Title: To Grandmother’s House We Go
Creator: Rumiko Takahashi
Summary: A woman poses as her dead friend to claim a 500 billion yen inheritance
I haven’t done a Takahashi recap in over a year since “The Laughing Target,” but hopefully this tale’ll be less problematic.
“To Grandmother’s House We Go” was reprinted under the Rumic Theater banner instead of Rumic World. Specifically it was collected in the One Or Double collection translated in English by Viz Media.
This is a slightly comedic horror story about a young woman who, extremely reluctantly, agrees to pose as her dead best friend to collect said friend’s vast inheritance. Along the way, the girl receives some help from an extremely unexpected ally. This is unfortunately one of the many stories that didn’t receive an anime adaption, but it’s still one of my faves.
Waiting in the hospital, Nozomi and her boyfriend Susumu stumble upon a newspaper article regarding a 500,000,000 yen inheritance. And the inheritor appears to be Nozomi’s best friend Noriko!
The article states a landowner’s family’s trying to locate her long missing granddaughter Noriko, to bequeath over 500 million yen worth of property. However, the terms of the will expire in about a week if the inheritor’s not found.
Nozomi’s amazed since she didn’t know if Noriko had any family. Susumu decides to double check and barges into Noriko’s room (against Nozomi’s wishes) asking if Noriko had a rich dead granny…
Just as Noriko’s passed away.
Nozomi’s heartbroken and starts sobbing at Noriko’s side. Susumu remains quiet, and neither of them notice the old lady peeking in through the hospital window.
A few days later, Susumu’s griping about how Nozomi supposedly got gipped. Nozomi looked after Noriko while she was in the hospital and even handled her cremation, and all she got was a good luck charm. Nozomi doesn’t care what she received, stating she did it because Noriko was her best friend. The note with the charm states Noriko received it from her grandma when she was little, but Susumu scoffs at the idea it’s actually lucky.
However, Susumu did some digging and learned Noriko’s indeed the heiress mentioned in the article. That’s when he reminds Nozomi how lots of people often thought she and Noriko were sisters. And, y’know, if it’d been 20 years since anyone saw Noriko…
Nozomi’s fucking livid at Susumu’s gall. Pretend to be her dead best friend to steal her inheritance?! Like GEEZ Susumu, she might be poor but she’s got stand-
At which point the local debt collectors start loudly banging at the apartment door, screaming at the couple to give themselves up and warning their neighbors not to give them any money. This is apparently their last chance to pay up or they’re going to jail.
So Susumu, where’d you say Noriko’s family lived?
Cue one train ride, with Susumu dressed up as “Noriko’s” lawyer and both of them once again unaware of the old lady in the window.
Nozomi and Susumu arrive at their destination, way out in the country. Susumu warns Nozomi not to blow it, but Nozomi claims to have heard enough about Noriko’s childhood. The two reach a large mansion and introduce themselves as “Noriko” and “Mr. Yokoshima.” The two are led inside to a room featuring some of Noriko’s adult relatives and a priest. As soon as the two sit down, the relatives announce they’re “Number Eleven.”
Yeah Susumu wasn’t the only guy to think this scheme up. Noriko’s relatives have dealt with a number of phonies with their forged documents and fake lawyers. The family decided the best way to handle this was to have Grandmother decide. Even though she’s, well, dead.
Immediately the priest begins chanting and the seance to channel Grandmother’s spirit begins. As everyone else remains silent, Nozomi mentally begs Noriko’s grandma to help. Nozomi swears she did her best to help Noriko and promises the first thing she’ll do with the money is give Noriko a proper burial.
The priest suddenly stops chanting, and the air in the room grows thick with tension. It’s evident Grandmother’s spirit has arrived when the priest says “Only the real Noriko would have the charm I gave her.”
The very same charm Nozomi quickly pulls out for everyone to see.
The relatives swarm around the good luck charm, confirming it’s the real deal. BUT, they propose it could’ve been stolen from the real Noriko. “Noriko” and “Mr. Yokoshima” can’t believe what nerve these people have…
Until Noriko’s aunt announces a bath will be drawn in order to prove “Noriko” is Noriko, and Nozomi fears they’re screwed.
In private, Nozomi explains to Susumu how Noriko had a birthmark on her back. Only this one could only be seen when her skin was heated, like in a hot bath. Susumu can’t believe she waited until now to mention this, exclaiming they could’ve gotten her a tattoo. Yeah easy for you to say when it’s not your skin, Susumu!
One of the maids announces the bath is drawn, so Nozomi sucks it up and goes for it. At first, she plans to sit in the water long enough her skin’ll redden, to the point they wouldn’t be able to make out anything. Nozomi’s only been in the water for like a minute or two when she’s told to get out. In the next room, Noriko’s female relatives tell Nozomi to uncover her back…
The blood drains from their faces.
