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Manga / House of the Sun

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"Back in the day, that place was a house filled with magic—a place where you ended up smiling even if you were crying. Surely, an invisible wizard must have lived there. Or so I thought."

House of the Sun (Japanese title: Taiyō no Ie) is a Shoujo slice-of-life manga series by Taamo. It was serialized in Dessert from 2010 to 2015.

Mao Motomiya spends most of her time with her neighbors, the Nakamura family, rather than at her own home, as her parents are constantly working for her sake and are rarely home.

When her parents get a divorce and she is conflicted about choosing between them, the eldest son of the Nakamura family, Hiro, suggests for her to live with them. Though secretly glad, Mao rejects the offer and chooses to stay with her father. In spite of moving two stations over, Mao continues to visit the Nakamura family until the death of Hiro's parents... Hiro's younger siblings Daiki and Hina are taken in by relatives in Kobe and Sendai respectively, and only Hiro remains in the Nakamura house.

Nine years pass, and Mao, now aged 17, is in high school and lives with her emotionally-distant father, her stepmother, and the latter's young daughter. She continues to check up on Hiro, who is now 24 years-old and has a job as an entry-level programmer, every now and then, but the stress of adjusting to her new family life causes Hiro to ask again if she'd like to move in with him. This time, Mao agrees.

The series won the 2014 Kodansha Award for Best Shoujo Series and is available digitally in English through Kodansha USA.

This series contains the following tropes:

  • Abusive Parents: While Mao's parents are never shown physically mistreating her, they do leave her alone for extended periods of time when she is really young and could easily get hurt. Their disregard and neglect of her is also shown as incredibly hurtful to her.
  • Age-Gap Romance: What a romantic relationship between Mao and Hiro would fall into. She is 17 and he is 23, and while they don't have a big age difference (and belong to the same generation, which amounts to ~7 years difference), he doesn't approve of the idea of a high school girl dating a working man.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: in Yuzu's case it didn't even matter if the guy in question scammed her before.
  • Alliterative Name: Mao Motomiya.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Literally the only requited love was between the Nakamura Siblings's (dead) parents.
  • Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: Mao, unless Hiro brings out her inner Tsundere. Very much the impression her classmates have of her.
  • Always Someone Better: Surprisingly, Mao towers over Daiki... at video games.
  • Awful Wedded Life: The main problem between Mao's parents is that she married her best friend impulsively On the Rebound, and not the person that she thought she loved. She eventually cheated on him on that "loved" one, and ended up abandoning her husband and daughter, spending ten years alone trying to put herself together into something resembling a person that was at least worthy of living with Mao, but she showed up too late.
  • Bad Liar: Played with. Mao is as good a liar as anyone, but she's terrible at hiding love-related stuff. Whenever she's asked, she becomes red like a tomato and stumbles upon her words. This is particularly prevalent when she's talking about Hiro.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me:
    • Mao loves Hiro because at her loneliest and most abject, he always offered her company and sought to bring her to his home so that she felt included.
    • Daiki loves Mao because she's the only person who offered him consolation when his parents died.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Hiro towards his siblings, Daiki and Hina, and Mao too.
  • Big Little Brother: Daiki is taller than Hiro.
  • Bishie Sparkle: Hiro's boss always has it on. It's even lampshaded in Chapter 48.
  • Birds of a Feather: Invoked and subverted. Hiro notices that Mao and Daiki function at very similar wavelengths, as they have very similar tastes and share the same sense of humor. However, they never become an item because Mao loves Hiro.
  • Break the Cutie: In Chapter 1, Mao breaks down in tears at the restaurant with Hiro once it dawns on her that her dad and his new family effectively don't want her home.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The author released a special chapter after the manga won the Kodansha Award, where the characters acknowledge the prize.
  • Broken Bird: Poor Mao is a mass of hurt and heartache. Hiro is a male example as well.
