With the arrival of Rascal Does Not Dream of Siscon Idol, we’re now four volumes into the series and getting closer to new content not covered by the anime. But for now, let’s find out what crazy situation our cast are going to be wrapped up in in this instalment.
We reunite with Sakuta as he’s finally getting the chance to spend some time with his girlfriend Mai. However, life is never that simple for our protagonist and when he goes to visit her, he meets Nodoka Toyohama, an up-and-coming idol who is also Mai’s half-sister. To complicate matters further, Sakuta learns that Mai and Nodoka have swapped bodies and have no idea what caused this or how to swap back!
Sakuta’s dreams of going on a date are put aside for now while the girls work out what to do. They’re by no means strangers to each other, but Sakuta can tell that the relationship is strained. In the end, Mai and Nodoka agree to live their respective lives to the best of their abilities, hoping no one finds out something supernatural has happened. Mai tells Sakuta to keep an eye on Nodoka as perhaps he can figure out what triggered this whole thing…
Right from the beginning, it’s clear to both Sakuta and us readers that Mai and Nodoka have a strained relationship. When the two were kids, Nodoka idolised Mai and wanted to follow in her footsteps and work in showbusiness but as they’ve grown older Nodoka has struggled with the pressures put on her. This is especially true of Nodoka’s mum, who pushes her to be more like Mai and this, in turn, has made Nodoka somewhat resentful of her sister. Perhaps these feelings are part of why the two have swapped places and that’s what Sakuta begins to explore.
I admit that when I watched the Rascal Does Not Dream of anime, this arc was one of my least favourites. I like Mai as a character well enough, but compared to the previous story about Rio, I struggled to care about Nodoka’s struggles. The problem is that while Mai is a central part of this story, Nodoka is the one we spend the most time with and I thought she was somewhat bratty and irritating. Having said that, reading the light novel has changed my feelings.
While I’m still not overly fond of Nodoka, I think the pacing of the book compared to the anime helped me warm to her slowly, the same way that our protagonist does. Her inner turmoil is also better explored here and it’s easier to understand her feelings toward Mai. Honestly, author Hajime Kamoshida is just really good at writing emotionally charged stories like these and nails the pacing for the twists and turns. The previous book (Logical Witch) hit harder emotionally for me, but this one is sure to be just as captivating for readers – especially if you’ve ever felt jealous of an older sibling.
Even if you find yourself struggling to engage with the story of the sisters, some notable milestones are woven into this plot for Sakuta’s younger sister, Kaede. It’s now approaching two years since she stopped going to school and became a shut-in who’s even reluctant to interact with Sakuta’s friends (Mai being a notable exception) and that is bothering her. Kaede is the focus of the next book, so this will be explored more there, but it’s nice to see some development in Siscon Idol to lead into it.
Rascal Does Not Dream of Siscon Idol comes to the West thanks to Yen Press and continues to be translated by Andrew Cunningham. The translation reads well with no issues to note. Volume 5 of the series Rascal Does Not Dream of a Sister Home Alone is out now, with Volume 6 being released in November.
Overall, Rascal Does Not Dream of Siscon Idol offers another interesting and emotional tale. While the new character Nodoka might not appeal to everyone, I think her story is relatable enough to more than make up for her somewhat immature personality.