Sunday, October 10, 2010
Ebisu-san to Hotei-san, which fits the "hate ---> respect/like ---> love" romantic comedy pattern to a T, isn't mindblowing, but it's an okay, good-natured re-tread of well-worn territory.
Hotei works at the backwater branch of a large, famous company. A new worker transfers in from the main office, the über-cool, competent Ebisu Mayo (who Hotei secretly nicknames "Ebi Mayo", or "Shrimp Mayo") who does her work more efficiently than anybody else but never works overtime, prompting the women at the office to act like bratty, bullying middle school kids. (Dumping coffee on her work when she's at a meeting, telling her that another meeting is scheduled a week later than it actually is, ignoring her at lunch, etc.) One day Ebisu follows Mayo and sees her picking up her niece Hana from daycare. She suddenly feels bad about being such a jackass and starts helping Ebisu take care of Hana. Of course, the little munchkin brings them closer together and Hotei eventually realizes that she loves her Shrimp Mayo. Hana's deadbeat mother (Ebisu's older sister) comes back and we learn the utterly stupid reason why she seduced all of Ebisu's past boyfriends, which is what first caused the rift between them.
Hotei more or less repairs their relationship and realizes that Ebisu returns her feelings when Ebisu asks her to ignore her sister if she comes onto Hotei. Hotei asks if she can move in with Ebisu and Ebisu agrees. Frustratingly, Ebisu and Hotei don't actually say "I love you" or anything to that effect. In a bonus chapter taking place a few years later, Hana invites a classmate to her home and explains that she has three moms- her mother, her aunt, and her aunt's "friend." This ending reminded me of something in real life- I have an older, closeted relative (who doesn't know that I know that she's closeted...I think) who lived with another woman for a long time before that woman died (when I was a kid), without anyone in the family acknowledging her as more than my relative's "friend." The "my aunt and her friend" bit reminded me of that, which gave it kind of a depressing tinge for me. (I know, not the series' fault, but there you go.) The joke at the end about Hana and her aunt liking similar types of people was cute, anyway.
The manga's afterword reveals that much of the ambiguity in this series can be attributed to Kizuki Akira and Satou Nanki receiving advice from a crappy editor on what a good yuri story should be like. If I were their editor, my Yuri 101 tutorial for them would be "It's romance between two women or girls," and I would give them a short list of recommended yuri mangaka/titles to check out.
Ebisu-san to Hotei-san has some cute moments, but there are meatier titles out there covering similar ground.