  • Call-Back: At the beginning of the manga, Hiro is excited and announced that his little sister returning home. The manga ends when Hina finally comes home.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Hiro spends a considerable effort calling out Mao's father due to his aloofness towards her and the way he acts towards her in a dispossessed manner as if it weren't his problem.
  • Chick Magnet: Oda is one because of his handsomeness and his ability to talk to girls, which he forged at home being a boy with six sisters.
  • Childhood Friends:
    • Hiro, Hina, Daiki and Mao. The latter two are the same age and were classmates in elementary school.
    • Mao's parents had known each other since middle school and were best friends until they started dating in college.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: between Yuzuno Hironaka and Kaito Motomiya, a.k.a Mao's parents.
  • Child of Two Worlds: Daiki considers himself fortunate of being a person with two places to call home: one, at his late parents' house, and one with his aunt's family at Kobe.
  • Contrived Coincidence:
    • What are the chances that the biggest fan of Mao's cellphone novel turned out to be in love with the same guy as her?
    • Mao's mother shows up at the moment Mao has finally formalized her return to her dad's home, and when she's about to formalize her own relationship with Hiro. Thankfully, it turns out to be more civil than what it promised to be.
  • Cool Big Sis: Oda's sister.
  • Cooldown Hug: Whenever Mao's dad makes her cry, Hiro hugs her to calm her down.
  • Covert Pervert: Chii has some off-the-wall ideas about Hiro and Mao's intimate interactions. As it turns out, it's implied that both Chii and Mao are among the only girls in their classroom that haven't done the deed, lending to why she has such a vivid imagination about the subject.
  • Cuddle Bug: Played for laughs. In spite of their Tsundere tendencies, both Mao and Hiro are very affectionate people, and they're tremendously susceptible to being given affection too.
  • The Ditz: Hina's cousin Kakao is a mess of a girl, brash, bratty and loud.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: After an encounter with her father Mao is in tears and resistant when Hiro tries to comfort her.
  • Dogged Nice Guy:
    • Oda towards Mao, Chii towards Oda, Mao and Radical/Sugimoto towards Hiiro.
    • Daiki's cousin is this towards him, and she's shown to be deeply hurt by his constant rejection of her.
  • Dude Magnet: Mao is confessed to regularly (though off camera) and once when she was younger a boy who used to bully her confessed to her.
  • Dull Eyes of Unhappiness: Hina seems to sport these. She sports these due to the fact that she thinks that she "killed" her parents by whining for a toy, which sent them on the road where they had their traffic accident.
  • Entertainingly Wrong:
    • Hiro never quite realizes that it's Mao who is writing "House of the Sun" in spite of the similarities with his daily life with Mao, and the fact that she updates the phone novel concurrently. This is due to the fact that he already has preconceptions about who the author is, albeit mistaken.
    • Daiki resents Hiro because he didn't cry during their parents' funeral. Hiro never cried precisely because he felt the need to keep it together for both Daiki and Hina's sake.
  • First Kiss: For Hiro and Mao at the end of chapter 32.
  • Foreshadowing: During the fireworks at the summer festival, Daiki catches a glimpse of Hina in the crowd and starts chasing after her while dragging Mao from her hand. Their exchange hints at the fact that Daiki likes Mao several chapters before it's revealed, and the fact that the notoriously elusive Hina knows further implies that it has been like that for years before they met again:
    Hina: Dai-chan... Date?
    Daiki: ...Who's dating here?! This is Mao! Can't you tell?
    Hina: It's because it's Mao.
    Daiki: BECAUSE WHAT?!?
  • Friendless Background: Mao before being befriended by Hiro, Hina and Daiki as a child.
  • Genre Deconstruction: Of shoujo manga and its common clichés. The series stands out because it explores forms of love beyond romance, which are given equal (if not first) billing in the series. There's familial love, brotherly love, love from one's parents, love for one's home etc. As a matter of fact, the manga is about rebuilding an estranged family just as much as it is about romance, if not more. Also, the manga shows that there are succinct reasons why these forms of love happen and are nurtured, unlike the common use of infatuation like in other shoujo manga.
