Fans of Azumanga Daioh rejoice; Minami-ke has arrived! A brilliant show in which absolutely nothing substantive occurs, Minami-ke succeeds at being one of the funnier comedies produced in recent years, and I found myself amused on a consistent basis throughout all thirteen episodes. It carries a distinct, inane sense of humor that continuously draws smiles and laughter throughout its duration, and I found myself disappointed when it all came to a close.
The general setting of the series entails the lives of three sisters living together in an apartment as they attend school. As can be expected, each sister has a personality wildly different from the other two, and the eclectic mixture of their family provides for an especially comedic atmosphere. Each episode picks out random events that occur from day to day, often involving a mismatched romance of some kind, though certainly not limited to any one particular comedic form - a lot of it is simply randomness as its best. While perhaps slightly more structured than Azumanga, Minami-ke nevertheless has a lot of random humor itself, and, as far as presentation goes, tends to follow a similar pattern.
Other than that, though, for being a show quite literally about nothing, there's really not all that much else to talk about for the story section. It's simple, it's entertaining, and it's hilarious - what more needs to be said?
Like all comedy series of this type, the animation is nothing really worth mention. Exaggerated facial expressions, chibi-ness, and other anime stereotypes abound, and all serve their purpose. There is a particular emphasis on parodying the shoujo and shounen-ai genres, though, and I found that one of funnier aspects of the series - there's nothing more simultaneously hilarious and disgusting than a complete mockery of the typical "pretty boy."
In addition, there are a ton of other little visual easter eggs poking fun at various quirks in Japanese culture scattered throughout, and I'd say that more than makes up for the lack of quality; the point of watching Minami-ke is to laugh, after all.
The opening song happens to be strangely contagious, so don't be surprised when you start singing along with the "Hai! Hai! Hai! Hai!" portions of the song at the beginning of every episode. Though the soundtrack is quite simplistic in nature, there are no real repetitive tracks, and each song chosen picks its respective scene perfectly. The voice actors also do a great job with their respective characters, and there's really nothing to complain about here.
Of the three sisters, Haruka is the eldest and happens to be the caretaker of the younger two. She's the typical "every guy's dream girl" with a super-nice, warm personality and naturally has a ton of guys trying to vie for her attention, often whom end up failing in a rather pitiful, amusing manner. Next in line is Kana, the loud-mouthed, extroverted idiot whose simple-minded, gullible nature causes her to be comically exploited in just about any situation imaginable. Last is Chiaki, the introverted child genius who takes pride in her ability to ability to call Kana a dumbass in over ten thousand different ways. They are further fleshed out through a rather elaborate caste of side characters, many of whom wind up in some mishap, one-sided romance with one the girls, only to suffer tragically pitiful results.
As with Azumanga, the characters all tend to take on extremely exaggerated stereotypical personas and thus exhibit minimal traces of actual growth, but in this case it's not a detriment - their shallowness is part of what makes the series so amusing.
For any lover of anime comedy, Minami-ke is not a series to be passed up. Its simple charm is perhaps what makes it so appealing, and it's quite rare for an anime series to get me to laugh as much as this one did. With a second season already in the works it's hard for me to judge it as complete, though, given the nature of an episodic series such as this, "completeness" is a rather relative term. If you're looking for a relaxing way to burn a few hours with a smile, definitely check this one out - it's not to be missed.
Minami-ke is a 13 episode slice-of-life, comedy anime. If you don’t like slice-of-life (lacking in overall plot or narrative) then this is just another to avoid. But for the rest of us and those who love comedy, my initial impressions were: I love it. It’s been a long time since an anime made me laugh so hard. While the jokes can get towards the iffy side of things, there’s nothing that off-putting or pervy about them. This anime reminded me of Lucky Star and has many similarities. Those who enjoy anime like Lucky Star would enjoy this too. And this anime has a sequel… or two… or three!
