mom and sister."

Ashley: Yeah. "Before we make babies."

Kelly: "Before we have all of our babies." I know, it's like, what are the step-mom's feelings, 'cause she was also a Daiki stan, so ...

Ashley: I really am just a Daiki stan.

Kelly: Maybe you and her could commiserate.

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: She's like, "Why did she end up with Hiro? I liked that Daiki boy a lot better."

Ashley: Well, at least from her mom's perspective, it must be an age thing, too. Like, it's more age appropriate for you to be with this nice Daiki boy over here.

Kelly: Yeah, so it is.

Ashley: "But, Hiro, mom. Hiro."

Kelly: I know, except for dad the whole time has been like, "I just want Hiro to marry Mao." And I'm like, "What? Okay."

Ashley: Yeah, and his dreams will come true, see?

Kelly: I know, but then the reason that he wanted that was so that he could like offload his daughter on them for good.

Ashley: He's like, "Finally, I got rid of Mao."

Kelly: Right? Now he was like, "She should just marry into that family and then I'm done with her. She always liked them better than me."

Ashley: She's not a Motomiya anymore.

Kelly: Yeah, "She always wanted to be over there and she never wanted to be in my house, so, now, good, you did it. Now you're permanently there." Although, okay, I don't think we talked about, though, Daiki's cousin, who like—

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: His aunt really wants him to marry his cousin.

Ashley: But, I'm like, why? No. Daiki's also like, "No."

Kelly: Like, oh, yeah. Mao and Hiro have this seven year age gap, but is it better to marry your cousin?

Ashley: No!

Kelly: She's like, "I always hoped she would marry her and then just be part of our family for real." Which is a very sweet sentiment, but also, I'm like, you guys are first cousins.

Ashley: Yeah, definitely do not support.

Kelly: So, yeah, I was like, "Oh, I hope Daiki doesn't end up with her."

Ashley: And the cousins seem to be crushing on him, right? Like, she was all blush-y ... I couldn't tell if that's just how she is, though.

Kelly: No, I think she totally has a thing for him. She's the one who brings in the sweater, and she's, like, "I brought you this—"

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: "I miss you so much. Let's text."

Ashley: "Let's sext."

Kelly: She's like ... How old is she even?

Ashley: I don't know.

Kelly: I think she's like in middle school.

Ashley: Oh, no. Oh.

Kelly: And so she has a crush on her cousin, and—

Ashley: No.

Kelly: And the mom is totally into it.

Ashley: Ew.

Kelly: So she can like, fold Daiki into the family, and I'm like, "No."

Ashley: No.

Kelly: Daiki is gonna meet such a nice, smart girl in college, and they're gonna be like, lawyers together, or something.

Ashley: Okay. Good fan fiction.

Kelly: I feel like Daiki just has a really bright future.

Ashley: I agree.

Kelly: Well, he's a smartypants, and he has been crushing on this girl his whole life who he teased as a kid. And now he's finally in a place where he can move on and make a fresh start.

Ashley: And he's a hot, hot warrior.

Kelly: Yeah. He's like a hot, Sengoku General cosplayer. Oh my gosh, okay, I did love ... This whole podcast is gonna be about Daiki and his antics. When he goes to the group date with his coworker.

Ashley: Oh, yeah.

Kelly: And she's like, "Please, please, please come!" And he's feeling all sad and rejected so he's like, "Fine. I'll go." And then he hates it. And all the girls are like, "Let's exchange numbers." And he's like, "I have to leave."

Ashley: He's like, "I don't know you, though. Why would I give you my number? This makes no sense." Like it just makes no sense to Daiki.

Kelly: I know, he's just like, what do they want? And then she's like, flirting with him, and he's like, "I have to go walk my dog," and just leaves.

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: It's like, "Okay, Daiki. That's fine."

Ashley: Daiki's having a meltdown.

Kelly: I know. Daiki's too perceptive for his own good. He sees through everyone.