  • Good Parents: The Nakamura couple.
  • Graceful Loser:
    • Daiki gives up on Mao due to the fact that she brought the colors back into Hiro's life, and is being successful in bringing their family together where both he and Hina failed.
    • Mao's mother tries to come into her daughter's life with the best intentions she can, and after spending a considerable time putting herself together to accomplish it, but she showed up too late, so Mao declines her offer to live together.
    • Subverted with Radical, who becomes a royal mess after Hiro rejects her. It almost completely destroys her relationship with Mao and it takes her a while to climb out of the rut.
  • Hates Being Touched: Croquette, Hiro and Mao's dog, hates to be cuddled by both of them, and likes Daiki the most because he leaves it alone. This is apparently a common trait of Shiba Inu dogs.
  • Heroic BSoD: Hina emotionally flat-lined when her parents died because she's the one who made them go to the store in the first place when the accident happened. She cuts off all attempts by her brothers to bring her home because she's under the impression that she killed her parents with her capriciousness and doesn't deserve to be happy with them until Mao's father convinces her otherwise.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: For most of her life, Mao has considered herself a child too many in her family, and as such, has very low self-esteem. A great part of the story is focused on her constant drive to get out of people's hair, as she feels that she's an intruder in every home she lives in. This is one of the factors that makes her Obliviously Beautiful and also Oblivious to Love.
  • Hime Cut: Mao's hairstyle as a high school student.
  • Huge Schoolgirl: When Hina enrolls in Mao and Daiki's school, she's a good head taller than all the girls in her class and most of the boys.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: Chii is complaining to Mao about how Oda is an idiot. Mao agrees, saying that he is an idiot. Chi quickly shoots back that Mao is not allowed to call him an idiot.
  • I Just Want to Be Loved: Mao wants a family, including structure, rules, curfews, the whole shebang. This is because, when Mao's mom abandoned her dad, and with his emotional neglect of her, the concept of a "family" effectively ceased to exist for her. This happens to be the reason she (apart from her otherwise impeccable appearance) is untidy with her belongings and awful at cooking, as no one ever bothered to enforce this education on her. However, Mao does have the grace of recognizing what she's sorely lacking, and how Hiro is fulfilling several of those shortcomings.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy:
    • Mao would do anything for Hiro. She wants to repay all the kindness he has given to her and the last thing she wants to be is a bother to him... But sometimes she falls under contradictory feelings or actions regarding how to make him happy.
    • She almost states this word for word in chapter 30.
    • Chii would wholeheartedly support Mao if she said she liked/wanted to go out with Oda.
    • Daiki gives up on Mao once he realizes that Hiro and Mao's happiness is his own too, and cannot bring himself to come between them.
  • In-Series Nickname: Hiro, and sometimes Daiki too, calls Mao "Magyo" because it's cuter. While Mao calls Chihiro, her best friend, "Chii-chan" and miss Sugimoto by her nickname "Radical".
  • Indifferent Beauty: Mao is gorgeous but hardly seems to notice her looks, or ever use them.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Daiki becomes notoriously snappy when someone suggests that he and his cousin from Kansai are an item, and his vehement denials are shown to cut her deep, seeing that she's deeply in love with him.
  • Intergenerational Friendship:
    • Subverted. Albeit Hiro is 7 years older than Mao, and much ado is made about their age difference, they're still considered to be within the same generation (±7 years is the usual range). Daiki and Mao are the same age, while Hina is ~2 years younger than them.
    • Mao establishes a close friendship with Sugimoto, who is a fan of her novel, Sugimoto being in her early 20's
  • Jail Bait Wait: At the end of the story, Hiro is literally counting the days so that he can marry Mao.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Daiki can be rather jerkish at times (much to his own chagrin when it comes to Mao), but usually means well.
