If My Wife Becomes an Elementary School Student Review: Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover!

If My Wife Becomes an Elementary School Student Review: Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover!

The title “If My Wife Becomes an Elementary School Student” is certainly eye-catching, and kinda concerning too from a surface level. Hence, it’s no wonder when the trailer for the anime was first revealed, TikTokers and X’s Blue Tick engagement farmers were quick to jump in to call out the series and its author for the “inappropriate” plot.

However, is that really the case? After reading all the 111 chapters of the manga, I can confidently say that social media can’t be more incorrect than this. Welcome to my short review of If My Wife Becomes an Elementary School Student Review, also known as Tsuma, Shougakusei ni Naru(妻、小学生になる。) in Japan.

Disclaimer: Only contains mild spoilers for first few chapters of the manga to help you familiarize better with the series and themes.

Plot summary and characters

Characters in If My Wife Becomes an Elementary School Student
Main characters of If My Wife Becomes an Elementary School Student. (Image credits: Weekly Manga Times)

Keisuke is a man who’s still grieving the loss of his wife, Takae, for the last 10 years. Suddenly, his world turns upside down when a little elementary school girl appears claiming to be his deceased wife. This young girl possesses all of Takae’s memories and personality and forces Keisuke and their daughter, Mai, to move on with their lives.

So the story revolves around five major characters in the story:

  1. Takae Niijima/Marika Shiraishi: Marika is a young elementary school student who lives with her mother Chika Shiraishi, until one day, she recalls her memories as Takae Niijima.
  2. Keisuke Niijima: Keisuke is the husband of Takae and father of Mai. After the death of his wife, he finds himself stuck in time and lives a depressed life.
  3. Mai Niijima: Daughter of Keisuke and Takae who is struggling with stagnancy and existential crisis.
  4. Chika Shiraishi: Mother of Marika who takes care of Marika as a single mother.
  5. Moriya Konomi: Coworker of Keisuke who shows curiosity and interest in him.

If My Wife Becomes an Elementary School Student review

Keisuke and Mai Niijimia in If My Wife Becomes an Elementary School Student
Mai and Keisuke Takae in chapter one (Image credits: Weekly Manga Times)

If My Wife Becomes an Elementary School Student anime adaptation is scheduled for October 2024. There is also a Tsuma Shougakusei ni Naru live-action drama that is very well made, however, it deviates a bit from the manga. My review will stay mostly spoiler-free with a focus on the initial chapters of the manga to help you decide whether this story deserves your attention.

The first chapter opens up with an introduction to Keisuke and Mai who are living a pretty stagnant life after the loss of Takae. Then suddenly, the doorbell rings, and a little girl who claims herself to be Takae Niijima enters the Niijima household. The father and daughter quickly realize that she is indeed very much like Takae who they lost ten years ago.

Yayu Murata, the series author, is aware of the absurdity of the plot he’s setting up and takes sufficient care that the series never goes off from the message he’s trying to convey. So while you will see a joke here and there thrown about the age gap in the first few chapters, he never attempts to fetishize or romanticize the situation between the two in a weird way.

Keisuke and Takae in If My Wife Becomes an Elementary School Student
Keisuke and Takae’s dynamic always feels like they’ve known each other since forever (Image credits: Weekly Manga Times)

Speaking of the relationship between the couple, Keisuke and Takae’s moments are really well executed. It’s full of mature conversations about the fragility of life, grief, and moving on. Takae understands her situation and constantly tries to help her husband move on for the sake of Mai. However, Keisuke never moved on, and having her back is more than enough for Keisuke.

As a result, Keisuke often comes out as an ignorant person who is simply so overjoyed from having his wife back that he fails to understand the consequences of having a relationship with a little girl. There’s a particular scene of Keisuke and Takae signing a marriage certificate that did raise an eyebrow when I first read it, however, Yayu uses the marriage certificate brilliantly towards the later half of the series to deliver one of the series’ most dramatic moments.

Now let’s talk about the other side of the story, the life of Takae Niijima as Marika Shiraishi. So before becoming Takae, Marika was a usual elementary school student living a pretty regular life for a ten-year-old. She lives in an abusive household with her mother, Chika Shiraishi, who constantly yells and calls her out for reaching home late or for not doing her chores.

Chika and Marika in If My Wife Becomes an Elementary School Student
Chika Shiraishi is Marika’s mother who lives alone after her husband leaves her. (Image credits: Weekly Manga Times)

The initial impression of Chika is like a very stereotypically abusive mother who takes out her dissatisfaction with work and people on her daughter. Her behavior acts as a catalyst for the plot as Takae begins to seek out the warmth from the Niijima family which she severely lacks as Marika. These scenes give a pretty solid insight into our real-world situations of children living in an abusive household and solidify one of the core messages of the story: The importance of a caring family.

A brief overview of what to expect from “If My Wife Becomes an Elementary School Student” as a whole

Takae, Mai and Keisuke in If My Wife Becomes an Elementary School Student also known as Tsuma Shougakusei ni Naru
Tsuma Shougakusei ni Naru is a bittersweet tale about life (Image credits: Weekly Manga Times)

Without delving into too many spoilers for the later chapters, I’d close the review here with a few parting words about the series as a whole: There are many light-hearted, adorable, and uplifting moments that are balanced by some not-so-happy moments. Thus, the series never feels too melodramatic or tragic, instead, we get a bittersweet tale that, for lack of a better word, is human.

Family, human relationships, and love are reasons why I hold this series in such high regard. Tsumasho (another nickname for the series) delivers the realities of life and tells a very human story of grief, love, loss, growth, and life. The series is very upfront with its message that life is full of ups and downs but it is also worth living. Thanks for reading my If my wife becomes an elementary school student review!

By the way, if you’re looking for adult romance then my Top 10 Adult Romance Manga list is for you. 😀

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