Three years ago on this blog, I published my early impressions of Ookumo-chan Flashback, a manga about a teenage boy and his extremely hot mom. This past June, the series finally concluded, and so I can, at last, give my final verdict and thoughts about this strange and racy title. Note: ENDING SPOILERS BELOW
Ookumo-chan Flashback by Riichi Ueshiba (Mysterious Girlfriend X, Discommunication) revolves around Minoru Suzuki, who for some reason is able to occasionally see back in time from the perspective of his late father. Every time he has one of these “flashbacks,” he sees his mother, Aya (maiden name Ookumo), during her high school years when she was dating his dad. The result: Minoru starts to see her in a different and possibly forbidden light, and the big question is how far the series will go with its incest angle.
The Big Twist
In my first review, I expressed a bit of hesitation: “It could be thrilling, perhaps even exhilarating, but I’m going to have my life vest ready at all times—I never know when I’ll need to abandon ship.” Well, despite it getting rather dangerous at times, I ultimately stuck with Ookumo-chan Flashback all the way through. Shock of all shocks—it’s actually a non-incest ending!
In defiance of popular trends and what seemed to be the very purpose of the manga itself, Minoru develops feelings for one of his classmates, Hajime Ninomae, and ends up falling out of love with Aya. Which is to say, he still was attracted to his mom, but it wasn’t forever. All’s well that ends well…?
(As an aside, I want to point out that Hajime’s full name is written in Japanese as 一一, or “One One.” That’s because Hajime means “first” and Ninomae means “before two.” Is it the most amazing name in manga history? Maybe.)
The Origin (?) of the Flashbacks
In the final chapter, we learn that Minoru received a special protective charm in kindergarten from his dad. In it, there was a photo of Aya from her high school graduation. His dad tells a young Minoru that if there’s anything he wants to convey to his son, it’s how cute Aya is, and how he wants Minoru to someday find someone who makes him feel the same way.
Speculating on the Truth
Though it was never said outright, I suspect that the spirit of Minoru’s father was trying to somehow communicate to his son what it’s like to fall in love, so that Minoru would know what to look for in the future. Only, it had the side effect of having Minoru experience an almost firsthand attraction to Aya, accidentally complicating matters. I guess ghost dad’s feelings were a little too strong, there. It’s also notable that Hajime herself is quite different from Aya in a lot of ways both physically and personality-wise, so it’s not like Minoru winds up dating a clone of his mom, or that Hajime is somehow a “substitute.”
I don’t know for sure if Ookumo-chan Flashback is meant to be one giant swerve and counterpoint to the ubiquity of works that fetishize highly fictionalized incest fantasies, but I can’t help seeing it in any other light. The OreImos of the world tend to stand over the precipice volume after volume, eventually falling into the void below. The fact that Ookumo-chan Flashback managed to not only pull back in the end but also lay out a sensible story is worthy of some praise, if only because I bet at least some fans are disappointed by how it turned out. For me, it’s an impressive move, and I look forward to what Ueshiba has in store next.
The sixth and final volume comes out in Japan on August 21st.
PS: The OreImo series is now publishing alternate endings where the main character did not end up with his sister. Perhaps the move away from incest in otaku media has truly begun.
All images are taken from the August 2020 issue of Monthly Afternoon, released June 25th, 2020.