    • For all his faults, Mao's father was the one who convinced Hina to finally come home.
  • Jerkass: Both of Mao's parents. Emotionally abusive, self-absorbed and just plain obnoxious. In the end, it turned out that they were just projecting their frustrations, and Mao was caught in between.
  • Kissing Cousins: Invoked. Daiki's aunt tells him that she was hoping for him to marry her daughter, but she's aware that he likes someone else back at home.
  • Ladykiller in Love: According to Chii, Oda was a ladies' man. After falling for Mao, he changes.
  • Lethal Chef: Mao's attempts at cooking always end in disaster.
  • Like a Son to Me:
    • Both Hina's and Daiki's aunts where they are staying become this for them.
    • Mao's stepmom spends a considerable time and effort to become this for Mao, and eventually succeeds.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Invoked. Mao and Hiro are shown to be deeply affectionate towards each other, even before any romantic development happened. Most of the manga is spent on them being more than friends, but less than boyfriend and girlfriend.
  • Love Dodecahedron: Chii likes Oda, who likes Mao, who likes Hiro, whom her new friend "miss Radical"/Sugimoto also likes, whom in turn is liked by her online buddy Rei Rei.
  • Luminescent Blush: Mao is the queen of this trope around Hiro or in relation to Hiro.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: Oda has six sisters, this being the reason she likes Mao, as she's like none of them.
  • Master of the Mixed Message: Hiro.
    • He is terrible at setting things straight with Mao, which sends her to unnecessary tangents that she could avoid if he were more direct with her. He is so reluctant about admitting his feelings towards Mao that, at the end, she gets so fed up with him that she has to pry the words out of him, namely, that he wants to marry her.
    • With both Daiki and Hina, as he never considered actually asking them to come home and live together until Mao told him to do so.
  • The Matchmaker: One of the first things that Hina does when she returns home is setting herself the goal of finding a girlfriend for Daiki.
  • Meaningful Name: According to Mao's father, the "Hi" in Hina's name meant to represent the fact that Hina was the "sun" of her parents' home, meaning that Hina is the "sun" in House Of The Sun. This happens to be one of the reasons 3/4 of the story is focused on bringing Hina back home, as the person who brought Mao into her family in the first place.
  • Missing Mom: It is hinted that Mao's real mother has not visited her ever since the divorce years earlier. Mao runs into her in chapter 44, having come with pure intentions to live with Mao, but having turned up way too late.
  • Morality Pet: Mao becomes Hiro, Daiki and Hina's main coping mechanism after spending the good part of a decade estranged from one another after the death of their parents, bringing them together finally under the same roof.
  • My Greatest Failure: The main reason why Hina refuses to live with Hiro and Daiki is because she rationalized that she killed her mom and dad with her capriciousness, so she doesn't deserve to live a happy life with her brothers. Mao's dad dispels this notion on her, finally accepting to live with them.
  • No Sense of Personal Space: Oda and recently Hiro towards Mao.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Mao and Daiki really like weird, ambiguously demonic-looking stuff.
  • Oblivious to Love:
    • Mao is dense even towards her own feelings... she doesn't even notice Oda's until he told her. Hiro seems to be either this or just trying quite strongly to erase any idea of the possibility that what he feels towards Mao might not be brotherly love.
    • She is also oblivious to Daiki's feelings, he makes he hints quite strongly to her that he is interested, but she doesn't catch on.
    • Daiki is unaware that his cousin Ohina likes him, and his interactions with her only serve to hurt her feelings for him.
  • Obliviously Beautiful: Mao is unaware of how strikingly attractive she is, mainly due to the fact that she's an antisocial Tomboy with a Girly Streak.
  • Older Than She Looks: In the epilogue, Kakao and Ohina keep trying to behave in front of Mao because they think that she's a middle schooler, not knowing that she's their senior. This is due to the fact that Hina is so mature, calm and collected, as well as considerably taller than Mao.
