Originally Posted by VivisQueen
As a child, I used to dream about going to an all-girls boarding school, living away from my parents, and having bold giggly[COMMA, right?] adventures behind my teachers’ backs like in those Enid Blyton novels. Once I hit my teens, I could think of nothing worse – I learned to prefer the company of men, and my idea of social hell is getting stranded on a desert island with a bunch of young women. To understand my reasons why, watch Brother, Dear Brother.
It begins an angst-ridden teen soap opera in which the rich[DASH]bitches of a prestigious high school vie for position, power, and other such petty rewards. Their concerns are typically superficial and have no grounding in everyday reality. I recall a particularly illustrative scene after Nanako wins a place on the Sorority, the school’s most elite club. One astute peer observes, ‘I don’t see anything special about her. Not exceptionally pretty. So she must be the only daughter of a very rich family.’ Her friend knowingly responds, ‘No, she’s lower middle-class.’ The former, now truly aghast: ‘You’re kidding. That makes no sense to me!’ I’m not sure which saddens me more – the girls’ life-long imprisonment in a rose-tinted bubble or the fact they’re correct to question Nanako’s abrupt selection based on such inane criteria.
Over time, however, the series evolves into something far more interesting, if no less disturbing - an edgy psychological melee in which everyone hurtles towards madness in that Lord of the Flies sort of way. This is shoujo, alright, but shoujo with a surreal flavour – like biting into an apple and tasting hints of orange, banana, and magic mushroom. <-- I loved this line!
Key to its free-for-all feeling is a narrative that’s as expansive and convoluted as it is thought-provoking: the protagonist Nanako Misono falls in love with the fey and slightly demented Saint-Juste, who in turn has a destructive relationship with the most popular girl, Miya-sama; aloof and cunning, she presides like an ice queen over the student body desperate to join the Sorority, which<-- student body or Sorority? it's a little unclear from this sentence includes the highly insecure Mariko Shinobu and bitter Aya Misaki; and both of them try to rise to the top of the playground food chain by targeting Miya-sama’s new favourite, Nanako Misono. Breathless yet? Just think, that’s only the beginning. Later, more relations, more twists, and more minor characters add to the complications. <-- I'm not sure the repetition of 'more' is as effective here as you hoped. Maybe if the list was at the end of a sentence?
Of the various intertwining plot strands, Miya-sama’s and Saint-Juste’s obsessive relationship proves the most emotional. <-- For the characters or emotionally resonant to the viewer? It seemed unclear. Aloof and cunning, OH NOES! Don't look at this as a failing, look at is as an opportunity to use 'sagacious' in a review. ^_^ Miya-sama has a strange hold over Saint-Juste and manipulates her with the megalomaniacal glee of a puppet master. <-- A little on the weak side to my ear. I'd have gone with 'Miya-sama exercises her strange hold over Saint-Just, manipulating her with the megalomaniacal glee of a puppet master.' Also 'strange hold' seems a little mundane? But I haven't seen the show, so it's possible your language is precisely correct.In turn, fragile Saint-Juste rails and flounders, clearly in distress but just as clearly tied to Miya-sama by some sentimental bond.<-- Great, subtle use of parallel structure. This should be an example to new reviewers about how repetition can be effective in the right hands. Although fascinating for the most part, their tale does take on a predictability that’s difficult to stomach. Saint-Juste turns out the kind of victim who, despite half-hearted suicide attempts and endless crying, runs willingly back into the hands of her oppressor. Instead of a moving tragedy, this tango of punishment describes the self-induced descent of a pathetic loon; I thought the sooner she jumped off a bridge, the sooner she could release me from her cycle of self-abuse. <-- Ooooh! Angry!
Granted, Brother, Dear Brother is not without visual flaws. <-- I thought it was strange to start with 'Granted', but that could be a stylistic thing for me as an American. It overuses its still shots to the point when entirely mundane situations such as Mariko and Nanako getting off a bus have to be immortalised as a sketch. One side effect is that the series hasn’t aged well and nobody could mistake it for anything but a nineties production. More often than not, though, the stills are delightful; like paintings or manga artwork, their stylistic touches create a dreamy wistfulness that makes the show distinctive.
Most importantly, when the animation flows, it does so with incredible beauty. The slender, doe-eyed cast glide through frames rich in detail and potently atmospheric. A portentous wind may then blow in a timely manner, lifting lush volumes of hair and diaphanous skirts, while the sun makes eyes sparkle beatifically. What’s more, at the mere sweep of a paintbrush, the characters’ ephemeral sensuality can slip into frightful ugliness. <-- Man, that was awesome! I loved the purple-prose-ish setup to 'frightful ugliness'.
Indeed, what Brother, Dear Brother lacks in technical polish, it makes up for with evocative style.