Ashley: I know, but I think that's how I am a bit, too. Like in situations ... like, I would totally behave in a way that's like, this societal norm just makes no sense to me. I'm just—

Kelly: I don't like ... To be honest, I would totally do a Daiki if someone forced me to go on a group date. I'd be like, "I have to go walk my cat. Goodbye." They're like, "What?" And I'm like, "Yep. It's getting really late. Have to go."

Ashley: "Gotta go now."

Kelly: That is like me 100% of the time. I'm like, "Oh. Getting very tired. Have to go. Must leave. Cannot—"

Ashley: "I will see you later, slash never."

Kelly: Yeah, see you never, let's not do this group date thing again.

Ashley: Have a nice life.

Kelly: But I feel Mao and Daiki are fun together because they do kind of just like, rib each other like siblings. But I feel like Daiki needs a girl who is gonna, like, give as good as she gets. I feel like Daiki needs to be able to like, you know, make one of his very Daiki, barbed comments to her, and she just dishes it right back at him. For like the hot second that I was like, "Oh, are Daiki and Sugimoto gonna like ... uh."

Ashley: Uh, yeah. I was like, "No."

Kelly: I was like, "Absolutely not. Definitely not." Also, they would be terrible together because Sugimoto would cry all day.

Ashley: And that would be her settling for other Nakamura brother.

Kelly: Yeah. Oh. Talking about settling, it would be like, "Yeah, I got the other Nakamura."

Ashley: Yes. Ooh.

Kelly: Ooh. No, thank you.

Ashley: No, thank you. I was like, "Manga, you better not be implying this, because I will be so mad."

Kelly: No, yeah. I like how even Daiki, who's like 17, is more mature than Sugimoto.

Ashley: Everybody's more mature than Sugimoto.

Kelly: He's like, "No, you need to get over yourself, and stop coming here, also."

Ashley: "Girl, stop getting drunk."

Kelly: Yeah, he's like, "Please, stop. Go away." And she's like, "You don't understand. I'm just so sad." Okay, Sugimoto. Calm down.

Ashley: Okay.

Kelly: You know who also didn't get to find happiness, though, is Hiro's work friend who's name I can never remember.

Ashley: Fujita, I believe?

Kelly: Yeah, he just like ... He's fine.

Ashley: Yeah, he's fine. He seems like a jovial man who ... he'll be fine someday.

Kelly: Well, also for like a hot second, Sugimoto was like, "I'm gonna let go of this love and move on to someone else—"

Ashley: Oh, yeah. And then she was too shy to go with him.

Kelly: And then she like ... Yeah, she tries to like, invite him to dinner or something. He can't go for some reason. And I'm like, "You two would be perfect together. You're both like, people I don't care about in this manga. Go on."

Ashley: Exactly. Go for it.

Kelly: Go and be together. Be happy.

Ashley: Oh, man.

Kelly: Well, I want to talk about, also, is, I think you mentioned this last time and we didn't really dig into it, but that this manga is not exactly the kind of shojo manga that does super well over here.

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: And like, I think that you are right, but like, why do you think that is true?

Ashley: I don't know. I've been really struggling with like, why quieter, more slice of life-y romances don't do as well over here. Especially going into having to do like, three episodes about KIMI NI TODOKE, where I'm like, I really just don't feel like there's a fandom for that in America, like ...

Kelly: Really? I feel like Kimi ni Todoke ... Well, maybe, more the anime has—

Ashley: Exactly.

Kelly: More of a fandom around it. I guess you're right.

Ashley: People watch the anime, but that didn't want them wanna go read ... It made me read them manga, but I don't think that that's like, the overwhelming majority of people's responses to that.

Kelly: Yeah. Well, it made me want to read the manga if only because of the second season of the Kimi ni Todoke anime is like the most frustrating. But, yeah, I feel like there is less ... I mean, so what shojo manga would you think ... like what types of shojo manga do you think do better? I feel like fantasy-based ones—

Ashley: Definitely.

Kelly: Are like, a little hotter.