  • On the Rebound: It's implied that this is what happened to Mao's dad. He established a relationship with his best friend after she broke up with her conman boyfriend, and subsequently married her, unaware that she still had feelings for the guy. She started cheating on him with said ex-boyfriend soon after they married.
  • One-Hour Work Week: The scenes at school are only of lunch hour, when Mao meets up with Chii and Oda. She is hardly ever seen studying, implying that academics are not an issue.
  • Parental Abandonment: Mao's mother said that she'll keep in contact with her... but it's hinted that she never saw her again, and on the other side Mao's father dumped her for somebody else the second he had a chance.
    • Also the Nakamura siblings, as Hiro's parents died in a car accident.
  • Perpetual Frowner:
    • Daiki is certainly not a smiling cookie. He was born miffed and always sports a scowl.
    • Mao, ever since she was little. This is a trait she inherited from her mom.
  • Repeat What You Just Said: At the end of the manga, Mao literally has to pry on Hiro so that he finally states clearly what his intentions are, as he has a habit of dragging on the implications of what he wants to say instead of actually saying it. After he tells her that he wants to marry her, she immediately accepts.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Mao has beautiful long black hair and very nice skin. Part of the reason she gets confessed to so often. This is the very first thing Daiki notices when he meets her again at his parents' house.
  • Real Men Hate Sugar: Averted with Hiro. Mao on the other side plays it straight.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Hiro, Mao even thinks of him as a maternal kind of person.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Played with. Mao thinks she's one for Hiro for most of the manga, as she's under the impression that she's usurping Hina. It's later shown that this is not what Hiro expects of their relationship.
  • Running Gag: Mao has a knack for writing and drawing on Hiro's forehead with a marker.
  • Sand In My Eyes: Mao always denies that she's crying every time she cries. This is mostly due to the fact that she doesn't like to cry in front of Hiro, even though he always does his best to console her.
  • Self-Applied Nickname: "Radical" derived said handle from the famous Japanese historical figure Date Masamune, her being a huge history nerd.
  • Shared Unusual Trait: Hiro, Daiki and Hina might not resemble each other that much as siblings, but they do share a family trait: they're all very tall.
  • She's All Grown Up: Underneath his deadpan delivery when he met Mao again in Hiro's house, Daiki was taken aback when he saw her again, not a bratty child like before, but a woman altogether:
    Daiki: (inner monologue) When I saw her for the first time, I just knew it was her (...) Her skin is flawless, and she's grown her hair out. No matter how you try to look at it, you're living with a full-fledged woman!! What were you thinking, Hiro!? Do you think it's okay to live with someone like this!?
  • Shipper on Deck:
    • Mao's father ships her with Hiro gaining Hiro's contempt, since he knows her father most likely wants to "free" himself of her.
    • "Miss Radical" ships Kaoru and Takeshi (Mao's novel's main characters)
    • Chihiro supports Mao and whomever Mao loves even if that meant she (Chii) would have to give up her love.
  • Sibling Triangle: Mao likes Hiro, who is starting to reciprocate. So far so good, then comes recent chapters and we discover that Daiki also has feelings for Mao.
  • Single-Target Sexuality:
    • Mao has eyes for no one that is not Hiro.
    • Daiki considers no other girl that is not Mao, even to the point of being Innocently Insensitive to his cousin, who is in love with him.
  • Slice of Life: Most of the manga consists of the household interactions between Mao, Hiro, and later Daiki.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Hina is the least featured main character, but she's the person who brought Mao into her family's life in the first place.
  • So Proud of You: Daiki summarizes Mao, explaining why he likes her so much:
    But if I were to sum up Mao in a single sentence I would say that she always did her best. Always did her best to find her way. Always... Always... Always...
