Middle-school student Sakura thinks she’ll be all alone now that the grandmother who raised her is dead, but she comes home one day and discovers four young men in her home. A letter from her grandmother tells her that they are her long lost half-brothers, the sons of her father’s first wife. Now she has four crazy men to hover over her, worry about her, and take care of her, but only if she lets them!
The first two-thirds of Tokeino’s manga is a sweet, if slightly chaotic, story about a unique family coming back together after a long time apart. Sakura and her brothers are nice characters, though they’re not fleshed out much past caricatures. There’s the grumpy brother with a heart of gold, the pretty boy brother who tends to cross-dress, the strong silent brother who has gentle hobbies, the brother who wears glasses and speaks formally. Sakura is also simply drawn, but the scenes where she is making an effort to reconnect with her long-lost siblings are realistic and endearing. Unfortunately, the plot is fairly thin beyond the “reconnecting with family” story, but it is enjoyable nonetheless.
The story that comprises the final third of this volume is not quite as interesting, but still readable. An odd variation on the “It’s a Wonderful Life” plot, it is about a 16-year-old girl who is in love with her childhood friend. She’s positive that things would be different between them if she were the boy and he were the girl, so when a miniature Santa Claus offers her the chance to see if she’s right, she takes it. The premise is unique, but the story never manages to move into greatness.
Tokeino’s art is fairly standard shojo. The boys are pretty, if androgynous, but they are all distinct from one another. Sakura seems to vary the most. Sometimes she looks like a fourteen-year-old, but other times she seems more likely to be in elementary school. The panels are crowded with movement, untranslated sound effects, side comments, and sparkly backgrounds, occasionally making the action hard to follow.
Though not a first choice, this title is a nice addition to the growing line of shojo family stories and is a good possibility for those looking for a less angsty read after Fruits Basket, Aishiteruze Baby, and Crossroad.