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Are You Okay With a (Slightly) Older Girlfriend? (Vol. 1)
Are You Okay With a (Slightly) Older Girlfriend? (Vol. 1)

Are You Okay With a (Slightly) Older Girlfriend? (Vol. 1)

Written by C. C. Cooper on 25 Mar 2021


Distributor J-Novel Club • Author/Artist Kota Nozomi/Nanasemeruchi • Price £5.11


The fairytale concept of love at first sight never made sense to Kaoru Momota. It makes no sense that a man could look at a woman and a woman could look at a man and both realize they've found their SO. That is until he finds himself living such a fairy tale when he saves Hime Orihara from a molester and falls head over heels for her. He pursues his happily ever after with her, but there's just one minor speed bump keeping him from his happy ending: Orihara might've been donning a high school girl's uniform when they met, but she's actually a full-blown adult in the workforce.

A note I should mention about Are You Okay With a (Slightly) Older Girlfriend? is that the title's misleading. Momota's 15, and that (Slightly) suggests that Orihara would be 17 or 18. She's 27. “She's almost twice his age! That's not 'slightly' older at all!” I exclaimed upon realizing the actual discrepancy. If you're going to put an adverb in parenthesis for emphasis, at least make it one that's accurate.

Beyond the bait-and-switch of the title, a major difference in age between lovers is a concept I find fascinating. As a society, we tend to furrow our brows on couples where there's a discernible age gap, but if it's consensual between the two parties, does that make the relationship okay? Questions like this was what I was hoping to get out of this series, like a sanitized version of Goodnight Punpun chapters 33-38, but just like many hopes in this world, mine were left to freeze overnight before being shattered with a sledgehammer in the morning.

To be fair, Are You Okay With a (Noticeably) Older Girlfriend? does acknowledge the social stigma attached to a minor-adult romance, but not much more than some light opposition from the lovers' friends and the recognition “People will frown at us.” I'm not asking Momota to lock himself in a shed for 39 pages like Koyomi Araragi, but I would expect some level of introspection and assessment before chasing after something so risky.

This is where Are You Okay With a (Greatly) Older Girlfriend?'s seams unravel. Beyond the occasional reminder that Orihara's pushing thirty and Momota's pushing past thirty on his next exam, their relationship plays out like they're both clueless fifteen-year-olds. Orihara's completely inexperienced with love and spends her off-time playing games and reading manga. Not to suggest that a grown woman can't be a hopeless virgin whose primary afternoon concern is finding all the Korak Seeds in Breath of the Wild, but Orihara operates on the same wavelength as a teenager common in other light novels, like this series was either afraid of alienating readers with a grown woman who periodically gets in a huff because she remembered rent's due next Monday, or that it hasn't a clue as to how a grown woman thinks and behaves.

Because Are You Okay With a (Vastly) Older Girlfriend? shies away from making Orihara into an adult with adult experiences, it misses out on fully capturing the distinction between adult and teenager. For instance, if Orihara had gone perusing the romantic department before meeting Momota, there'd be a clash between what she expects in a partner and what Momota offers her, even doing his best. First date kisses at the perfect moment might be what she's used to or come to expect, and when Momota's nervousness fumbles that perfect moment or he just doesn't know how to spot it, it'd be off-putting to her. Dates won't be the same fun, and she might have to take up the leader role, which she's not used to or might not prefer. And if you keep her as she is, she might wonder if her fondness for Momota really is love since, after spending so many years single and celibate, she might ponder what it even feels like to like someone else.

From time to time, Are You Okay With a (Seriously) Older Girlfriend? does flirt with some issue unique to their relationship, but it gets distracted by another passerby before it can make any sort of commitment. Despite its title about dates with enormously older women, the book opens up with a critique on love at first sight in fairy tales. This exact monologue could've been ripped from this story and inserted into pretty much any romance and fit just as snuggly, so it's a wonder why this series bothered with some random theme when it already had one lined up prim and proper.

But maybe it's necessary that this series use love at first sight as a launchpad for their relationship because there isn't much else to define their attraction to one another. It's fine for fondness to begin with a single hobby, shared trait, chance meeting, etc., but Orihara and Momota act like they're destined soulmates with how deeply, affectionately, and frequently they proclaim love for one another, when they've only been going out for two weeks and only started going out because of misattribution of arousal.

I do wonder if at some point Orihara won't grow bored of Momota because she's the only interesting one in their relationship. The difference is right there in their narration style, too. While Momota's prose is a reflection of his blandness, Orihara adds the occasional burst of personality when the pen passes to her. The contrast isn't a mad explosion, but it's endearing when she encourages him to spend the night at her place playing Kirby Super Star, realizes that she basically invited him over for sex, and then blames the game for being a masterpiece.

Another tidbit about Orihara that's sorta interesting is her foil in her friend, whose husband is twelve years her senior. But whether the interest level of this tidbit gets promoted or demoted depends on how or if future volumes do anything with this parallel or if the series made it up in a vain play at cleverness.

A topic I can't believe I have to dedicate an entire paragraph to is Orihara's breasts. Explained in layman's terms, they're massive. Gargantuan. Nothing wrong with a lady with enormous titties that do the jiggle and the bounce and mimic a Newton's cradle when her lover slaps them as he takes her from behind. But her tits are swollen to a size you'd expect from a hentai, so it's hard to take her scenes of earnest crying to heart when it's accompanied by this image:

 

Like, what is she, a sex doll that became a real girl?

Are You Okay With a (Tremendously) Older Girlfriend has some apt ideas and genuine troubles a clueless couple might go through, but it can't focus on any one thing to save its life, and it barely reads that differently from a generic love tale. It's got its charming bits, and potential is gestating in here, but the lot of it is squandered, trying to blast through the stages from “boy meets girl” to “happily ever after,” with no mind for picking and sticking with a theme. I'll give it credit for having the guts to explore a taboo subject, but it keeps things too safe to make any substantial commentary. It tells a fib with its title, so I suppose it's only natural that it misguides the reader with its subject matter.

5
Are you okay with a (considerably) mediocre read?

C. C. Cooper
About C. C. Cooper

A connoisseur of the finer stories life has to bring, little more engrosses the individual known as C3 than a work of art which knocks their socks off.


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