Ashley: The comedic ones and fantasy ones, I think, are the ones that blow up. Comedic ones have the funnies in them, they're keeping you going, I guess, like OURAN, and Maid Sama!, and Horimiya is not a shojo manga, but it is in that vein.

Kelly: Horimiya is not a shojo manga, but it is a romance manga.

Ashley: Yeah. In that vein sort of deal. And, I don't know, fantasy ones always have, I guess, weird fashion and hotter boys ...

Kelly: Yeah. There is the fashion and the hot boys. Well, I feel like—

Ashley: See, there's no good ... Like, you know, it's just like, the backgrounds in this have to be real basic, and, I don't know, I think people are just, like, Whatever. I just read romance novels for like ... quiet romances sort of deal.

Kelly: Yeah, well I feel like, maybe, also the comedy one ... Like Ouran High School Host Club is such a good example of this where, like, people who think they don't like shojo manga or don't like romance manga will be like, "Oh, but I love Ouran High School Host Club."

Ashley: Yeah, you get the nice laughs in there. It's good.

Kelly: Right, 'cause it's so different. And I'm like, is it?

Ashley: You're like, "This is real basic 101 now."

Kelly: Is it, though? 'Cause like ... Yeah, like Ouran does some stuff that subvert some shojo tropes, but at heart it is very much a shojo manga.

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: Like, very much, like, it still all the ... you know, it still has multiple boys competing for our girl, who still goes through a lot of really common shojo tropes. Yeah, it has a good sense of humor. Like, I love Ouran, but like, it's not not a shojo manga, or like, not a romance manga in any way. So I feel like ... I don't know. I feel like manga like House of the Sun, which are more quiet, comfy romances, are totally devalued.

Ashley: They are.

Kelly: They are like ... And I feel like ... 'Cause you can't be like, "Oh, well, I just read it for the politics, or the costumes, or the jokes—"

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: 'Cause it really is, you're just reading for a sweet romance story.

Ashley: It's just so much harder to sell, like, I don't know ... Like, especially, for House of the Sun, there can be really ... lines where I'm like, that is such a deep human observation that I feel people just don't value in the same way unless it's wrapped up in some sort of paranormal thing, or something.

Kelly: Yeah, that's so true.

Ashley: Like, ERASED, like, you know, Erased has a lot of deep cutting lines about what it means to be human, but everybody's wrapped up in the mystery aspects of it, and like—

Kelly: Right.

Ashley: The people can go back in time. But when it's just like, yeah, this is just real life, people are just like, eh, this is boring.

Kelly: Yeah, I know, it's like, this is a thriller so it's deeper and more exciting, and you're like, this is just a romance about lonely people and finding family.

Ashley: And it has really cutting observations.

Kelly: Yeah. I don't know. I mean, I feel like this is also a manga that is just more understated in general. Which is something that I really like about it, but is ... It doesn't have like, the drama of something like, Erased, for example. But also something that's just like, A SILENT VOICE. Which is also like, real human problems, and not funny—

Ashley: Oh no.

Kelly: At all.

Ashley: I ugly-sobbed at A Silent Voice. Just straight ugly sobbed in my room.

Kelly: Right?

Ashley: Being like, "I'm so disturbed and distraught."

Kelly: Yeah, but it's like, very dramatic, and it has like ... It's gonna make you cry, it's so sad. And House of the Sun doesn't really have those moments, where you're like, "And then I sobbed over it." Or, "And then I can't believe she slapped her."

Ashley: Yeah, no, there's no ... yeah, it's true, there's no dramatic moments.

Kelly: No one is slapping anyone.

Ashley: The most dramatic moments are Mao draws on Hiro's face.

Kelly: Yeah, then he wakes up and he's like, "What the ... Again?"

Ashley: "Why do I keep letting this happen to me?"

Kelly: It's just like, such a more simple, everyday feeling that is like ... Even in manga, like Maid Sama! where it's like, high jinks—

Ashley: Super high jinks.

