By Kota Nozomi and Nanasemeruchi. Released in Japan as “Choppiri Toshiue Demo Kanojo ni Shite Kuremasu ka?” by GA Bunko. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Sean Orth.
It has to be said, Japan views May-December romances differently than we do here in the West. You only have to pick up any shoujo magazine to find at least one story where a girl is quietly dating her teacher. In real life, relationships between older men and younger women are still pretty common in Japan – and indeed, we even get one in this book, as the heroine’s friend Yuki is married to a man twelve years older than her. That said, this book is really trying to hit a different level. The author states up front their goal, once commissioned to write a light novel, was to write something starring an older woman, and that GA Bunko rejected this at first. The author has done other successful series with GA Bunko, including When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace, and so probably got this after amassing enough brownie points. Now, at last, they can write the story of a 27-year-old OL who ends up dating a 15-year-old high school student… ergh.
One day, Momota rescues a high school girl, Hime, from a molester on a train. She thanks him, and they seem to immediately bond. They exchange numbers. That said, he did notice that if she was wearing that school uniform, it was a bit small for her busty frame. And also that her school is in the opposite direction. What’s more, her gaming talk seems somewhat… old-fashioned? After a cute date, he works up the nerve to confess, which is when she breaks down, rejects him, and tells the truth: she’s a 27-year-old office worker who, due to various drunken circumstances, was wearing her friend’s school uniform that day. He’s somewhat poleaxed, but his feelings are not changing. And, she finally admits, she’s fallen in love with him as well. They both know that this is wrong, and they’d be in huge trouble if it became public, but they decide to date anyway.
It tries, I’ll grand you that. Everyone in the book who is not the two leads tells them not to do this. Unfortunately, they’re all subsequently won over by the couple’s passionate love. The two of them are not very good at dating or romance, particularly Hime, and their failure to properly communicate drives the last half of the book, even lasting into the final section, where they decide to go on a overnight trip/date so no one knows who they are… but he comes in a suit, and she comes in a uniform, and O. Henry plays a sad trombone. But the main issue with the book is that I cannot root for these two to work it out and be a couple. Hime is so immature at times she feels like the teenager, and she is totally not ready to date anyone, much less a high school student. Momota is earnest and nice and also pretty damn boring. There is an excruciating scene where she invites him to spend the night to play games and they both end up thinking that it’s actually for sex. It’s meant to be funny and adorable, and instead I wanted to punch the book. It tries to sell its premise, and fails badly.
This has 6+ volumes in Japan, so clearly I am not its intended audience. If you’re a teenage boy, I think you might like this, though please try not to emulate it in real life. For everyone else, though, you can actually judge this book by its title and cover.