Lovefool 12.02.13 | Hello, December!

It’s December, nerdlings, and Lovefool is getting into the holiday spirit with the adventures of Kurumi, a teen girl who just found out she’s a "Santa" teamed with a magical reindeer in the form of cute boy named Kaito, in Sakura Tsukuba’s new Christmas crazy manga Sweet Rein.


It’s so weird that Thanksgiving is so late this year. Mr. J and I ended up spending it solo due to various factors and it was a good day. We ate things, we drank things, we watched Adventure Time for, like, eight hours or something ridiculous and I enjoyed myself. Friday rolled around and Mr. J returned to work while I flailed around my house not buying anything. I’d like to say it was because of some noble social thing, like the whole Buy Nothing Day that Bill Murray was on about, but it was mostly because I get all eeked out in crowds of crazy people. Unfortunately, when I opened my computer to start shopping for my nearest and dearest, I got all panicked and froze, much like I probably would’ve done in a crowd of crazy people shouting about televisions. I mean, I like television as much as the next girl (seriously, eight hours of Adventure Time) but, dude, chill.
Fortunately, I managed to get most of our purchasing for people at Points Abroad done yesterday, somehow, but just how far along we are in the holiday season didn’t really hit me until last night. We were watching Captain America and I was peeking at Facebook, as one does. And my friend, Dann, who is British and therefore living in the future, had posted something about it being December and the holidays and was basically brimming with festive cheer. And then I got up this morning to my feeds blowing up with pictures of my friends, here and abroad, decorating their houses in tinsel and lights and trees. The rest of the world doesn’t do the Thanksgiving thing so that couldn’t have been the trigger and then it sank in for reals…
Holy cats, nerdlings, it’s December. Already. Today, as I write this, it’s December first. As you read it, it’s December second. How did that happen? And is it weird that I’m actually excited, too, this year? The decorations are going up this evening and we’re going to listen to some holiday tunes and generally be merry and bright. My family is coming over to Chateau Jameson for the big day itself and we’re going to eat foods and drink drinks and exchange presents and generally act like we like each other. It’s going to be stress-free, despite my mother’s best efforts already, and fun. We’ve spent the last few years running solo for Christmas but I’m ready—and excited—to be with family for the holiday.
In fact, for some reason, I can’t imagine being without a crowd this year. So I felt bad for Kurumi Sagara, the student star of the first volume of VIZ Media’s well timed Sweet Rein, when she was told her only relative had to work over the holidays. I’ve never spent a Christmas truly alone but I imagine it’s pretty trying, and Kurumi seemed accepting but sad about the news. Fortunately, she gets a reprieve from her lonely holiday when she physically bumps into a dude named Kaito, who is a magical reindeer who immediately binds himself to her with an invisible-to-the masses ribbon tied around her wrist. We’ll revisit that in a second. While Kurumi gawps, Kaito tells her that she’s a Santa, which is an apparently franchised position in creator Sakura Tsukuba’s world. I liked that bit. Santas, teamed with magical reindeer, who cover a certain area. Kaito’s family, mostly also reindeer, have an heirloom sled and a bag that Kurumi is able to reach into to retrieve presents for deserving kids just waiting to fly out into the night sky. It’s a cute concept.
Far less cute is this whole bondage thing. To be fair, it’s not unbreakable, the ribbon. The bondage can be broken with a kiss, apparently from either party, as indicated when Kurumi ends up unconscious but Kaito is able to act independently. He just doesn’t want to, having been raised on the idea of a Santa/reindeer relationship and happy to have found his in a cute girl that he’s immediately smitten with. But Kaito’s body is Kurumi’s to command, which is almost a direct quote. She says "raise your hand" and he has to raise it. She says "come here" and he appears. He’s normally delighted to do so but…it still smacks as slightly off to me. I guess Kaito seems happy with it and Kurumi is a benevolent Santa getting to know her reindeer and everyone’s cool with it, though. In fact, interestingly, Kurumi kicks up the most fuss about it, wondering why Kaito is so okay with a potential life of servitude. Also interestingly, she later ruminates on their power dynamic and comes to the conclusion that he unwittingly shows a pretty fair amount of control over her.
Less philosophically and more adorably, she gets close enough to him and his family that they even go on holiday together during the summer. So it would seem that their relationship, whatever it is, is a year-round thing, much to the dismay of his grandfather’s ghost. (Go ahead, read that last sentence again. I’ll wait.) Still. Free will, y’all—I’m a fan.
The art is fun, though, all screens and cute holiday motifs and cuteness. The initial squickness of the captivity inherent in the relationship is tempered by the wild delight in it displayed by Kaito and the cautious acceptance of the concept of not being alone Kurumi feels. Kurumi, handily, is also fairly into Kaito but a little quieter about it. She takes her Santa duties very seriously, even producing a summer miracle, and Kaito’s family is thrilled to help her along. If you’re able to get past the whole ribbon thing, this is a fun holiday romp, complete with young romance and festive holiday appeal. The Christmas joy remains part of the story even during the summer scenes, which is no small feat.
We here at Lovefool, Inc, will be decking some halls this weekend ourselves and find ourselves more festive than not after reading this so, if you’re open-minded, you should definitely give Sweet Rein a look. I’ll be interested to see where this one goes in the future. | Erin Jameson

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