If someone says one more thing about a youthful indiscretion I am going to lose my fucking mind.
When it comes to anime as a whole I often find myself enjoying stupid romantic comedies more than anything else. I’m not sure why my brain is wired in such a way but when it comes to series like Domestic Girlfriend, Quintuplets, or the GOAT Bokuben I become enthralled. Considering I suffered through the train wreck that was Girlfriend Girlfriend it was only a matter of time before I found myself neck deep in the Summer 2022 mess My Stepmom’s Daughter Is My Ex. Even with that self-explanatory title allow me to break down the synopsis for you.
Middle schooler Irido, Mizuto is a bit of, let me think how to put this. An apathetic nerd. Sure he has friends, he does well enough with groups and he by all accounts is intelligent and handsome. But Mizuto would much rather read, alone, away from others. Making the most out of his last year in middle school he stumbles into a discreet but charming girl in the library one day, using the opportunity to strike up a conversation about some of his favorite novels. Much to his delight, the two hit it off and eventually become a couple. This girl’s name is Yume.
What follows is a year of hot and cold romance as the two figure out themselves and each other. Yume, shy and awkward start to blossom, becomes bold in her school life, and ultimately decides that once she enters high school, she will no longer be the meek nervous girl. Among other things, this creates a rift between the young couple, and as the final year of their middle school life comes to a close it is decided. Yume and Mizuto will break up, calling the relationship nothing more than a youthful indiscretion (whatever)
Then Mizuto’s dad marries a new woman and his ex Yume is now his step-sister.
Immediately bringing back up the toxic tension the two of them are tasked with playing along for their parent’s happiness, deciding to play the part of siblings the best they can. They fail tremendously because they still definitely have a thing for each other. To determine who at any given moment is the older sibling they come up with a system that works simply enough. Whoever acts outside the normal of siblings will be the younger, creating a bit of a check to their more romantic desire.
Which gets thrown out the window immediately as they both just get used to swapping onee and onii.
My Stepmom’s Daughter Is My Ex starts out and often plays like any other romcom of the same vein. The two bicker, constantly, picking fights over petty things and generally just being a brat to one another. That is of course assuming they aren’t going on dates or being so infatuated with one another that it’s almost like they never broke up in the first place. They have a small group of friends that form throughout the show but only two really stand out. Mizuto befriends another girl named Higashira, Isana who also has the hots for him. That after being turned down becomes WAY too comfortable around him. Yume on the other hand catches the attention of Minami, Akatsuki. An overly cracked classmate who, as it turns out, becomes quite obsessive with her friends.
There is also this other guy who is Minami’s neighbor named Kawanami, Kogure who proclaimed himself as the best bud of Mizuto only the promptly fuck off for like 5 episodes.
It is within this muddle we get the normal bits, jabs, and general communication that make up this genre. We get a glimpse into each of the main duo’s back story, why the way they are, and what exactly happened to make them break up months ago.
Spoiler it was because they were co-dependent on one another.
All of this occurs at a steady but lackluster pace until the season nears its end. What really surprised me about this series was how Yume in the closing 2-3 episodes really grew the fuck up. Even more shocking it occurring not just in reflection of their relationship but her own goals. Such development is often lacking when it comes to these series, mostly because any ground actually being covered means the end is closer. Romcoms and harems alike all have the same general destination, a couple forms. Of course, there are some fun spinoffs like Tagia-san of them being adults with a daughter of their own but usually, the end is well a forming of a couple. My Stepmom’s Daughter Is My Ex ended on a shocking note in that respect, Mizuto throughout the series is the main anchor, being the smart guy, the one with his emotions under control while Yume was the mess until the end. It wasn’t so much greater than as much as an equal footing, Yume knew her worth, knew what she could do for her and Mizuto, and declared rather spectacularly that their budding romance was far from dead.
I rather enjoyed the series as a whole, found many chances to laugh, and even though it did get quite annoying with the flashbacks and some of the commentary I can say it was well worth my time but that’s about it. No matter how you shake it or impressed I was by Yume’s sudden shift the 12 episodes end up in a column of mediocre. The show tells you what it is right away and never really leaves its lane, hell even their new awkward relationship isn’t even mentioned as their ‘parents’ often comment on how well they get along or how they bicker like a married couple. Their friends pretty much see through their antics right away and everyone seems content with letting the two of them figure it out. I think there will always be a place for series like that and I have gotten curious about how much the actual light novel develops. One of the biggest setbacks when it comes to anime adaption even more so in one season is the sheer limit we get to experience these characters. At best over 12 episodes we are getting 4 hours overall which is a lot of nothing.
If you are into a rather cheap but often charming romcom about two fairly annoying bratty chaps then My Stepmom’s Daughter Is My Ex might be worth the time, I for one do not regret it. I am currently working on an Akane-banashi article as well as some other book projects. As always thanks for the read!