My Stepmom’s Daughter Is My Ex (Mamahaha no Tsurego ga Moto Kano Datta) is a romance-comedy light novel by Kyōsuke Kamishiro. While the light novel is published in English by J-Novel Club, it’s also received an anime adaptation from Project No.9.
The Dual Protagonists
Interestingly, despite the title, My Stepmom’s Daughter Is My Ex is told through two perspectives and both characters are as important as the other. The idea of their true nature versus their impressions of each other is explored on occasion, but they both seem like normal teens and come across as very real in many ways, perhaps due to showing their negative traits just as often as the positive.
Mizuto is somewhat apathetic and a bit of an aloof loner. He can be friendly, but he cares about books far more than he cares about people. Other than that, he’s a fairly typical student with good grades and a somewhat handsome face. He does have some bad habits that come out on occasion though which can cause issues, but he’s generally kind, despite often acting mean towards Yume.
Yume used to be rather reserved but has grown to be more open. She’s more able to navigate social situations than Mizuto but still has an obsession with books, particularly mystery novels. Her grades are even better than Mizuto’s, bringing her acclaim from her peers along with her beauty. At times her mask slips to reveal that she can be quite nasty under that cheery sociable high-schooler facade. Around Mizuto, the mask is rarely ever on.
They both tend to bring out the worst in each other due to some trying circumstances.
An Awkward Reunion…
Mizuto’s father and Yume’s mother decided to marry each other. This would be a cause for celebration except for one thing. Until two weeks ago their children, Mizuto and Yume, had been secretly dating and had no idea their parents were in a relationship.
With things between them ending on bad terms, being forced to live together, keep their previous relationship secret, and act as if they get along for their parent’s benefit is a trying task. Beyond that, there are certainly moments where we can see that they aren’t quite as over each other as they’d claim.
Seeing Mizuto and Yume constantly snipe at each other is certainly comedic, but even more amusing are the situations that this dynamic leads to. One early agreement is a game where they’ll lose if they treat each other as anything other than family. Of course, this leads to immediately trying to trip the other up into losing rather than getting along. There’s plenty of bickering, trickery, romantic tension, and occasional flashbacks to a happier time to be seen in My Stepmom’s Daughter Is My Ex. A strength of this light novel is how the characters interact and it’s on full display at these times.
High School Debut
On top of suddenly moving in together they’re starting high school, and in the same class at that. Mizuto has quite a hard time fitting in, being somewhat anti-social along with other difficulties. Yume meanwhile is trying to make a good impression after being rather quiet in middle school. This causes some interesting reactions.
Following the normal light novel template, a new male and female friend appear. There’s more than there appears to be with this though. The two fulfill a different role, rather than just supporting the characters in their romance like most friend characters. Akatsuki and Kogure have their own desires and circumstances to deal with, which is more than a lot of similar novels do with these characters. These tie nicely into Mizuto and Yume’s situation, creating an engaging conflict and helping to spark new developments in the plot.
Perhaps getting ahead of myself, I’m aware that another character is due to appear in volume 2 of My Stepmom’s Daughter Is My Ex, which should incite even more chaos. I can see it working nicely with the current situation.
Perhaps the most interesting part of Mizuto and Yume’s dynamic is their love-hate relationship. While the insults thrown and other negative interactions are most often on display, we can see moments of tenderness and sweet romance. Despite this, any progress between the two is certainly slow and the only thing they agree on, other than loving to read, is that they should act as siblings, not exes.
My Stepmom’s Daughter Is My Ex shows Mizuto and Yume’s feelings on the situation by frequently changing the point of view and using flashbacks from both perspectives, which I found worked well. Even in volume one, we can see their feelings slowly changing and reflecting on what went wrong, even if the status quo is kept.
I’ve already mentioned that the character interactions are praiseworthy, but the writing in general is great too. It flows well, makes use of some interesting imagery and slightly dramatic internal thoughts at times, and the character voices all feel unique. Overall the pacing works out well too.
The illustrations are by Takayaki, who has worked on several other projects, most notably the Arifureta – From Commonplace to World’s Strongest light novels. They’ve provided seven greyscale inserts and three color illustrations.
A couple of them are slightly lewd, highlighting a couple of times that sex and nudity come up in My Stepmom’s Daughter Is My Ex. Otherwise, they’re showing other key moments. I felt like the expressions and feelings expressed were particularly well represented here. I was happy to see that some illustrations focus on the flashbacks too, since past events are a large focus in this light novel.
Volume one of My Stepmom’s Daughter Is My Ex is a great start and has given me high expectations for the rest of the series going forward. I really enjoyed the back-and-forth between Mizuto and Yume, along with the more touching romantic moments. The way that their friends fit into the dynamic works much better than I would have expected and I’m interested in exploring that side of things too in future volumes, along with seeing what happens between the main characters and if any issues with their new family appear.
MY STEPMOM’S DAUGHTER IS MY EX IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Looking for another read? Why not check out Saving 80,000 Gold in Another World For My Retirement. Or check out more of our light novel reviews.
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A gamer since the days of Amstrad and DOS and someone who has dabbled in a variety of professions. He enjoys a wide variety of genres, but has been focusing on visual novels and virtual reality in recent years. Head Editor of NookGaming. Follow him and the website on @NookSite.