I was having trouble finding this first season in 720p, but eventually after much struggle I obtained it. And it was worth the effort, this anime has excellent animation quality, especially when it comes to attention to detail. There’s one bit where a foot hits a face at the beach and the foot has sand on it. Another bit where someone gets slapped with a shell and it leaves a shell-shaped red imprint of inflammation on the cheek. So very fluid and flawless. The animation style seems be very typical, but it’s done very well and there’s a few characters that seem to look a bit unique. Like Chiaki with her adorable leaf-shape tuft of hair. They make good use of facial impressions, but I don’t recall the chibi effect being in use. But with an anime like this, I’m sure it’s in there somewhere. Something that adds to the comedy is the super-stylised, almost serious facial animation on close-ups of the main characters faces. When the animation is done well like this, there’s not much else to say.
Oh and of course I must mention my dislike for all things perverted and ecchi. There’s none of that here, despite many references to such things. Yes, Kana chases Chiaki around to kiss her in the first episode and yes, they make a fuss about the older sisters trying to avoid Chiaki from finding out about what ‘weird stuff’ (i.e. sex) is. But there’s a couple of moments where girls might be catching a glance of another girls panties, but thankfully none of this is shown to the viewer and they don’t get pervy with it. This anime is even self-conscious, one character complains about the uncomfortably short length of the school uniform skirt. No panty-shots and no ecchi. It comes very close in the (token?) beach episode though, everyone tries to get Haruka to wear a skimpy swimsuit. There’s also the strange stuff with Makoto cross-dressing and they refer to Haruka stripping too much. Except for all those odd references to sex, just harmless references though. And there’s the TV show where a teacher has a relationship with his student. Thankfully it’s just a strange in-anime TV show the characters watch that doesn’t appear too often, but of course that’s a whole heap of wrong. Oh and the version I had, Chiaki mistook the student for a teacher, saying both characters were teachers. Or that could have been an error of the subtitles.
Well the music and intro could be potentially off-putting, similar to Lucky Star, it isn’t terrible. It’s quite catchy and the lyrics can give a chuckle (the translations since it’s obviously in Japanese). The background music is another place this anime reminds me of lucky star and the sound design is optimised in timing the music such that it helps to amplify the comedy in the scenes. A lot of simple stuff, just one instrument like strings playing a slightly upbeat tune in one scene and it works very well. While there’s no music for me to want to get, the type of music used is very suitable for this anime.
I’m kinda glad this anime is Japanese only, not that I’m an elitist, pretentious dub-hater. Though considering how good the Lucky Star dub was, perhaps this might have been good with a dub? Still, even looking for a subbed version of this Japanese-only anime was difficult (there’s plenty of raw, non-subbed anime out there). None of the voice acting was terrible and it was actually very nice and helped retain the quality of this anime. The one downside is that the sub version I got had annoying additions by the translators. I recommend you avoid Ayako-subs unless there’s no other option. At the start of each episode, they put in fake translations (the real ones near the text) which can be very inappropriate. And the last episode, one of them even has the audacity to voice-over the intro (in English of course). F**k you Ayako-subs! You almost ruined this anime!
Chiaki is voiced by Minori Chihara, who’s voiced Nanaka Shirakawa in Da Capo II (recently watched), Minami Iwasaki and her real self in Lucky Star (:o coincidence?!?), Nagato Yuki in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and some other not so great, but well known anime. Haruka is voiced by Rina Satou, the voice of Shiori Makimura and Eight in Hayate no Gotoku, Kiyoh Bachika in Gurren Lagann and Mikoto Misaka in A Certain Magical Railgun/Index. Kana is voiced by Marina Inoue who has voiced Armin Arlert in Attack on Titan, Eve Genoard in Baccano, Wataru Tachibana in Hayate no Gotoku, Rei Miyamoto in Highschool of the Dead, Pheles in Shakugan no Shana II, Yoko in Gurren Lagann and Alicia Melchiott in the Valkyria Chronicles anime. Fuijoka is voiced by Tetsuya Kakihara, Keiko is voiced by Saori Goto, Hosaka is voiced by Daisuke Ono, Maki is voiced by Reiko Takagi, Makoto is voiced by Rika Morinaga and Riko is voiced by Ao Takahashi.
