The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Minami-ke: Okawari

Title: Minami-ke: Okawari aka The Minami Family: A Second Helping
Genre: Comedy
Company: asread/Starchild Records
Format: 13 episodes
Dates: 7 Jan 2008 – 31 Mar 2008

Synopsis: It’s New Year’s Day and the Minami sisters’ cousin, Takeru is over for a visit to check up on them. Kana is incredibly bored, and tries to get Haruka to show a “hidden talent” (which sparks Chiaki’s curiosity as well). While Haruka prepares, Touma and Makoto show up, but Kana promptly sends them away until “Mako-chan” turns up. As Touma and Makoto make themselves comfortable, Haruka bursts out to show her “hidden talent”, which doesn’t really go down well…

The Highlights
Comedy: Never quite as funny as the original series.
Slice of life: The more serious components in the plot are weak.
Bible Black faces: Creepy.
Hosaka: A king among men; fabulous beyond words.
As a sequel: A few subtle differences in approach lead to significant differences in impact.

The reason why it’s taken me for so long to review Minami-ke Okawari is because it wasn’t until recently that I could even come up with a set of reasons as to why it was inferior to the first season of Minami-ke, and even now I’m not completely convinced with my explanation. There are a number of superficial differences between the two series that are immediately obvious, but of themselves, they don’t explain why one season is (evidently) funnier than the second. I think the answer is that it’s basically a whole heap of little things: subtle changes in animation, timing, deliver and just the simple fact that the material has aged slightly compared to the first season, where it was still new and fresh, all contribute to a sequel which simply doesn’t compare in terms of the number of laughs one will probably get out of it.

For about the first half of the series, this isn’t too bad, though. It never stands up to the first season, but there are quite a few chuckles to be had, such as Kana’s attempts to turn Fujioka into a legendary banchou, which don’t quite work out, or Kana’s choice words to “heat up” the bathroom or Kana using perfect timing to manipulate Touma into buying more chocolate… now that I think about it Kana is usually involved in a lot of the funnier moments. When it isn’t Kana creating the laughs, it’s Hosaka, whose mere presence is just about enough to get me in stitches. Even with his limited screentime, he’s far and away this show’s funniest character, and a lot of credit has to go to his seiyuu, Ono Daisuke, who succeeds at making him both convincingly creepy but oh so hilarious.

Episode 9 is probably the funniest of the series, if only for the way Kana completely emasculates Makoto, but other than that, the second half of the series is a fizzer as far as comedy is concerned. This is probably where the difference between this and the original are the most apparent, and when elements like Fuyuki and a subplot about Haruka studying abroad come to prominence, it becomes clear that Okawari, as a slice-of-life comedy, is less concerned about the “comedy” part, and more concerned about the slice-of-life. The problem is that the slightly more serious stuff doesn’t really go anywhere. Fuyuki, as it is, is just a really sad onscreen presence for some reason, and for a comedy, he’s a real mood breaker. He’s a gagless character, but he’s also a depthless one, getting little character development before he very abruptly disappears. Haruka’s subplot is also similarly pointless, culminating in a very standard saccharine moment.

The style of humour is almost philosophically contemplative, and the comedy is seemingly designed to function in the absence of an obvious punchline, but the proof is in the Christmas cake that it isn’t really appropriate for something as basic as Minami-ke. The Bible Black faces are still around, but they’ve been upgraded and are no longer just intimidating, but also very disturbing. However, on the whole, asread’s animation is no where near as clean as Doumu’s effort, and, on the music front, the OP and ED sequences are just bizarre. The OP in particular is the epitome of “unrelated” and it’s so random that it’s bewildering. This is a subtly different show from its predecessor, so adjusting your expectations is a must, but even that doesn’t save it because the comedy is never quite as funny as the original, and the more serious parts of its slice-of-life are weak.

The Rating: 5

Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun

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