RocketNews24’s Seiji becomes a big brother for an afternoon.

We recently took a look at a service from Japanese company Family Romance in which you can rent friends, or at least people who’ll pose as your friends, so you can post about your active social life on social media. But as its name implies, Family Romance’s primary service is renting out staff members who’ll pretend to be your family members.

This is where our Japanese-language reporter Seiji comes into the picture. Some of you may remember that Seiji doesn’t have a girlfriend, but he also lacks a little sister.

▼ Seiji (not pictured: Seiji’s non-existent little sister)

Not having a younger female sibling has left Seiji feeling like he’s missing out on a fulfilling aspect of human relationships, and so he decided to rent a little sister from Family Romance.

Now just to clarify, Seiji wasn’t renting a child, but rather the company of an adult woman who would pretend to be his little sister for a period of three hours, for which Family Romance charges 15,000 yen (US$135). While that’s a fair chunk of change, dropping a bit of cash is far easier for Seiji than convincing his parents to make another baby at this point in their lives, and so he went to Family Romance’s website and filled out a request form for the little sister rental service.

As part of the initial request, customers are asked to list the date on which they wish to rent a little sister, where they want to meet, and what locations they’ll be going to during the session (deviation from the expressed course is prohibited, as are requests for excessive physical contact). Customers can also make requests regarding age, appearance or personality. Seiji, feeling slightly embarrassed about revealing his preferences, asked for a little sister in her late 20s or younger who likes the flashy style of clothing called gyaru fashion in Japan. He added that, ideally, he’d like someone who looks like model Yukina Kinoshita, but who has geeky, otaku-like hobbies and a tsundere/hot-and-cold personality.

40 minutes later, Seiji had a response from Family Romance, with an attached photo of the staff member that best matched his requests and was available on the date he’d requested.

The confident look in her eyes made Seiji think that she was just the sort of tsundere he’d be proud to call his sister, and so he sent his message of approval. On the appointed day, he woke up bright and early, and while drinking a glass of cold soymilk for breakfast, he received an email, which read:

“Good morning. This is Eri from Family Romance. I will arrive at Ikebukuro Station around 9:40. Where should we meet?”

Seiji was glad to see that the first direct contact from his rental little sister was snappy and businesslike, as opposed to a gushing “Oniiiii-chan!” (“Big Brother!”) as girls who idolize their bigger brothers are fond of calling them. He sent a response put on his shoes, and headed to the exit of Ikebukuro Station that he’d chosen as their meeting point.

“It’s nice to meet you,” said Eri, and she and Seiji headed off to the first stop on their prearranged course, stepping into a cafe for some coffee and chitchat. During their first conversation, they decided what to call one another, settling on “Aniki” (“big bro”) for when Eri was addressing Seiji, and simply “Eri” for when he was talking to her.

Once they’d finished their coffee, it was time for some clothes shopping.

When Seiji had chosen this activity, he’d pictured himself as the gruff but kind-hearted big brother, who grudgingly agrees to accompany his excited sister on her shopping excursion and carry her packages. However, this fantasy didn’t play out exactly as he’d envisioned, because Seiji was having so much fun that he couldn’t keep the smile off his face.

Seiji also asked Eri to coordinate a few outfits for him, both of which he ended up buying.

▼ Not that Seiji is incapable of picking out his own clothes, of course.

Finally, the last stop on this day of brother and sister togetherness was Seiji’s apartment, where Seiji wanted to play some video games and watch some anime with his temporary little sis.

We should note that Family Romance usually requires customers to stay in public places with their rental siblings. However, they made an exception for Seiji, based on the apparent goodwill and trustworthiness that the RocketNews24 name carries. However, neither of those prevented Eri from exclaiming “This place is so messy and dirty! I don’t want to sit down on the floor!” when she say the interior of Seiji’s apartment.

▼ He did ask for a tsundere, after all.

But as homey and familial as things seemed, when the three hours were up, Eri promptly took her leave (while the base three-hour package can be extended at a cost of 5,000 yen per 60 minutes, such extensions have to be specified as part of the original request). After thanking Seiji for using Family Romance’s services, she turned around and walked away.

Nevertheless, Seiji felt satisfied. “It was a really fun day,” he told us, and even though he’s once again without a little sister, he’ll always have a nostalgic, sepia-colored photo to remember Eri by.

Related: Family Romance website
Eri portrait photo provided by Family Romance, all other photos ©RocketNews24
[ Read in Japanese ]