Anyone who knows me or reads my reviews can confidently say I’m a sucker for squishy, fuzzy, adorable romance. The sappier and funnier the setup, the better! When I saw that The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten (Otonari no Tenshi-sama ni Itsunomanika Dame Ningen ni Sareteita Ken) was getting an anime adaptation, I wanted to read the light novel(s) before it hit my screen — and I discovered one of my new favorite romance reads!
The first you need to know is that The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten is the very definition of a slow-burn, with characters who are utterly oblivious to their own feelings. The main character, fifteen-year-old Amane, has been living out of home since he started high-school and has so far been surviving…poorly. His class’s so-called “Angel,” a beautiful girl named Mahiru, happens to live next door to him — but Amane acknowledges Mahiru is completely out of his league.
Despite this light novel very obviously being a romance, the characters don’t engage with each other in that manner. Their friendship begins with a chance encounter in the rain, leading to Amane getting sick and being cared for by Mahiru; after discovering how slovenly his lives, Mahiru takes it upon herself to help Amane clean up his life, bringing him home-cooked meals every day.
Food plays a huge role in The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten. “Make sure you grab anyone who makes you happy by the stomach,” Mahiru says late in the volume, and that’s very true here. The entirety of this first volume is a simple slice-of-life about a young high school boy and the ‘angel’ who enters his life, giving him food and companionship.
Of course there are plenty of cute moments that are totally leading towards a relationship, but that’s absolutely not the focus for Amane. He repeatedly expresses that he thinks Mahiru is beautiful and cute, but he values her friendship more than taking a risk on a relationship. For Mahiru, she’s always been idolised and approached by every boy in the school, so she seeks shelter in having a male friend who doesn’t want to hit on her.
Ultimately this creates a wonderfully adorable story focused entirely on Amane and Mahiru, with a few interactions at school or with Amane’s friends (and crazy, controlling mother!) This is very much a slice-of-life, and that’s exactly how this novel should be. There’s nothing to fault here, although obviously it’s very focused on the “young love” aspect, but that’s to be expected of a light novel focused so intensely around young teenagers.
I love this novel so much, I ordered the next two in the series the moment I finished the first!