The oldest of the 3 Minami sisters is the blonde Haruka Minami, a high school student and the sensible motherly one. She’s fairly normal as it goes, though she’s a bit shy when it comes to some things. For example she’s kinda ashamed to be seen in an apparently revealing (actually just normal) 2 piece swimsuit. And she doesn’t want her youngest sister Chiaki to find out what weird things can happen between a boy and a girl. She generally tends to ignore the silly shenanigans her younger sisters are involved in and doesn’t help Chiaki in a very funny scene involving Teruterubouzu (rain god)). Her cooking is excellent and she is usually the one to cook. She does all the chores at home and enjoys it, though she might occasionally ask for help. She’s pretty much good at everything. As far as school goes, she’s average and doesn’t notice advances from guys. She’s loved by her younger sisters and Chiaki especially looks up to her.
The middle sister is the brunette twin-tails Kana Minami, a middle school student and the stupid, yet happy and energetic (and funny) one. Possibly my favourite out of the 3 sisters, Kana is often annoying the other two sisters and I’m kinda sad that she seems to go unappreciated by her two sisters. Her idiocy knows no bounds, she sleeps in, she doesn’t do homework and is so gullible that she completely misunderstands a love letter from Fujioka as a fight challenge, which is sparked and not helped by Chiaki’s misinterpretation (intentional?). She’s pretty useless, since she’s so bad at cooking that she qualifies as a deadly chef (eating her cooking knocks people out), though here it’s obvious since she tends to add unnecessary ingredients and has no concept of amounts do her lack of brain cells. She especially doesn’t seem to get along with Chiaki, but she really likes her adorable younger sister. She still sometimes manages to convince Chiaki to do things by claiming that it’s good for Haruka. She makes a fuss over the smallest of things, overreacts and acts strange, when she gets her love letter she runs home and superman-dives onto the table almost knocking over the tea. I love this character. Cross-dressing Makoto was also originally her idea.
The youngest of the 3 Minami sisters is the light brunette (ginger?) Chiaki Minami, an elementary school student and the mean, cynical one. Her eyes are always half-open, which Kana once claims is so that she can ignore the stupidity that goes on and has a defining tuft of hair on her head above her bangs in the shape of a leaf which it’s adorable! She’s a lot like Kagami from Lucky Star, but without the flaws/tsundere. She’s smart, mostly well-behaved and serious, but doesn't like vegetables. She looks up to her oldest sister Haruka, who does a lot for them and loves her dearly, but she seems to absolutely hate Kana and doesn’t get along well with her. The word she says the most is baka-yarou (dumbass), directed at others, which is often her sister Kana. She complains about how dumb Kana is and punishes her for the smallest if things, like kicking Kana when she’s muttering embarrassing things while sleeping on the living room floor. As cute as this girl is, I feel she really has it out for her sister, at one point she mentions that watching Kana suffer is more entertaining than the terrible Sensei & Ninomiya-kun drama they watch on TV. Which she also complains about, by telling her older sister to write to them to fix things or re-air it when a power cut occurs mid-episode. She dislikes Makoto as he is dumb similarly to Kana, yet with all her brains she can’t tell that Mako-chan is Makoto crossdressing as a girl. She takes a liking to Fujioka, since Haruka mentions he looks like their father. She decides to treat Touma as a guy for no good reason. Probably the second best character, since being paired with Kana provides many laughs.