Kelly: Improbable happenings. Like, "We're a member of the band, what?" Obviously some crazy stuff is going on. And this one is more like, you could know someone like Mao, you know?

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: You could know a person who—

Ashley: I mean, I know Chihiro, like that is just so bad.

Kelly: Right? And it has just more of like a everyday kind of feeling, which I feel like, yeah, it's just not as exciting and not as valued, and it doesn't have ... Like, a manga it kind of reminds me of is FLYING WITCH, which is very, very different, but has a kind of similar understated sense of humor. Where it's like, the jokes land kind of in silence, like somewhat like House of the Sun where you're just like, oh, that's silly. Like, Mao's being dumb. And less like, huge punchlines. But that one has a fantasy hook, because it's like slice of life, but she's a witch, and so she is sort of doing magical things while also having just these daily ... That one's more of a comedy, but it has that kind of more like, even keeled, no high drama—

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: No ... Like, there's drama in House of the Sun, but, it gets resolved. No one gets hit by a car. No one's house burns down.

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: No one is like, running dramatically to the airport in the rain to stop someone from getting on a flight, you know, it's like the most dramatic thing that happens is like, you work up the courage to talk to someone about a topic that is difficult for you. Which is total everyday, actual real life drama.

Ashley: I know. Yeah. And the most dramatic thing from a societal, weird standpoint, is that like, okay, yeah, it's pretty weird that Mao's dad is just like, "I'm her legal guardian. I let her live with Hiro." But it's not like ... cops don't become involved. They're not like some like—

Kelly: Right?

Ashley: It doesn't become—

Kelly: This is neglect! Someone call CPS.

Ashley: Yeah, yeah. It never escalates to that, so you're just like, okay.

Kelly: Yeah, they're just like, we are just trying to find out how we can be happy as people, and finding love along the way. And actually, there is another manga that has a similar title, what is it called? It's by the same girl who wrote ORANGE. It's DREAMIN' SUN.

Ashley: Oh, yeah.

Kelly: Have you read any of it?

Ashley: No, but I definitely always get it ... Like, when you said it, I was like, "Hey, no. Not the same manga."

Kelly: Not House of the Sun. Dreamin' Sun, which Seven Seas put out in actual paper books, unlike this one. And you can get them from a library. But it has a very similar premise where the girl has a new family at home, she has a new step-parent and a new sibling, so she leaves and goes and lives at essentially a boarding house with these two guys she goes to school with, so like, you know.

Ashley: Of course. Duh.

Kelly: Romance in the air, living with other high school boys. And so it has the similar kind of premise where she's like, "I don't feel like I have a place at home, and I'm gonna go find myself outside the home." And the guy who runs the boarding house that she lives in is also kind of young. He's like a young professional, too.

Ashley: Okay.

Kelly: At some point, she kind of has a thing for him. And I'm like, "This is so much like House of the Sun, except for it's way worse."

Ashley: Ooh.

Kelly: But, I know, shots fired. Sorry, you guys who like Dreamin' Sun. I read a few volumes of it and I'm like, I can't believe that the House of the Sun didn't get print volumes and this did.

Ashley: Bullshit.

Kelly: This is like House of the Sun, but worse. It's not a bad manga, but for me, it's not extremely compelling. And the girl, her feelings jump around between all the boys, kind of. She's very fickle.

Ashley: Whichever one is nice to her that day, she's like, yeah—

Kelly: Yeah, kind of, she's like, "Oh, I'm really into him," and then she kind of gets rejected, and then she's like, "Oh, and now I'm really into my landlord who's like, 25 or something." And I'm like, "Okay." I would like to know how that manga is doing, and if it's selling well, 'cause I feel like it's kind of similar. But it has like more ... a higher level of high jinks because she lives with two high school boys.

Ashley: Yeah, of course. That's the only thing that's really getting more people to read it.

Kelly: Yeah, so I don't know. I like having these kind of series that will like ... Viz just published AO HARU RIDE. I feel like Ao Haru Ride is kind of ... is more higher drama from what I remember from the anime.

