Shino Tadokoro longs to be a normal high school girl with a normal, perfect life. And from the outside, she appears to have it all; a great group of friends, a fun after school job, a happy existence. Her only problem, Tamotsu, her hermit brother, a secret she’s kept from everyone. All her school friends believe she is the only child in her family. Shino dreads the thought of anyone finding out she has lied to them. Her brother, Tamotsu, has spent years in his bedroom, locked away, and refusing to speak. He became such a problem in their lives that their father moved Tamotsu and Shino to a new town to try and start over. Shino welcomed this move as an opportunity to be ‘reborn’ and escape her old image as the indolent and troublemaking Tamotsu’s little sister.
Everything had been going according to Shino’s plans for two years. Tamotsu stayed locked away and Shino, with her best friend Saki, talk about their crushes and plan for the school dance. Completely oblivious to Shino’s new life, Tamotsu suddenly decides to give up his life as a shut in and begins to slowly come out of his shell. At first Shino thinks it’s all a bad dream. But when Tamotsu continues making his presence known around the house, Shino knows something has to be done.
The stress of coming up with more and more little white lies to cover her brother’s tracks begins to take a toll on Shino and she becomes ill. Her friend, Saki wonders what Shino may be hiding and plans a surprise visit to Shino’s house where she meets Tamotsu. The next day Shino knows she must face Saki and the rest of her friends at school and come clean. She builds up the courage to apologize to Saki and beg forgiveness. To Shino’s surprise, Saki admits that she had guessed Shino wasn’t an only child and they both have a laugh over the whole matter.
Shino is amazed at how light she feels now that her secret is out. She has a wonderful time at the school dance with her crush Natsui. Tamotsu, outside of the house for the first time in years, is inspired by the energy and lust for life his sister has and vows to become a better person. Together, Shino and Tamotsu agree to help each other and dive into the unknown.
This was a cute little ‘slice of life’ story written by Kinoko Higurashi and produced by Kondasha Comics. I thought the character introductions were pretty good. Shino acts as the pair of eyes into Tamotsu’s volatile backstory, where we get to see him fall into a bad crowd and begin acting out. The story development was a little slow but by the end it gained a solid direction and, my guess is, in future novels it will move at a quicker pace.
The memories that Shino shared of her brother when they were young were very sweet. I particularly liked the vignette of Tamotsu making Shino’s lunch and remembering how she always wanted her apple slices cut into bunny shapes. This was the triggering of Shino accepting that her brother really cared for her and didn’t actually want to make her life miserable. I look forward to seeing more little memories like that and watching how the nervous Tamotsu continues to take tentative steps into society.
The little mid chapter animated strips were pretty entertaining too. They featured the voice of the author, drawn as a Toad (from Mario Bros) look-alike, describing her story and writing process.
Find ‘My Brother the Shut In” here!
Kodansha Comics provided us with a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review.