Days with my Stepsister – Episode 1

By: Cy Catwell July 5, 20240 Comments
Yuta helps Saki and her mom haul a bunch of gifts inside.

What’s it about? When Yuta’s father remarries, he goes from living alone to living with his new stepsister, Saki Ayase, a.k.a. the hottest girl in his grade. Together, they mutually vow to maintain their distance, the echoes of their parents’ difficult divorces still ringing in their ears. Yet as time passes, feelings start to blossom. Is this mutual respect, filial love, or something more…?

I’m an only child. Well, technically, I have a half-sister, but as she’s decades older than me, I was raised as an only child and experienced life as the sole child in my home. 

All that to say, I don’t understand the appeal of inter-sibling romance.

I mean, I do because I’ve been actively writing fanfiction since the aughts. I get why there’s appeal: there’s the taboo, the concept of intimacy coming from someone who knows you on such an intimate level. Heck, I just watched an arc of Revolutionary Girl Utena where this exact thing gets deconstructed. (No spoilers in the comments please!) But I still don’t personally get it. The thought of engaging in a relationship that is romantic with a sibling, even a step-sibling, when our parents are married puts me through so many drought expressions that I just…don’t really cotton to it.

That said, Days with my Stepsister is that story, with a light novel series labeled as a “romantic comedy,” which definitely means that this is going to end up with our two protagonists–i.e. our two step-siblings–in some sort of romantic entanglement. Question is, is there more to this story than what I know is already going to happen?

Yuta and Saki stiffly chat while getting refreshments.

Episode 1 opens with Yuta finding out that his father is going to be remarrying. It’s something of a gut punch: while it’s not said, it’s clear that his parents’ divorce really affected Yuta. Yet there’s nothing he can do. His dad is set on remarrying: all Yuta can do is follow one step behind his dad.

Enter Saki, his new stepsister. They hit it off pretty quickly, though Saki makes it clear she doesn’t expect anything from Yuta, and that mutually, he shouldn’t either. They’ve been brought together solely by their respective custodial parents: there’s no need to play at being a genuine family.

Hard cut to the future when Saki and her mother are moving in. There’s no going back for Yuta or Saki: their family is blended now, and they have to find a way to politely exist without necessarily impeding on each other’s lives. Question is, can they find their balance as older brother and younger sister?

Yuta and Saki look out at the city while discussing their future as siblings.

It’s hard to appreciate this story knowing that it’s going to end in a romance, or at least having a pretty solid gut instinct that if it’s got the rom-com label, it’s going there. It’s a shame because I actually like the dynamic: this feels like a realistic brother-sister relationship. Yuta and Saki have a tension born of their families merging and having to just kind of go along with their parent’s decisions. It feels authentic, feels real. But I know in the back of my head that this is going to be a sibling romance.

It’s a shame too, because I like the realistic way that Yuta and Saki orient themselves around each other: we know they’re capable of being fleshed out people, but they spend most of this episode talking to each other in such a stilted way that reveals their discomfort and adjustment to this new situation. Yeah, it’s not always the best script writing, but I think the show is trying to get at something in regard to the trauma Yuta and Saki experienced in relation to their parents’ respective divorces.

Some might call the pacing glacial here, but it’s honestly quite thoughtful: I like the intent, the way that this plays out like a live-action drama. I like the interstitial moments of Yuta and Saki’s new house, of them mutually discovering their way around one another. There’s something beautiful actually, between the comedic moments of family coming together and the moments where no one speaks. I think there’s something worthwhile here, something pleasantly slow. Sometimes, that pace is worth exploring: not everything has to go at breakneck speed. After all, real life is slow sometimes: perhaps it’s worth appreciating that kind of speed.

Yuta's father warmly welcomes Saki and her mom with a bit too much energy.

I’m ending this review with very mixed feelings: a part of me wants to invest in Days with my Stepsister and see my gut feeling completely tossed out the window. Another part of me knows that if, indeed, things get romantic, I’ll regret my time with this show instantly. So is it worth it?

This is one case where I can’t say yes or not. If you’re not into sibling romance, if it’s just not your thing, it feels like this show is destined to disappoint you. However, if it ends up just being a show about two step-siblings learning to care about one another? Then I think there’s quiet value here in a show that’s slow about its plot in what feels like a thoughtful, reflective way.

About the Author : Cy Catwell

Cy Catwell is a Queer Blerd journalist and JP-EN translation & localization editor with a passion for idols, citypop, visual novels, and the iyashikei/healing anime genre.

You can follow their work as a professional Blerd at Backlit Pixels, get snapshots of their out of office life on Instagram at @pixelatedrhapsody, and follow them on their Twitter at @pixelatedlenses.

Read more articles from Cy Catwell

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