The Spring 2018 Manga Guide
The Elder Sister-Like One
What's It About?Yuu has been shuffled from unwilling relative to unwilling relative ever since his parents died when he was five years old. Now fourteen, the grumpy second cousin who's most recently taken him in has landed in the hospital, leaving the lonely boy on his own again.
Perhaps that's why when, as he's looking for his guardian's insurance card, he accidentally summons an Elder One, he tells her that his wish is for her to become his big sister. The demon is visibly surprised, but she quickly agrees. Renaming herself “Chiyo,” she takes on human form and begins living with Yuu in his guardian's huge, empty house, making sure that he won't have to be alone any more.
Is It Worth Reading?Rebecca Silverman
You just never know where Cthulu are going to pop up these days. Iida Pochi's supernatural romance/cozy family story certainly doesn't seem like a place where you'd expect to find eldritch Elders, but that's just what's going on here – when lonely middle schooler Yuu accidentally summons a tentacled demon in his guardian's secret basement. The twist is that when she asks him his wish, Yuu tells her that he wants her to become his big sister, because this poor kid is so unbelievably lonely that he can't cope anymore. And thus begins a surprisingly heartwarming tale of a boy and a buxom demon cohabitating.
It really does feel surprising, not only because the story started out as a hentai doujinshi, but also because generally tales of scantily-clad supernatural women living with underage boys are anything but sweet and charming. While it is still abundantly clear that this began its life as hentai, the core of the book is Yuu's desperate need for companionship and someone to actually treat him like family. When the story opens we see another one of his adult relations badmouthing him within his hearing, berating her husband about having gotten involved with the young orphan in the first place and basically calling him a waste of space. This, it seems, is how Yuu's been treated all of his life by family members who didn't want to take him in after his parents died in an accident. While the author does try to explain that later in the book – apparently he can see ghosts and yokai – such information isn't really needed. All we truly need to know about why a fourteen-year-old would be so desperate for love that he'd ask a literal hellspawn for it is that he's been rejected by everyone else he's ever met. (Of course, if Iida had introduced Yuu's sight earlier in the book, it might have felt more relevant; three-quarters of the way through the volume just feels shoehorned in.) He's definitely afraid of Chiyo when he first meets her in that secret basement, but we also get the feeling that if she decides to kill him instead of acceding to his wish, he wouldn't be that sad.
Things do get a little awkward and potentially uncomfortable once Yuu and Chiyo start living together. For every heartwarming scene of Chiyo trying to be the very best big sister she can be, there's a kind of creepy one of her using her tentacles to “clean” him, and the part where he takes off his dirty shirt prior to being hosed down makes it abundantly clear that she finds his undeveloped body sexually attractive. For his part, Yuu really would prefer to keep their relationship as one of siblings, but he's just so happy to have someone to share his days with that I suspect he'd agree to any kind of relationship if it meant not being alone anymore. The transition between the racy parts and the sweeter ones isn't always smooth, and at times it feels as if Iida wasn't sure what to cut and what to keep when she was transitioning the story from hentai to merely risqué. The art makes a better job of it, not using too many goopy fluids and instead relying on implication and a lot of boob.
It may not be quite as settled as I'd like, but The Elder Sister-like One's first volume really does have a surprising amount of heart. Yuu is very sympathetic and Chiyo's trying her darndest to make his life better, even if she doesn't always get it right. It can be a little uncomfortable, but on the whole has potential to be more than you're expecting.
Despite its “Mature” rating, The Elder Sister-like One is relatively harmless and banal. (Presumably frisky tentacle hair might be a bit too much for the ratings board.) In fact, it's so slow-paced and uneventful that it's rather dull. The volume is shorter than the typical volume of manga, too, so it's a fast read, even if the “plot” is slow-paced, but there's not much that sticks with you once you're finished. Yuu asking a beautiful demon to be his older sister (because he melodramatically keeps losing all his family and is disliked by the distant relatives who take him in) should set the stage for plenty of fish-out-of-water jokes. However, what little comedy there is doesn't really elicit laughter. It's a manga that attempts to be sincere in Yuu's quest for human affection and Chiyo's overeaerness to comply, but it just feels like a collection of boring skits featuring two homebodies who have the hots for each other. Its attempts at being erotic fall short considerably, though it is interesting to see Chiyo be the more dominant and feely one in the relationship. Yuu is so milquetoast as to be annoying and Chiyo remains one-note throughout the volume. Yuu's constant alluding in the narration to something big and serious happening by summer's end—unsurprising, given the fact that he accidentally summoned a demon and is just chilling with her—doesn't do much to add to the tension.
Pochi's character designs aren't that original, though Chiyo's demonic form has a few interesting details, like the necklace made of eyes. Backgrounds are fairly evenly split between blank spaces/screentones and more detailed depictions of the characters' surroundings, but the setting is largely confined to a single uncluttered house, so there isn't much to look at even when there isn't empty space. The one visually interesting environment might be the storehouse in which Yuu finds Chiyo, but even that doesn't get much emphasis in the art, with Pochi again relying more on white space and screetones than details to fill in the background.
The Elder Sister-like One volume 1 isn't the most over-the-top erotic manga, nor is it particularly one-of-a-kind. It just kind of exists, promising more than it does and delivering little. Perhaps readers who adore the “onee-san” trope will get the most out of it, but even then, it's too short and too slow-paced to offer much entertainment.
An orphaned teen accidentally makes a deal with a Lovecraftian Elder God to be his big sister but she's really bad at it so instead they get in lots of sexy situations instead. You'll never look at goats the same way again!
Yen Press has rated this first volume as Mature and sure, there's some fanservice moments in here that take a step or two beyond the usual panty shot, but things never get to To Love Ru: Darkness territory here. In fact, for a story centered around Lovecraftian mythos, I wouldn't have minded things getting a little weirder or gorier or something. Instead, The Elder Sister-like One is more interested in toeing the line between familial warmth and sexy scenarios with not nearly enough monster to make its gimmick stick. Chiyo herself is based on Lovecraft's Shub-Niggurath, otherwise known as “The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young.” Iida Pochi takes only a few qualities from the creature itself to create Chiyo, namely horns and cloven feet. She also possess tentacle like hair that Yuu refers to as “feelers.” As monster designs go, I think Chiyo is a little lackluster, being little more than a satyr. I think goat-pupiled eyes would at least made her more distinctive.
Without her monster attributes (that are hidden whenever she's attempting to blend in) Chiyo is otherwise a very stereotypical older sister type. She's well-meaning but a little air-headed, especially when it comes to her unintentional sexual advances, with a quick-to-anger streak when it comes to protecting Yuu. Of course, her sister-like qualities are meant more to entice readers than actually fill a family role for Yuu. She's meant to heal his trauma of abandonment while also giving enough T&A to keep readers turning the pages. All that sexiness is fine but...maybe Yuu didn't have to be 14 years old?
As far as monster girls go, The Elder Sister-like One is a little tame for a medium that includes harpies erotically laying eggs. I don't feel that it quite taps into its monstrous roots to deliver something as unique as it could be, given the lore it has to pull from. I would be interested in seeing more eldritch ladies show up in the future, but it's hard to say what Pochi's plans are for this manga given that it was originally intended to be a dojinshi.
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