By Tsunehiro Date
Nanoka Satsuki is literally Himouto Umaru-chan. In public she presents herself as a beautiful, graceful idol while at home she’s a slovenly loaf. Much like Daichi, she’s struggling to reconcile her interests as an otaku with her public image. When contrasting these characters it only highlights just how weightless Daichi’s problem is, because unlike him, she has far more reason to hide her true nature. She not only has to keep up appearances to maintain her career, but she’s pressured to live up to her mother’s expectations, which she values as “the most important thing in the world.” Her career as an actress, which by necessity forces her to act like other people, is at odds with her desire to be herself. Unlike Daichi, her loneliness isn’t self-induced, but influenced by social circumstances outside of her control.
Satsuki is a dramatically more endearing character than Daichi. The scene where she justifies the calories she consumes eating snack food, by calculating how much time she’d need to spend at the gym, is perhaps the first genuinely funny moment in the series so far. The connection she forms with Daichi over social media, him being the only person she can be herself around, feels genuine. It presents a positive message about how social media friendships can provide refuge for people who aren’t able to form connections offline because of extenuating circumstances. Elements of Satsuki’s character feel tired, as idols/honor students who are secretly otaku aren’t that uncommon an archetype (again, Umaru-chan). Still, Satsuki’s characterization is likable and feels grounded in believable circumstances, and If the series was about her then it’d probably be one of the more interesting rom-coms in Jump’s history.
It’s too bad the the chapter reinforces that it’s not about her right from the start. Daichi continues to be insufferable, insulting girls on social media for not respecting him as “a real man,” while simultaneously creeping on them for giving him a “great view,” of their panties. When his childhood friend does treat him like a man and calls him out on his perversion, he badmouths her. It’d be one thing if Daichi owned his perversion, but in both situations he shifts the blame on someone else. That those people happen to be women adds an uncomfortable misogynistic subtext to his character. While this sequence was only meant to be a short bit of humor and fanservice, all it did was emphasize the hypocrisy of Daichi’s motivations. Daichi doesn’t seem to really want to be treated “as a man,” if it entails any sort of consequences. He feels entitled not only to his voyeurism, but believes he’s right to look down on others who don’t “respect” him as well. He’s such a disgustingly self-righteous and downright gross human being, yet he’s presented like he’s supposed to be an endearing, likable if hapless shonen rom-com protagonist like all the rest. The difference is that the likes of Raku Ichigo and Nariyuki Yuiga are actually good people, and Daichi is a self-centered egotist.
Satsuki is a legitimately good character of whom there’s little to criticize outside of feeling reminiscent of similar characters. Unfortunately, she isn’t quite enough to balance out the putrid piss-stain of a protagonist that is Daichi. That makes this chapter rather hard to rate, because while Satsuki’s bits were enjoyable, remembering that Daichi is supposed to the person that she finds comradery with makes me shiver in disgust. If the series challenges Daichi’s “nice guy” mindset or shows Satsuki becoming disillusioned after finding out what Daichi’s really like, it could still turn this concept around. However, it feels like the series is completely unaware with just how unlikable and poorly realized its male protagonist is compared to its female lead, and I can’t help but feel remiss at how much of the potential of this premise has irrevocably been lost as a consequence.