Fujioka is a guy in Kana’s class who is a star football (soccer) player, is good looking and popular with the girls, though it doesn’t seem too obvious. He has a crush on Kana, but due to a misunderstanding sparked by Chiaki, he is treated as a delinquent looking for a fight by her and is unfortunately labelled ‘Banchou,’ the notorious delinquent of the school. That is despite the fact he is a well-behaved and pleasant person. Chiaki ends up liking him since Haruka mentions he looks like their dad. Kana is always attacking him, both due to the Banchou misunderstanding and due to the fact that Kana can’t ever seem to beat him in any subject, even when she cheats by modifying her marks. He always seems to get one or two points more than her. Riko, a girl in Kana’s class also has a crush on him and is jealous of how well he appears to get along with Kana. Keiko is one of Kana’s friends in her class, who is also well acquainted with Riko. She is a cute and smart girl wearing glasses, who seems to get a perfect score in every test and is very shy. She is often harassed by Kana and Riko who always try and get her attention by pulling on her skirt, which makes her embarrassed. She’s an adorable character.
In Chiaki’s class, her various friends include Yuka (looks like a certain Evangelion character…), a fairly normal girl who appears often and collaborates with Kana on certain things. She is claimed to be dumb, but she actually puts effort into work. There’s also Makoto, the one who may just be dumber than Kana, otherwise he’s a fairly big and very gullible blockhead. He listens to every order given to him by Chiaki, even punishments such as holding two buckets of water and standing at the front of the classroom. Overnight. Since he doesn’t have the initiative to realise that he doesn’t have to wait for Chiaki to tell him to stop. He accepts cross-dressing as a means to get close to Haruka, who he has a crush on. The first time they meet, he helps Haruka out in the kitchen, which angers a very jealous Chiaki.
In Haruka’s school, there’s a guy in the volleyball club called Hosaka who is infatuated with Haruka. Thing is, the guy has never really met her or talked to her. He often fantasises his future with her, but don’t worry, these fantasies are family-friendly especially as he thinks Haruka is raising two children of her own (a misunderstanding). He’s into cooking, he sweats a lot and subconsciously undresses (unbuttoning his shirt). The girls realise he’s hot, but they also realise he’s a total wierdo and an airhead. Hayami is a closed eyes senpai of Haruka’s who is trying to recruit her into the girls’ volleyball team. One of Haruka’s close friends Maki is also on the team, but hates Hosaka and finds him creepy. Yet she’ll get along with him if he ever talks to her. Atsuko on the other hand has a crush on him and is very shy in her attempts to converse with him.
And then we have the other Minami family. The other Minami family you say? Well it turns out that Minami is a somewhat common surname. The family is 3 brothers (to mirror the 3 sisters) …and their tomboyish little sister. Touma Minami is actually in Chiaki’s school and Chiaki decides to treat her as a boy. It probably has a lot to do with growing up in a household of older brothers. Touma is also capable of being fairly aggressive, just like a boy. She becomes well acquainted with the main characters, often visiting their house and having dinner with them. Akira Minami is the youngest brother who is in Kana’s school. He has his head in the clouds about love, yet he hasn’t really found a girl to be interested in. The middle brother is Natsuki Minami, a highschool student in the same school as Haruka. He reminds me of myself, he’s a normal sensible guy but has the misfortune to get into one bad situation. He doesn’t like being in awkward pervy situations and will avert his gaze and/or smash his head on a given surface, making his nose bleed. Well done for trying mate. The older brother and the mastermind of fussing over their little sister is the adult Harou Minami.
I think I might have listed all the characters? Oh there’s the loser oji-san (uncle) Takeru and the characters of the TV show Ninomiya-kun and Sensei.
So what happens with all of these characters? What’s the plot? Zilch. I don’t mean literally, of course some stuff happens to fill in 13 x 25 minute episodes. But there is no over-arching story line or narrative. Were this any other genre of anime, this would be an instant fail. BUT! This is a slice-of-life anime. A marmite genre, you either love it or hate it. Me, I’m in the middle. I enjoy a good anime, but the most important parts of an anime is the story and the characters. This has the characters, but lacks the story.
Yet the weird thing is… even someone as cynical and judgemental as me enjoyed this anime. In fact, I’ve enjoyed anime in the past. I managed to correctly relabel Super Sonico – The Animation as a peaceful slice-of-life anime, which wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. I’ve also enjoyed other peaceful plotless slice-of-life anime like Tari Tari and Hanasaku Iroha. Heck, I enjoyed the anime this reminds me of most: Lucky Star, and that had no plot. Thus, for people who like slice-of-life or those who can tolerate it, you’ll probably like it. It tries it’s best to be sensible, panty shots are non-existent, though there are half-dressed Haruka’s occasionally.
