I love the manga Mysterious Girlfriend X, but I’m never entirely sure what to expect from its author Riichi Ueshiba. His works are cute yet perverse, comforting yet disturbing. They can either warm the heart or make you want to scrub your body down with soap, or both. So, when the magazine Monthly Afternoon recently announced that a new series by Ueshiba was on the way, I felt both dread and anticipation. How would this one turn out?
Ookumo-chan Flashback is definitely not for everyone. Heck, I’m not even sure it’s for me. I feel both attracted and repelled by its contents. That’s why I’m writing about this work—I want to prepare potential readers so that those who are potentially enticed by this new manga can search for it and understand it, and those who would never touch it in a million years are forewarned.
Take note, as there are going to be spoilers ahead.
Minoru Suzuki is a high school boy who, every so often, seems to have visions of another time. When in this state, he’s always with a girl named Ookumo, and Minoru always experiences interactions with her firsthand. It’s quickly revealed that the girl is actually Minoru’s mom (Ookumo is her maiden name) and that Minoru’s actually peering into the past through the eyes of his departed father.
The big twist is that, because Minoru is directly experiencing his father falling in love, Minoru finds himself in love with his own mother. This reveal closes the first chapter, and we, the readers, are left to wonder whether anything will ever happen. Will it actually end in mother-son incest? Is this merely a phase for Minoru? With an artist and creator like Riichi Ueshiba, it is legitimately difficult to tell. Mysterious Girlfriend X looked as if it would veer off into adultery on more than one occasion, but it stuck to its monogamous relationship pretty strongly.
So, is it more taboo or less to want to have sex with your own mom, compared to the daily exchanges of saliva and an increasing laundry list of fetishes as per Mysterious Girlfriend X? That’s pretty much something that each reader needs to decide individually, and why I can’t quite put a stamp of approval or denial on the series. It’s just too unpredictable at the moment.
(As an aside, the mother works as a professional manga artist. Her series? Unidentified Girlfriend X, about a girl who uses a "panty wrench" instead of the panty scissors found in Mysterious Girlfriend X.)
There are some interesting facets to Minoru’s conflicted emotions. There’s a hypothesis that argues that people are attracted to those similar to themselves, and that those who are genetically related to each other are naturally more attracted to each other. What stops people from typically sleeping with their siblings or relatives is another hypothesis, called the Westermarck effect, which inhibits sexual attraction between those who live together early on in life. Ookumo-chan Flashback implies that Minoru’s attraction to his own mom comes at least in part from the fact that he’s seeing and perhaps feeling what his own father experienced, almost viewing his mother as if she were someone else entirely. Are these flashbacks undoing the Westermarck effect on Minoru?
It’s uncertain if Ookumo-chan Flashback is actually going to explore those ideas or if it’s going to focus more on the titillation of the forbidden. The series is pretty rife with fanservice, drawing a lot of attention to the mom’s butt, whether in jeans as an adult or in gym bloomers in high school flashbacks. The image above is actually from the very first page. Mysterious Girlfriend X actually had relatively little emphasis on its characters' rears, so perhaps this is meant to differentiate this series further.
The characters are also drawn with round, youthful appearances regardless of age and gender. Incidentally, the series is Ookumo-chan Flashback, and the very first thing we see in this manga is a focus on her rear end. Is the title a pun on “Ookumo flashing her back?”
The verdict is still out for me on Ookumo-chan Flashback, but I’m going to keep following the series to see where it goes. 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.