Nozomi’s not sure what happened when the relatives depart the room, and then the maid bows to her as “Miss Noriko.” Looking in a mirror, Nozomi’s startled at the reflection of her bare back. There’s a birthmark!
And… something else.
Outside, some of the relatives discuss what to do about this startling revelation. While preparing a live chicken for dinner, one of Noriko’s male cousins states it simply can’t be helped. Chopping off the bird’s head, he figures all they can do is send “Noriko” to be with Grandmother.
Nozomi’s telling Susumu she wants to get the fuck out of here. She doesn’t care how much they owe, she’s too creeped out. Susumu heads her off and tells the maid they’ll be joining the family for dinner.
Dinnertime’s a prime time to learn how fucked up Noriko’s family really is, as her uncle gets drunk and mutters about her having “The blood of a tramp.” Doesn’t show her face for 20 years except when there’s money involved. Nozomi’s quietly getting pissed at the way the real Noriko’s being referred to and asks what they’re talking about. Well apparently, Noriko’s mom eloped with some guy. Ran out on the family and only came back once with Noriko about 20 years ago.
Nozomi gets in a pretty good dig.
“Yes, my mother told me all about it. She didn’t want me to deal with… nasty relatives.”
Noriko’s uncle gets super pissed off and Nozomi’s had enough, dragging Susumu out with her. Before she was scared, now Nozomi’s mad as fuck at these pissants for disrespecting her best friend. Screw them, she’s taking all the money!
That night, Nozomi dreams about Noriko. It’s about the one time she visited the family with her mother. Noriko met her grandmother, while her mom said they were moving away because she couldn’t live here anymore. Grandmother sadly accepted this, but gave Noriko her good luck charm. She promised she would always look after Noriko.
Nozomi wakes up to find Grandmother’s spirit kneeling beside her. Too terrified to call out to Susumu, Nozomi can only mentally plead with Grandmother. Nozomi knows how much Grandmother must’ve loved Noriko, because Nozomi loved Noriko as well. They both want Noriko to have a proper burial, but Nozomi simply doesn’t have the money for it. Again, Nozomi swears she’ll handle Noriko’s needs as soon as she gets the inheritance. Grandmother… holds out her pinky.
Nothing says making a promise to a dead woman like a pinky swear!
The next day, Nozomi and Susumu are brought to a storehouse near the mansion. Noriko’s uncle says the storehouse contains the registry and everything else belonging to Grandmother. She swore in her will no one else was allowed to touch anything in the storehouse except Noriko. Nozomi and Susumu both get the feeling Grandmother wasn’t fond of these jackholes, but Nozomi’s not surprised.
The uncle leaves the two to “Paw” through whatever they want. Nozomi gets further incensed exclaiming they aren’t animals.
Susumu: May I advise my client to remain calm?
Nozomi: But we haven’t done anything wrong!
Susumu: Oh, of COURSE not…
Susumu starts looking through the papers, but he’s in for a nasty shock. There’re no registry papers or anything valuable. It’s all old checkbooks and bills! The two start tearing through the room, but they can’t find anything important. Well, Susumu notices a fancy looking necklace, but other than that there’s nothing! Noriko’s relatives fleeced the place!
And apparently set the building on fire, too.
Nozomi and Susumu can’t make it downstairs and there’s no other door! The two try to break down one of the walls, but it doesn’t seem to do any good. The two embrace and say, if they have to die together, they hope they’ll be reincarnated in a simpler life…
And then immediately start banging on the wall harder screaming they won’t die. They bang and bang so hard, neither of them notice the hand reaching through the floorboards-!
Nozomi wakes up some time later, being carried on Susumu’s back. She vaguely remembers seeing Grandmother’s spirit, but he thinks the old woman was trying to drag them into hell.
On the train back to the city, Nozomi bemoans what a waste this whole experience was. Susumu surprises her by pulling out the necklace he found. He supposes it’s made from real jade and could be worth at least 500,000 yen. That could cover all their debts!
However, Nozomi remembers the promise she made to Grandmother. Susumu scoffs, asking what that old lady could do up-GULP.
Of course, burying Noriko would be the right thing to do.
I don’t really have any deeper thoughts to add to this, other than I like the role reversal wherein the scammers are the heroes and the unspoken implications that Grandmother was killed off by her greedy family (which would give her more of a reason to help Nozomi and Susumu).
By the way, as of the exchange rate right now, 500 thousand yen’s comparable to about $4,700 which would explain why they’d only have enough to cover the burial or their debts.