And that brings me to the main point. Why would anyone want to watch this? Because it’s hilarious. I remember laughing my head off at anime I’ve reviewed over the past year, but I’d yet to find something to raise my spirits so much after moving out of my old flat (I miss it so much that it’s been appearing in my dreams these past few days). This anime made me laugh so much, I was clutching my stomach. And story is optional when it comes to jokes. All we need are some good characters, which this anime has in bucket-loads. I just can’t get Kana’s mischievous antics and misunderstood explanations out of my head. And that teardrop mouth expression. This is funny. And that’s all it needs to be. (I can't give is a zero and it feels wrong to leave no score, so I'll just leave a 5 there).
My recommendation here is simple, I feel like broken record for repeating it so many times. If you hate slice-of-life or don’t like most of them, then avoid this like the plague. If you are at least okay with slice-of-life or are a fan of comedy, then give this a go. While I strongly believe that story is important, I occasionally like anime in this vain. Lucky Star was good and so is this. It’s been a long time since I laughed so much… heck I don’t think Lucky Star made me laugh like this. Thus, by that alone this is just a tad better. I can’t wait to watch season 2… hold on it’s the next anime on my list to watch… yay! Stay tuned for my review of that, especially since I’ll be lazy and refer readers to this review for sections like animation and sound. Heck, since this is slice-of-life, I may even refer to the story section here.
Family-friendliness Rating: 3/5 A few things including an inappropriate fictional teacher-student relationship (lower is better)
Overall Rating: 8.5/10 (higher is better)
I must preface this review with the admission that I barely made it through this series. It was an effort of sheer willpower and stubbornness that saw me through to the end of these seemingly ENDLESS 24-minute stretches of NOTHING. If not only for the sake of actually having it as a completely watched series in my list, I also desperately wanted to dig in deep and try to find what all the fuss was about over this anime. The reviews were mostly glowingly favourable, at a glance, and the rating is relatively solid... so what was I missing? Well, the only conclusion that I can draw is that I missed nothing... Because there was nothing to miss.
The storyline is tumbleweed. As far as Slice of Life goes, it's true to the genre - but only in as much as the slice of life they're examining is just about the most tedious niche of familial interaction possible.
There are school bits, home bits, walking home bits, other bits... but that's just it... they're all just bits. Panties, repetitive awkward incestuous 'bits' - that I presume are trying to be cute, or funny, etc. but they are neither, and they are therefore simply mildly tiresome and predictable.
Aniimation was good. Clean, sharp and reasonably creative. However, serves its purpose in subtly adding to the story's monotone approach. There's no eye-popping visuals that draw the 'bits' out into something at least visually engaging, if not intellectually.
No complaints here - the same with the animation, really. However, Chiaki's voice could drive me to kick kittens by the end of it. She's an irritating dunce, with little empathy, even less personality, and almost no intelligence.
What can I say? The characters are pretty much formed by the 'bits' floating around... occasionally colliding, separating and touching each other in whatever random sequence of nonsensical dullness the situation vaguely calls for.
Coupled with that tantalising synopsis, the icing on the boring cake is that so many tired and cheesy stereotypes are played over and over and over. It's been done before, and far, far better than this dreary whitewash.
Would strongly recommend as a substitute for Xanax and half a bottle of vodka for its industrial strength pass-out value.
6.5 / 10 - Grudgingly. Would be more comfortable with a 4.5 - 5 minus the technical specs dragging this carcass of a story above its lowly station.
The opening lines of Minami-ke is the most succinct synopsis that exists. So, we’ll go with that.
“This is just a plain depiction of the days of the lives of the three Minami sisters. Please do not expect too much.”