Ashley: Yeah, well, okay. But see, I think the hesitancy with Viz for Ao Haru Ride is that they picked up STROBE EDGE back in the day, which is Io Sakisaka's first manga, and that was the only one that we had in America. And it made—

Kelly: Yeah.

Ashley: This is where I perceive the difference in American and Japanese audiences, where like, Io Sakisaka's current manga, which I forget its name, it has a weird name, is one of the top selling manga in Japan, and is not licensed here. And it's just like, yeah, Io Sakisaka's really hot stuff in Japan, but like, I have to assume that Viz was hesitant to pick up Ao Haru Ride because Strobe Edge didn't do well, and Strobe Edge is, again, also a sort of quiet, like there's nothing—

Kelly: Yeah.

Ashley: Super dramatic that happens in it.

Kelly: No time travel.

Ashley: No, yeah, there's just hot boys vying for a girl, and it has a cool title. And it has pretty art. You know, it's super quiet—

Kelly: Yeah.

Ashley: And stuff. So their hesitancy over picking up Ao Haru Ride is like, well, you guys never show up for these manga, right?

Kelly: Right. It's like, you guys didn't turn out for Strobe Edge, but I'm like, also, you guys put that out a long time ago. I still have some volumes of Strobe Edge in my library. I have the whole thing, and it doesn't fly off the shelves, I'll tell you. 'Cause it is an older series.

Ashley: Yeah. But I still think it's kind of like, yeah, you know, you guys, we know you never show up for the ... There's a string of like ... We have sales data, you don't show up for this.

Kelly: Yeah. And I wonder if there's any ... If tastes are changing a little bit. Maybe just because there is more material out there in general. Remember when sports manga never got licensed?

Ashley: Yeah. And then they were like, oh, sports anime are doing well. Maybe we should ...

Kelly: Yeah—

Ashley: License stuff.

Kelly: Remember when sports manga were like, anathema because EYESHIELD didn't sell well or something. And now they're like, we got HAIKYU!!, we got YOWAMUSHI PEDAL, now we like all the sports manga. Like they didn't even put out KUROKO'S BASKETBALL until it was already done, because they were like, "No one will buy a manga about basketball. No one cares about sports." And I was like, "What."

Ashley: Have y'all scene what the hottest anime is?

Kelly: I know, exactly, I'm like, "But, have you seen the show?" Like, people have seen it, and there is significant fandom for Kuroko's Basketball.

Ashley: To be fair, it is more fun to watch sports anime 'cause you get to see the ... you know, it is about sports, you get to see them in motion, and you're like, okay, cool.

Kelly: Yes. It is true. It is more fun to watch sports anime.

Ashley: Whereas I don't think that it's more fun to watch shojo anime, for me, usually.

Kelly: I agree.

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: I'm trying to think of ... Like, I do like watching shojo anime, like shojo romance anime. But, I feel like ... I'm trying to think of one that I really, really liked.

Ashley: No.

Kelly: I don't know, I liked the Maid Sama! anime, but I watched it before the manga.

Ashley: Oh, yeah, I watched that before the manga, too. And I totally liked it, but, like, I don't know. To me, it's just, reading romance manga and shojo manga in general, is kind of like, I like to linger on the ... Like, you get to set the pace of how impactful a moment is to you.

Kelly: That is true. Yeah, it's like the big confession scene, you can be like, "Aw."

Ashley: Yeah, you can just sit there forever. You don't have to flip that page.

Kelly: You can just look. Look at all that sparkly screen tone.

Ashley: You can let that sink in for like, five minutes.

Kelly: Just let your heart fill up with doki dokis. I know, my husband makes fun of me because I read manga really slow compared to him. And I don't think I'm a slow reader, he's like exceptionally fast. But, I totally am like the person that does that, if there's a panel I like, I'm like, "Oh."

Ashley: Exactly.

Kelly: Or I like flip the page back to look at it again. So I'm like, "It takes me longer."

