Beware the Kamiki Brothers!
神木兄弟おことわり (Kamiki Kyoudai Okotowari)
Shoujo – Comedy, romance
6 Volumes (complete)
After failing a test badly, Iroha definitely didn’t want the most famous guy in school announcing it to the whole class! But while Iroha intended to keep her bad grade a secret, her mom has been keeping one of her own: her fiancé’s sons aren’t 6 and 4 — they’re 16 and 14! And the older is very familiar to Iroha…
Beware of Beware the Kamiki Brothers! for being a substandard manga.
So this story is another stepsibling romance story. But unlike most, Iroha has met the man her mom has been seeing. Even more surprisingly, she’s “met him too many times to count” — a dramatic reversal from many stepsibling stories where the protagonist doesn’t meet their new stepparent until after the paperwork is signed and/or moving plans are already in full swing. But Keiko (Iroha’s mom) kept the fact the sons of the man she’s dating are teenagers. This surprises her fiancé, Shirou, as he knew his oldest, Souichirou, attends the same school as Iroha.
So considering Shirou and Iroha have had plenty of chances to have a conversation, it seems unbelievable that Iroha would have never heard that Shirou’s sons are teenagers, not little kids. Not knowing his family name is maybe understandable. This is one time where I think the protagonist never meeting their new stepparent would have made more sense!
Anyway, Iroha collapses from the shock, as just that day, she scored 4 points on her science test (out of 100). Her best friend, Serina, mentions Iroha could use a blessing from the local good grades kami (god). But not a deity of a shrine or anything — a smart, hot guy in their grade named Kamiki. This same guy later loudly delivers the test she left behind in the science lab, likely partly because he overheard Iroha and Serina’s conversation and partly because he was irritated when he tries to find Iroha other girls squealed at him and ran away. Regardless, he mutters his dissatisfaction and leaves, and Iroha is stunned to learn that the Souichirou Shirou was calling for is the same “kami” at her school.
Shirou orders Souichirou to tutor Iroha, and while neither of them are thrilled with the arrangement, arguments ensue when Souichirou climbs in Iroha’s bed to take a nap and then when he later says he doesn’t want her starting to like him just because they touched. Shirou and Keiko decide to hold off on their marriage for a bit just to see if things work out, and Souichirou tells Iroha to keep the whole thing a secret. And then after Souichirou walks into the bathroom on a changing Iroha, Iroha humiliating herself due to their swapped lunches, and spilled wine that looked like a suicide attempt, Iroha realizes she loves Souichirou — and he’s also confused by the way he’s feeling.
And so was I. This isn’t a manga where I could easily tell you why Souichirou and Iroha were suddenly so drawn to each other. I mean, I understand in the general shoujo manga sense — Souichirou is truly just so kind, y’see, he wanted Iroha to understand the dangers of living with men, and Iroha is not as shallow as other girls! But in terms of Beware the Kamiki Brothers!? Nah, no clue. It wasn’t like either of them did anything really praiseworthy or noteworthy that was a turning point in their relationship. I mean, in most shoujo romance, it’s usually:
This guy is a jerk + this chick is annoying –> Maybe they’re not so bad –> I love them!
This guy is a jerk + this chick like all the others is annoying –>
Maybe they I love them!
I mean, Souichirou in the first chapter and again in the third says he doesn’t want to get stuck in that stepsibling romance trope. It’s unclear how long they’ve been living together at this point, but I’d say less than 2 weeks. Then Iroha stands there with her eyes closed waiting for a present and… Souichirou is entranced and leans in toward her?? What part of her tagging along with Toujirou to spy on him or throwing his not-thank-you back in his face was so special to him? Because that’s all that happened in those three chapters + the initial fights.
Plus, there’s the title. As you would expect, Toujirou also develops feelings for Iroha. A cheerful gamer, he quickly crushes on Iroha and tries several times to get her attention. But despite the fact she finds herself drawn to her (technically-not-yet) stepbrother, it never dawns on her that Toujirou’s “I like you!” could be anything but familial. Or that sitting together at a cafe and eating off each other’s fork makes them not look like siblings. Oh, and Souichirou knows but basically insists his younger brother is just a dumb middle schooler who doesn’t know anything.