I admit, I was a big fan of Seinfeld, even though a show about absolutely nothing does not seem a likely source for excellence. But still. I loved it. Why? Because it was funny. And it was funny because it was true. The same goes for Minami-ke. Here is an anime about nothing at all.
Let me start with the main characters, the Minami sisters. There is elementary school student Chiaki. She’s smart but still believable as a child. She’s also brutally honest, dry, and the monotonous delivery of her lines is very comical. Kana, the junior high schooler is…well…there isn’t a nice way of saying it so I’ll just be frank. Kana is an idiot. Not the stereotypical cute, innocent naive sort of idiot. But a shameless, self-centered idiot who is constantly wowing the viewer (and her sisters) with her illogical comments. Her tendency to speak and act before thinking often leads to most of the humorous events in the series as well as to Chiaki’s dismay. Haruka is the oldest sister and the caretaker. She is, of course the perfect girl. She is a wonderful cook, a responsible mother figure, tactful and pleasant. I liked Haruka but she wasn’t nearly as entertaining as her sisters. The rest of the cast list is fairly long but they end up contributing well to the comedy.
Speaking of comedy, Minami-ke does rely heavily on crude gags involving pants falling off at the worst possible time, however the rest of the show makes up for these rather one dimensional events with some of the funniest situational humor I have seen to date. The constant war between Chiaki and Kana gets a little tiring towards the end, but the series is only 13 episodes long so it wasn’t completely worn out. This will be the only complaint I have about the series.
I would say 13+ for Minami-ke due to the crude humor and mild language. Other than that, most of the jokes would probably sail right over the heads of younger viewers so it’s just as well. 9/10. Subtract a point if you have to have a show with some discernible plot or if you just don’t like slice-of-life comedies.
What do you get when you mix three completely different sisters, a crazy bunch of friends, and an episodically formulated series?
You get Minami-ke!
This series follows the daily lives of the Minami sisters, Haruka, Kana and Chiaki, and their adventures with their friends, and...that's it, mainly.
Not having a long consistent plot isn't bad, though. It makes the show fall under the same kind of formula that Azumanga Daioh and Lucky Star have, throwing in a few laughs and some decent animation.
Story: This series does not have a real main "story" but is episodic, and generally follows the same episode plots as other slice of life comedies. However, it does throw in a few different scenarios and circumstances, such as Christmas and the dream of believing in Santa Claus, or the difficulty of cooking a stew with fruit. The basic idea of the "story" is about the daily lives of the three Minami sisters and what happens during the day, or at certain times of the year. While entertaining, its very episodic, but that shouldn't be a problem to others who don't mind that kind of series.
Animation: The animation here isn't anything flashy or complicated, but it fits the show; simple and decent. The character designs aren't very complicated either, but also fit this kind of show. Nothing much can be said about it.
Sound: The music is quirky but unfortunately forgettable (except maybe the eyecatch music). The opening and ending themes are pretty decent, but all of it fits the show pretty well; the show doesn't need anything flashy in terms of music or sound, the simple and cute style matches up well with it. What stands out with the sound is the voice acting; each voice fits the characters they were assigned to, and give them a comedic edge when needed. Haruka is friendly and kindhearted, and it shows in her voice. Kana's voice is loud and obnoxious, just the way it should be, and Chiaki's voice is monotone and sarcastic. The seiyuus did a really good job with their parts.
Characters: Probably the best part of this series is the characters. While not deep or complicated, these characters are very entertaining and hilarious, making you laugh out loud in some circumstances. The relationships between these characters is strong, such as the sisterly bond between the Minami sisters, despite the fighting that they get involved with. The friends of the main characters are crazy and hilarious, making for an interesting secondary cast. However, in some situations, some explanation about certain characters is needed but never given.
Overall, it was an interesting and entertaining little comedy. This kind of show isn't for everyone and shouldn't really be a problem for those who enjoy episodic comedies. Great characters and cute little adventures mark this show as pretty memorable and entertaining, but it can be a little bland at times. Not perfect, but worth a watch.