Title: Minami-ke aka The Minami Family
Company: Doumo/Starchild Records
Format: 13 episodes
Dates: 8 Oct 2007 – 31 Dec 2007
Synopsis: The Minami family consists of three sisters: Haruka, Kana and Chiaki. Haruka is in high school, Kana is in middle school, while Chiaki is in elementary school. The three sisters live a fairly normal life together… even if they don’t always get along.
Comedy: Funny… what more needs to be said?
Characters: Comedy works because of character interactions; Kana is humourously manipulative.
Character art: Seemingly inspired by Bible Black.
Parodies: Someone give a prize to whoever came up with “Sensei and Ninomiya-kun”!
Minami-ke is a slice-of-life moé comedy and there isn’t really all that much more to it. There’s enough of these floating around these days for most viewers to know what the genre is all about, and there’s nothing revolutionary about Minami-ke’s approach to anything. But it’s funny. And, ultimately, what more does a comedy need to be? I wouldn’t say this is as consistently funny as Azumanga Daioh, or as self-aware as Ouran High School Host Club or as socially satirical as Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei… but it is a million times funnier than Lucky Star, that’s for sure.
The best comparison is Ichigo Mashimaro. Much like that, this series works because of character interactions and chemistry. Each character has a way of dealing with the other characters around them, and each of them, particularly Kana and Chiaki, are constantly probing their peers for weaknesses to get an upper hand and take advantage of those around them (usually for little reason more than their own entertainment… and obviously the entertainment of the audience). It’s almost dog-eat-dog in a Seinfeld-ish kind of way. The difference between this and Ichigo Mashimaro is that almost all of this happens on a two-way street, and every character, including Kana, gets their comeuppance when their not careful. Ichigo Mashimaro only had one dominant character, while Minami-ke has a whole cast.
There’s a certain comedic structure to a lot of the episodes that tends to work more often than not. The delivery is rarely about single one-off jokes, but rather a central episodic theme that is played around with for the duration of the episode. The comic momentum continually builds as the episode progresses, which keeps things humourous, even in the absence of an obvious punch line. Not that it always works… a few of the middle episodes aren’t all that funny, while certain characters, like Hosaka, threaten to be a lot funnier than they end up. The way this show uses traps, though, is hilarious. Traps in anime have become such a cliché, but Minami-ke puts them to good use. On that note Minami-ke takes an interesting approach to fanservice, in that it’s subtle… relatively speaking, because Code Geass is similarly subtle when you compare it to Gurren-Lagann.
Minami-ke’s aesthetic style is an interesting one. The animation is stock standard, but the character designs are strange, with lots of cleft lips and the occasional lapse into an art style that could have been inspired by Bible Black, accompanied by dialogue that could have been inspired by Death Note. The series also has quite a few references, but they’re never intrusive or overbearing, which makes them easy to laugh at (keep an eye out for the video game parody). It also sets up an in-universe soap opera called “Sensei and Ninomiya-kun” which serves as an absolutely brilliant back-hand of TV dramas, among other things.
As is typical with all slice-of-life comedies, one needs to “get” the type of humour early on, since, if you don’t, there’s no real point in pushing forward with it. This is an ultimately inconsequential anime, and it makes no real attempts to push boundaries or be meaningful in any way, but damn did I laugh hard while watching it.
The Rating: 7
Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun