Anime Review Minami-ke Series

Anime Hajime Review: Minami-ke

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Original Run: October 2007 - December 30, 2007
Number of Episodes: 13
Genre: Comedy, Slice of Life
Based on the Series Created By: Coharu Sakuraba

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Minami-ke. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

This is the story of the three Minami sisters, Haruka, Kana, and Chiaki (voiced respectively by Rina Satou, Marina Inoue, and Minori Chihara).

Living together, this group spends much of their time with each other. If you are an acquaintance of one, you for sure have heard of the other two.

Haruka, as the responsible eldest sister, does her best to care for her younger siblings. As the middle child, Kana is happy-go-lucky and never without energy. Being the youngest, Chiaki has two role models to give her guidance. Granted, she does prefer the kind-hearted Haruka over the troublemaking Kana.

With similar – and simultaneously – different personalities, things are never boring at the Minami residence. As more and more people enter their lives, one thing remains constant:

No matter what, the Minami sisters are always there for each other.

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Series Positives

I’ve seen Minami-ke before, and ever since my first viewing, I have enjoyed this series to no end.

The bulk of what I remember about the Minami-ke franchise (and I have seen all four installments) is from this first season. Mainly, this series has a distinctive look.

As a slice-of-life anime, uniqueness is nothing short of impressive. When something distinguishes itself in this genre, that is an accomplishment. And happily enough, Minami-ke is strong in other areas too, such as story and comedy.

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However, there were three critical aspects that made this series as good as it was – the Minami sisters. Haruka, Kana, and Chiaki were easily the best elements of Minami-ke.

This show successfully managed to establish the trio’s relationship as sisters, as well as distinct, individual characters.

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Haruka was caring, respectful, and responsible. When at school, the burden of caretaker for her younger siblings lightened a little. She could be more relaxed and was allowed more freedom to behave like a teenager. However, at home, Haruka had a motherly air to her. She played both roles well.

Chiaki was the byproduct of being the youngest sibling. She had many of the characteristics of her older sisters. She could be both highly mature or extremely pushy. Chiaki had the patients to be a good student and always studied hard (a trait adopted from Haruka), but she also had a short fuse and temperament (something directly attributable to Kana).

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Finally, Kana was the most interesting of the three. Unlike Haruka and Chiaki, there wasn’t much difference between at home Kana or at school Kana. She was hyper and bombastic where ever she was. But Kana always maintained a pretty good grasp over most things. She was quick to pick up people’s quirks.

Is it any wonder why the Minami sisters were the most enduring element of Minami-ke? This show only ever needed one of the three to make anything it did tolerable – if not flat-out entertaining. Thus, when the trio was together, it’s no surprise to me how this series has fared far better than most.

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From what I can recall of the other seasons in this franchise, there isn’t much. I’m not sure if that is a bad thing or not. I know I hold this entire series in high esteem, but we will have to see how the rest holds up.

Still, if these are the three we are going to keep following, I’m not worried.

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Series Negatives

I’m not sure how to put this in a nicer way.

Minami-ke wasn’t as good as I remembered it being.

Don’t get me wrong: I had fun with this return and stand by this show as one of the better slice-of-life anime out there. Regardless, it does appear I overinflated this series in my head.

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While unfortunate, it wasn’t without reason. There were several quirks to Minami-ke that were more prevalent to me this go around.

This series became more problematic as it went on. As the cast and the scenarios kept getting larger, it was harder for things to focus. The first half of Minami-ke was far more fun than the second. It’s difficult to nail down where that transition period was. Yet by episode thirteen, you can feel how the series wasn’t quite the same.

A precursor to the other three seasons maybe? I certainly hope not.

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To begin, many of this show’s issues came from the side characters. Okay, to be fair, most of these people were fine. However, there was a lot of them. This became such a large cast that the Minami girls felt less prevalent in the latter half of this season. It was almost as if the show was setting itself up for a continuation.

Then there were the random out of character moments.

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These were strange, and to be honest, they didn’t happen that often. When they did, though, they came out of nowhere. Characters would break character for what appeared to be a setup for a stupid joke.

And the biggest culprit was Haruka.

This wasn’t a fanservice-heavy show. In fact, it would have been great had Minami-ke avoided this altogether. Too bad the series threw in a few instances and those inclusions were not smooth.

Some of the things Haruka had to do were baffling and farfetched.

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One was a scene where Haruka came home like she had done many times before. When she arrived a decent size group of “girls” was hanging out. Then without any explanation, Haruka started undressing in the living room.

I can’t say this wasn’t a plausible thing for Haruka to do. But this was the first time she had ever done that. When she came home before and only her sisters were around, she didn’t start stripping right away.

Why here? What was special about this instance? Was this the day where she said, “screw it?” Was she having a rough week? Or did this have something to do with this also being the introduction of a certain boy-forced-into-impersonating-a-girl character?

Hmm, I wonder?

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Another example came later in the series.

As it turned out, Haruka’s default state was pure laziness. When there was no one to watch her, she would turn into the world’s biggest couch potato.

Again, not an awful idea. Except this was a blatant contradiction to what the show had already done.

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There was an earlier episode where Haruka got to stay home alone for the entire day. Did she lie around doing nothing like her laziness would suggest? No, she didn’t. She got the laundry done, cleaned the kitchen, and even baked a cake. That’s not being lazy. That’s actively doing time-consuming things.

What was the reason behind changing that? Oh, a male classmate of Haruka’s was making an unexpected visit. Better give the pretty older sister the most disheveled, a.k.a. seductive look possible.

Why force this in? This wasn’t necessary. The show was doing fine without it. I hope this is something that dies here in this season.

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Final Thoughts

One day I may decide to watch the next installment because why not?

If you’re looking for an entry into the slice-of-life genre, I can think of few better jumping off points. The comedy here works. The scenarios are fun. The characters, for the most part, are enjoyable. And leading the charge are three of the most memorable sisters in anime.

If you haven’t already, Minami-ke is well worth a look.

But these are my thoughts; what are yours? Have you seen this show; how would you advise Minami-ke? Leave a comment below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

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For Anime Hajime, I’m Odyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

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