Because I guess everything everything you need to know about love you learn in ninth grade, I guess. *rolls eyes*
I know part of sibling relationships is the older sibling tends to be act like a know-it-all, but geez, both Souichirou and Iroha treat Toujirou as if he’s 10 years behind them in age instead of 2. He didn’t deserve to have his feelings waved away by the other two despite him doing exactly what they’re doing: falling for their (soon-to-be) stepsibling! Despite the title, there is no reason for Iroha to beware of him, as it’s not like he’s trying to forcefully win Iroha over. Telling someone you love them then asking them to close their eyes while you lean in is anything but subtle. Toujirou unfortunately gets the message time and again that Iroha only has eyes for Souichirou.
Except to Iroha, of course. Toujirou is definitely the cute younger brother (and sweeter to boot), and if Souichirou or whoever worries about his maturity level, well, maybe they should worry more about Iroha’s brains. Serina tells Iroha to her face several times Iroha is as dumb as a bucket of rocks. When tired or whatever, well, Iroha tends to get into trouble. Including dozing off through an entire meeting (after spacing out enough to accidentally volunteer in the first place), wandering into the boy’s room at an inn, and cooing about “Kamiki-kun” (Souichirou) in the middle of class.
I mean, naive is one thing. For me, Iroha just falls into the annoyingly dumb category. She doesn’t seem to have any special talents or interests, and she’s not especially kind or helpful. So the author went in too hard on the “Iroha is average/below average and nobody would ever think the so-popular, handsome, and smart kami of the school would ever go out with her, but yes, even a dull girl can win over a handsome god!!” that the protagonist becomes too flat and/or annoying to relate too. Iroha can eat a lot of sweets — that’s about the extent of how I could describe her. Later in the manga, there’s a chapter where Iroha declares she’s not as weak as Souichirou thinks she is, and he explains why he’s attracted to her. But nothing made me go, “Wow, I’m sooo glad she got the man of her dreams!” here.
Well, except for the fact that meant the manga was finally over.
Souichirou too is one of those leads that doesn’t deserve all the fangirl attention he gets. The manga explains his popularity to the effect of girls like naughty guys, but I have no idea where rumors of Souichirou patting people on the head means your grades will go up. He never seems like the type that would do such a thing, as he seems pretty inexperienced around girls. He doesn’t seem to like girls because they tend to admire all his talents and don’t get to actually know him, which is a legitimate gripe. But I don’t understand after 16 years, how accusing a girl of not having a sense of danger was one of the catalysts for falling for her after just a few days.
Iroha and Souichirou got off on the wrong foot with me, and the way their relationship developed did little to change that first impression. It’s like for much of the manga, Beware the Kamiki Brothers! wants, to borrow a phrase even Iroha would understand, to have its cake and eat it too. The title, but it’s not a serious love triangle. Parents who at least want to listen to their kids’ concerns about being a family but still hide the boys’ ages. Souichirou not wanting to Iroha to get weird ideas about stepsibling romance but has no issue wanting to nap in her bed the first day they met. Just a lot of shaking my head moments.
So what is good about the series? Toujirou is a cutie, and if he had been the romantic lead (even better, the only one), the story would be different from most stepsibling romances. The dad is objectively good looking and involved in his kids’ lives. There’s no dramatic ex-girlfriend drama. Serina, Iroha’s best friend, I think was supposed to be funny with her bluntness and interest in the latest news, and I times I did find myself chuckling, but she walks a very thin line at times. I mean, one of her first lines is calling Iroha dumb, which is true, but without any comedic art to back it up, it reads as pretty harsh.
The art can be pretty, especially in the climax as Iroha and Souchirou synchronize as they search for each other. Honestly, I don’t get all the hubbub about Souichirou’s appearance (seriously, Shirou > Souichirou), but Onda does a good job of capturing the Toujirou’s youthful energy and appearance. There’s very little action or mature content — about the most extreme is Iroha hugging Souchirou while he’s sitting and he’s standing which causes a blush for obvious reasons. I imagine Beware the Kamiki Brothers! is an option for those who don’t want to worry about graphic content. This is a rare title where the first kiss happens late in the story, after feelings are confirmed. But the manga is soft and relaxing in tone and atmosphere. Panels tend to be large and layouts simple, which again is good for younger readers. A fine modern shoujo work.
Honorifics are used. A few footnotes are included in the series, but they usually point to the more in-depth translation notes at the end of the volumes. Some, like the kami/Kamiki pun, are explained several times.
How many of you ladies out there have been out of it enough to say yes to a little kid who asks to grab your chest? If that’s the type of ditzy, clueless heroine you root for, then Beware the Kamiki Brothers! should be A-OK with you. For everyone else, search for a different stepsibling romance manga. There’s a high probability it will be better than this one.