  • Stating the Simple Solution: Early in the manga Mao makes Hiro realize that he never quite said to Daiki and Hina that he wants them to live together with him.
  • Stepford Smiler: Hiro. Even though he always acted like he was fine on his own, he had actually been very lonely, as well as possibly afraid of contacting his family again. His monologue in chapter 32 pretty much sums it up:
    Hiro: I had always been putting up a front. "I'm fine living by myself." I had this idea tucked deep down inside for so long. Perhaps it was because I was scared to face the family I hadn't contacted in years. Or maybe I was simply afraid to embrace the heavy loneliness welled up inside of me. I'm still not sure which one it was. Come to think of it, I don't know what I'll do without Mao. Even so, it feels all I can do is pretend that I'm okay, and silently watch over her as she desperately tries to find her place in this world. Even though she doesn't have to look anymore. Because I just want her to be where she is.
  • Supreme Chef: Everything Hiro makes is delicious and looks good. In contrast, Mao belongs to the other end of the spectrum.
  • Sweet Tooth: Hiro, big time. Every single day he buys cream puffs.
  • Team Mom: Of all people, Hiro assumes this role for both his siblings and Mao.
  • Title Drop: Taiyou no Ie, meaning "House of the Sun," is the name of Mao's cell phone novel.
  • Tomboy with a Girly Streak:
    • Mao, big time. She used to be a more obvious one when she was younger and retains most of it later in her life even after becoming a beautiful girl.
    • Hiro's cousin Kakao is this too, which sets her in stark contrast with Hina, who is calm and collected.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Mao's dad was originally a nice guy that truly loved his family. Then he found out his first wife cheated on him soon after they got married and to the her old boyfriend that scammed her. He then started chastising himself through Mao's presence, which made him keep her at arm's length as much as he could, and accepted Hiro's proposal of cohabitation with Mao because he'd much rather not have an excuse to hate her by forcing her to be with him, with full knowledge that she's completely innocent of everything happened.
  • Trying Not to Cry: When Kakao is saying her goodbyes to Hina, she is apparently taking it in stride, but she starts bawling as soon as Hina leaves the room.
  • Tsundere: Both Hiro and Mao can be this because they've spent most of their lives bickering with each other.
    • Chihiro tends to act like this in front of her Love Interest, Oda, which results in some trouble with Cannot Spit It Out for a while. Until she does, and it does not go well. Eventually, and after interacting together due to Daiki's encouragement, Chihiro finally pries an answer from Oda, who admits ashamedly that he indeed likes her.
    • Daiki often displays signs of being one towards Mao in particular.
  • Wicked Stepmother: The arrival of Mao's stepmother marked a further breach in her relationship with her father. She seems complicit in Mao's exclusion and seems somewhat verbally abusive. She also seems to encourage her own daughter to take over Mao's place in the household.
    • Subverted. When she finally moved back to her father's place, Mao finds out that she is actually a nice and caring mother once she actually took the time to get to know her.
  • Workaholic: Mao's parents when she was young, though that was more to avoid seeing each other.
    • But Kaito, Mao's father, honestly worked a lot after Mao was born so he could provide for his wife and child.
    • The Nakamura father used to come home late at night until a teenaged Hiro demanded that they buy a house close to his workplace so that Dad can get home early.
  • You Are Too Late: Mao's mother comes to fetch her after all of Mao's affairs have settled down finally, but she rejects her mom because of everything she's built in the meantime with her family and friends. Had Mao's mother shown up at the beginning of the story one year before, she would have had a chance.
  • You Keep Telling Yourself That: Mao constantly reminds herself that she has no place in Hiro's family, regardless of whether she does or not:
    Once Hina comes home, Hiro's dream will come true. I haven't forgotten that I'm not... a part of their future.
  • Younger than She Looks: Hina is very tall and mature for her age, and her cousins Kakao and Ohina think that she's older than Mao because of this.

Alternative Title(s): Taiyou No Ie