Ashley: Whereas like, you know, the Maid Sama! anime certainly has this sort of frenetic pacing because it's trying to cram all the jokes in there—

Kelly: Yeah.

Ashley: But it just has to go real fast that way so you're like, "Eh." It's more fun—

Kelly: I thought the YONA [OF THE DAWN] anime was really good, too, actually. But that one is more of like an action thing going on. It's kind of like ... It's similar to like FUSHIGI YUGI, with like, dragon boys and whatnot, so ... But, yeah, for quieter series, I feel like, yeah, reading the manga might just be better.

Ashley: But then nobody is reading the manga. What is wrong with this? This is a bad cycle to be in.

Kelly: I don't know, I feel like they just need ... Maybe they just need a different kind of exposure, and it's like a different kind of expectation. I feel like a lot of shojo romance stuff that got licensed a few years ago was ... I don't know, actually I feel like it's still a lot of shojo romance stuff gets licensed is kind of mediocre. There's a lot of series that I scroll by on Amazon when I'm looking for other stuff, and I'm like, what is that? I've never even heard of that. There's also been a trend of licensing a lot of those supernatural series, which I think also came in the wake of the paranormal romance YA craze.

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: Where TWILIGHT was really popular, so then it was like ... oh, and like, VAMPIRE KNIGHT—

Ashley: Oh, but see—

Kelly: And like those—

Ashley: Okay. If we're gonna link it to YA crazes, then yes, I think that now, quieter shojo romances would do well, because I think that that is the best place that YA is currently in, is that like, realistic, diverse romances are doing the best—

Kelly: Yeah, right? It's less—

Ashley: It's no longer dystopian or paranormal stuff. It's just like, real life.

Kelly: Right, and it's not like, "And she was bit by a vampire—"

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: Or ... I mean, and I'm like totally saying this as someone who really likes KAMISAMA KISS, like a lot of those Youkai, Shinto, fantasy based series—

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: Were really, really hot for a while, like DEMO PRINCE OF MOMOCHI HOUSE, and like, that style.

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: Of manga, where I think it was very much like, ooh, girls like fox boys. And I'm like, true. I'll cop to that. I like a fox boy.

Ashley: I like a good fox boy, yeah.

Kelly: For sure. Gimme one of them fox boys. But also, that was, I think, playing on that trend as well. And then if you look at the stuff that's being licensed in the josei realm. There's a lot more quieter ... not quieter, but just more realistic titles.

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: I guess, are getting a little bit more play, and so I feel like, maybe there's a chance.

Ashley: Yeah, maybe we're in the ... this is the prime time for Ao Haru Ride, finally.

Kelly: Yeah.

Ashley: We finally reached it.

Kelly: And like, WAITING FOR SPRING, which I really like.

Ashley: I really like Waiting for Spring.

Kelly: So, yeah. So maybe there is more of a market for these quieter series, but also go read House of the Sun.

Ashley: Yeah. Please read House of the Sun. That's basically the conclusion. And become a Daiki stan with me. Hmm. Yeah. I guess I never really tracked how manga crazes probably do link up to YA crazes pretty well. Or like—

Kelly: Yeah, well—

Ashley: General book trends here.

Kelly: 'Cause I feel like publishers are always looking at what sold well for them before, right?

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: 'Cause I used to work in publishing and that's literally how you buy a book, is you're like, "This book is similar to this book, and that book sold X amount of copies, so I think this book can sell Y amount of copies, 'cause it has a similar audience." And so, I always like looking for how to market those titles. And I feel like, we've only recently gotten to a point where you can market manga titles as just being like other similar manga titles. So I feel like once one title does well, like once Ao Haru Ride does well—

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: Then they'll be like, "Look at all these other similar series that we could comp this series to."

Ashley: No, I think a lot is riding on how Ao Haru Ride like ... I think Viz, at least perceives that they're taking a big chance on it, but everybody requested it over the years, so they're like, "All right. You say you're gonna buy this."

Kelly: I know, which is kind of like ...

