These are just some plain remembrances of the days of the lives of the three Minami sisters. Please don’t expect too much. Also, brighten your room, and keep at least 3 metres away from your computer screen. This anime is definitely not Bible Black.
Once upon a time, when music was still made with guitars and moe was nothing else but a name to your average anime fan, there were three sisters who lived together in a generic, average apartment. Their names were Haruka, Kana and Chiaki: Spring, summer and autumn.
Haruka (played by Rina Satou, better known as a certain scientific railgun) was the motherly older sister, dedicated to taking care of her sisters and being nice – as long as you stay away from her chest, lest falling victim to a royal asskicking from the retired badass.
Kana (played by Marina Inoue, better known as a certain well-endowed sniper) was the hyperactive and loud middle sister and legendary dumbass who clearly had to compensate for something. The only thing bigger than Kana’s mouth was her own ego. Also, she is boss.
Last but not least, there was Chiaki (played by Minori Chihara, better known as a certain book-loving alien), the snarky younger sister who idolized Haruka, but showed a perpetual disinterest into everything said by people dumber than her — in other words, everyone.
Their names were widely known all over the generic, average Japanese town they lived in. This was the Minami family, a loveable, eccentric and hilarious tiny family of three who brought the noise for one of anime’s greatest slice-of-life classics.
Minami-ke is brilliantly structured for something this simple. Using the girls’ apartment as a centrepiece, every episode consists of multiple sketches and subplots revolving around the sisters’ respective circles of friends and school lives. Because all three sisters were in a different school — Chiaki in elementary school, Kana in middle school and Haruka in high school – Minami-ke’s premise allowed for a lot of variety in the many antics. Each set of friends represented a series of themes typical for kids of their age and the collision between these different age groups makes for some great jokes. Minami-ke offered a perfect freeze-frame shot of three steps on the path to maturity, and made excellent use of the similarities and differences between the three age groups represented in its cast.
While the tree sisters were great and surprisingly enthralling characters in their own right, the side characters made for perfect foils for them to interact with. Unless you happen to have watched the entirely obscure Kenko Nude Swimming Series Umisho, this was probably your first time meeting Aki Toyosaki, as the precocious Yoshida. Eri Kitamura did what Eri Kitamuras do best by playing the idiotic Uchida, who would gladly take Chiaki’s place as Kana’s younger sister. There were Touma (Nana Mizuki), the girl who looks like a boy, and Makoto (Rika Morinaga), the boy who is forced to look like a girl — after Chiaki kicks him out of the apartment for awkwardly hitting on her oldest sister. Then there was Hosaka (Daisuke Ono), the overdramatic narcissist with an unrequited crush on Haruka and a set of delicious bishonen abs he loved showing off to people, Fujioka (Tetsuya Kakihara), the dogged nice guy who could not catch a break, Maki and Atsuko, Haruka’s best friends, they shy Keiko, Hitomi, and a bunch of other great creatures of the wacky world.
The first season of Minami-ke combined all these elements into a truly great feel-good anime, but the franchise plummeted downhill afterwards. Production was handed over to studio Asread, who changed the art style, got rid of the first series’ soft pastel tints and cranked the fanservice up to eleven.
The second season, named Minami-ke: Okawari (“A second serving”) was not based on the manga and introduced Fuyuki, the Minami sisters’ wholly uninteresting neighbour, whose meek demeanour and complete lack of likeable traits quickly got on the nerves of Chiaki and the entire audience. Fuyuki was quickly put on a bus for the third season, Minami-ke: Okaeri (“Welcome back”). Okaeri was an improvement over the second season, but its lack of real jokes and charm prevented it from truly living up to the first. Asread gave up on the franchise and moved on to making some stupid series about some guy with a cell phone that can predict the future. Who the heck asked for that?
This winter, Minami-ke will finally return to television with a fourth season. This news was exciting for a whole five days, however, as it quickly turned out that this season would be produced by none other than studio Feel, responsible for such classic anime as kiss X sis and Yosuga No Sora. To me, this news is about as infuriating and disappointing as Michael Bay wanting to turn the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles into aliens, though it is quite hilarious the most “controversial” anime studio around got its greasy hands on an anime that made fun of “shocking” television shows about “forbidden love” for an entire season. If the Minami sisters end up engaging in some wild incestuous lesbian orgy, I will scoff. Studio Feel destroying one of the only anime I truly hold dear, will only make me love this first season more.