シマシマ (Shima Shima) is a 2008 manga by Yamazaki Sayaka. I have the Korean version.
This is a 12 volume series about … an interesting setup and subject. I am surprised that this didn’t get an anime adaptation because there is a drama based on the plot.
The subject of this manga is sleep deprivation. That itself is perhaps nothing new. But the setup is.
The main character is a woman in late 20s whose name is Houkigi Shio. She was divorced recently at the start of the story. It wasn’t because of infidelity or anything. Her husband simply left. Although it is never clearly revealed, her husband was a bum but is good-looking.
Because Shio liked her husband very much, she had been having an issue with sleeping since her divorce. There was also a matter of finance. She runs a spa shop and she is barely keeping up with her mortgage payment for it.
By a total coincidence, she happens to run a joint where young guys help sleep deprived women sleep. There is absolutely no skinship allowed. The guys simply help women have some good sleep by being friends to them. This and her spa shop brings in just enough money for Shio to meet her mortgage payments each month.
Now, there are 4 guys. Among them, there is a younger brother of her ex. While a bit awkward, those two remain friends until she finds herself sleeping next to him in one morning. – This is the first few page of the volume 1.
Shio herself hadn’t been getting much of sleep lately, and one of the guys who happened to be a younger brother of her sex helped her to sleep.
For the record, it is quickly revealed afterwards that they haven’t had sex. Shio quickly checks her underwear and she is wearing them along with her pajama. Regardless, the situation is really awkward although, strictly speaking, there isn’t anything too wrong here.
Both are adults. Both are free. The only issue is that the guy is a younger brother of her ex. By the way, the guy’s name is Tamabuki Gai.
The story of Shima Shima is about Shio’s ordeals. There are full English scanlation available. Therefore, I will not spoil much about its plot.
This is a slice of life series. But, for a slice of life genre, there are plenty of events to go by due to the weird nature of Shio’s relationships with the 4 guys.
She eventually accepts that her (ex-) husband is not coming back and tries to date one of the four guys while Gai is indirectly suggesting that he always has had feelings for Shio even before her marriage to his elder brother.
It is mostly down to Shio who has to make a decision.
I have the official Korean version here. Never bothered to acquire Japanese ones. It turns out that the physical manga books for this series has become quite rare in 2021.
Personally, I believe this would have made a pretty decent anime. Its somewhat illicit nature of Shio’s situation is the charm of this series. And, again, legally there is nothing that is stopping Gai and Shio to enter a relationship. It’s mostly moral barriers that are stopping them, and to an extent, Gai’s family who appears to be fairly rich.
And Gai’s mother hates Shio and blames her for the divorce which is understandable from a mother’s point of view. It is indicated that his mother never liked Shio to begin with. She felt she wasn’t good enough for her elder son which she feels justified when her son simply leaves Shio.
There are a rather complex web of relationships and emotions throughout the series. Shio trying to meet her mortgage payments, Gai trying to impress her, also Shio trying to avoid Gai’s mother at all costs, etc etc.
It does get a tad boring and stretched out near the end because of Shio’s indecisiveness. But she does make her decision in the last volume.
Bonus material: Book covers (Korean version)
If you notice, I do not have the last volume. That is because I lost interest by then. The story drags on near the end and it ends with a whimper. Still, the first half of the story, up until volume 6 or 7, is quite good.