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: Like, "Here we are taking this ginormous chance." I remember how long it took for PRINCESS JELLYFISH to get licensed. And everyone really wanted it because the anime was so good. And they were just like, "How can this possibly do well? I don't know." And I'm like, it seems to do fine. I have a copy of it on my shelves in my library, and it is always checked out. And then TOKYO TARAREBA GIRLS did well enough that Kondansha put it out in print after doing digital. So I'm like, people will show up—

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: For the ... like, I promise.

Ashley: I'm praying for you, Ao Haru Ride.

Kelly: I know, please. We want more just nice romance series.

Ashley: We want just quiet romance series. I really am always super curious ... I'm like, did Kimi ni Todoke do well? Or is it just like, oh—

Kelly: I also really wanna know—

Ashley: I know.

Kelly: That, as well. Especially because it's such a long series—

Ashley: So long.

Kelly: It's like, what, 30 volumes.

Ashley: There's no way that by the end, that's doing well.

Kelly: Well, right, because like every volume, you have to think that people drop off.

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: A little bit. Even people who are big fans maybe don't own like the last three or four volumes yet, you know, they're like, "Oh, I'll get to it." Or they're just like, "The series is already so long, I don't have any more room on my shelf."

Ashley: Yeah. The last one isn't out yet, but I will buy it. I will have all of it. I'm supporting all my quiet romances.

Kelly: It's definitely not one I own. I'm like, it's too long.

Ashley: Too long.

Kelly: I should just check this out from the library. But I know that's one of the considerations when doing licenses, too, is like, how long is this series gonna go? Because not every manga series is ONE PIECE and can support like, 85 volumes.

Ashley: Yeah, no, and I think a shojo that goes over, like, certainly one that goes over 20 volumes, is like, whoa, we're really pushing it now.

Kelly: Yeah. For sure. 'Cause then it's like, are people still ... Oh my god, SKIP BEAT! Like, holy—

Ashley: Oh, yeah.

Kelly: How many volumes is Skip Beat! on now?

Ashley: At least 40 something—

Kelly: 40 something? Oh my god. When is Skip Beat! gonna end?

Ashley: I don't know. I'm very scared of when it does.

Kelly: It's been going on so long. And that's another one that I have at my library, and it takes up so much room on the shelf, and people still read it, like, I still get asked for it. But, not at the same rate of like, other series, so I'm just like, oh my god, how long am I gonna keep buying these volumes? But also, shojo just doesn't get adapted as much into animes.

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: So maybe that is part of the problem, is like, it often doesn't get that anime buzz.

Ashley: No, that's definitely a problem is like, dudes will watch shojo anime, I think, and that can sometimes translate into something like, Ouran, or even like ... I mean, anime is always gonna make people know about a thing more, and possibly go buy the manga more. But yeah, because there's less shojo made into anime, I'm like, I don't know y'all, you just gotta know about your House of the Suns, you know? You gotta like do—

Kelly: Yeah.

Ashley: —your research.

Kelly: You have to go research, or you have to know about it. Yeah, 'cause they just don't ... I mean, I'm trying to think of recent ones. GAKUEN BABYSITTERS, that didn't make a big splash.

Ashley: No.

Kelly: Although it was really cute. But no, they didn't even license the manga. And I was like, oh, are we gonna get a manga license now of cute babies? But no—

Ashley: No.

Kelly: We just got the anime. And I bet that one is like, not an older series, but had been going on for quite some time, so ... Yeah, they just don't get made as much, which is like ... And then there's series that people think are shojo, and they aren't—

Ashley: Horimiya?

Kelly: Like Horimiya, or like Nozaki-kun.

Ashley: Yeah. No, I really hate any time I see people on Twitter ask like, "What's your favorite shojo manga?" And then people reply with those things, and I'm like, "I hate you."

Kelly: I know, I'm like, "Did you know—"

Ashley: I want to respect that you're trying, but also—

Kelly: "That this is not shojo."

Ashley: But also-

Kelly: They're like, "What? But it's like about love." No.

Ashley: I'm like, "But, it's a parody. Okay."

Kelly: I know ... well, yeah. Also, I saw someone refer to Nozaki-kun recently as a josei manga, and I was like, "No."

Ashley: No!

Kelly: Still no.

Ashley: Even harder no.

Kelly: Like, "Oh, why don't we get more josei adaptations like Nozaki-kun?" I was like, "Maybe 'cause Nozaki-kun isn't a josei manga."

Ashley: First of all, you're all a mess here, yeah. Quiet romances—

Kelly: I know.

Ashley: You need to find yourself.

Kelly: The struggle. The struggle of the quiet romance manga.

Ashley: Yeah.

Kelly: But I really love them.

Ashley: I know. I love them whenever I do read them. It's just they're so not talked about because it's a cycle of nobody talks about them, so then you never hear about them, so then you don't read them, and you're just like—

Kelly: I know. But we're talking about them—

Ashley: We're talking about them.

Kelly: We're talking about them.

Ashley: Y'all just gonna have to deal with it.

Kelly: And now people will know.

Ashley: So, yeah, this is coming out after Kimi ni Todoke, so we'll have gone Kimi ni Todoke to House of the Sun. So, you're welcome, quiet shojo romance fans. All right, well now that we've done a thorough dissection of ... The woes of the manga publishing industry, and why shojo is not always the hottest thing in the market, I guess I'll read this outro.

Ashley: Thanks for listening to Shojo and Tell. Comments, questions, concerns? You need to gush about your OTP? Wanna be a Daiki stan with me? Please come be a Daiki stan with me. Email, or leave a comment on We're at Shojo and Tell on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr. Yeah. Kelly, where can people find you and your work on the internet?

Kelly: Oh, you can find me on Twitter at kellyqute, Q, U, T, E. You can find my podcast, One Panel Later, which is about comics and manga—

Ashley: Whoa.

Kelly: East meets west, what? Also on Twitter at onepanellater or at our website, You can also find my writing on the Barnes and Noble sci-fi and fantasy blog and on the library interview blog, No Flying, No Tights.

Ashley: Yeah, you should listen to One Panel Later, and again, just hard agree with everything Kelly says. Although, admittedly, you guys talking about FENCE recently, I discovered that I have free access to that, and I was like—

Kelly: Ooh.

Ashley: I'm intrigued enough to read Fence.

Kelly: If you read Fence, then you need to be a guest on our podcast and we can talk about it.

Ashley: Okay, great. I also loved CHECK, PLEASE!, and I play ice hockey, and you guys talked about how you didn't like that it doesn't actually teach you about ice hockey, but I like that part. I'm like, "Thank you. I understand how ice hockey works, so thank you for just being a comic about bro culture and making it the better parts of bro culture, though."

Kelly: Well then I'll never know how ice hockey works.

Ashley: Maybe you should just watch some ice hockey, Kelly.

Kelly: This is my chance. I only learn about sports through sports manga. That's the only reason I know the rules of basketball.

Ashley: Okay, well, I'm sorry that Check, Please! is definitely not gonna teach you about the rules of hockey. It just does not care. Anyway, are you excited every time you see a new episode from us? If so, please consider leaving a rating in iTunes or Stitcher. This will help the podcast reach more hearts, or at least ears. Thanks again for listening. I don't actually know what we're gonna be back with more next time because we're recording this in October, and it doesn't come out until February, so—

Kelly: Yeah, Happy Halloween from the past!

Ashley: From the past. Yeah, I have many things that I want to do. I think I wanna do THE YOUNG MASTER'S REVENGE by Meca Tanaka. That's a short one. It's four volumes. It will have semi-recently ended. So, maybe? I don't know. Or maybe we'll do ... you know, PHANTOM THIEF JEANNE by Arina Tanemura, or like TOKYO BABYLON by Clamp. I can't promise ... Don't quote me, okay? Just don't .. Just stayed tuned for whatever it is. Until then, bye.