The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Sister Princess

Title: Sister Princess
Genre: Drama
Company: ZEXCS
Format: 26 episodes
Dates: 4 Apr 2001 – 26 Sep 2001

Synopsis: Minakami Wataru is a bright student on his way to a top high school. Unfortunately, he fails his entrance exam due to a computer glitch. He then discovers he has nonetheless been accepted to a little known academy at a place called Promised Island. On this island, Wataru meets a dozen young girls — all of whom claim to be his younger sisters! Wataru spends time with his newfound siblings and grows closer to them as he wonders why he was sent to this island  in the first place.

The Highlights:
Premise: Bar none the dumbest I’ve ever seen in any medium.
Sisters: Too many of them for any but a few to make an impact. Nearly all are cloying and annoying.
Wataru: Perhaps the King of Milquetoasts, and of course he is worshiped like a god by his younger sisters.
Visuals: An ugly, shoddily animated series, which is the death knell for a “cute girls doing cute things” show.
Plot: Doesn’t bother to have one until the end when an awful storyline is conjured out of nowhere.

Watching Sister Princess is like being put to sleep by a dentist and waking up to find he took a sledgehammer to your teeth. The mood and pacing are dull and placid to the point where one’s brain kicks into screen saver mode to save any energy that would go into watching and analyzing this tripe. Inevitably, however, something leaks through that instinctual protection and contaminates the mind. Brain cells are destroyed. Searing pain tears through the body. Terrible tragedies occur.

This anime is meaningless. Nothing of note happens, and what does occur brings no pleasure. There is no interesting tale to be told, nor are there fascinating characters to behold.  The question behind its conception: How do we give the viewer character variety, but also make sure that no work needs to be done to self-insert and fantasize about being One with the Moe? The answer, of course, is to populate Insert-kun with twelve younger sisters (and one fake!) who worship the ground upon which he walks, because he is Almighty Onii-chan.

What was perhaps unexpected, though, is that it takes a lot of work to characterize twelve girls. “How do we differentiate them in the laziest way possible?” one of the producers may have asked. Then someone came up with the bright idea to reduce each sister to her core: one or two personality traits and a stilted way of addressing Onii-chan.  One example is my most loathed of the sisters, Kaho. Her character is that she is 1) clumsy and 2) full of pep and vigor and always cheering on ol’ Onii-chan and falling on her face while doing so. She addresses Mr. Insert by calling him “Onii-chama” (or simply “Brother” in the English dub). As the sisters roll along, their traits are increasingly marginal and stupid (one speaks slowly, another is a detective, etc.), and the Insert-kun addresses more insane (ani-chama, Bro Bro, etc.).

“Now wait a minute,” you might say. “This all may be true, but does Sister Princess have the same goals as a regular narrative? Isn’t it simply presenting cute girls doing cute things?”

Well, Invisible Reader Invented for the Purposes of This Review, you have a valid point. The viewer of Sister Princess has clearly tossed taste out the window, so perhaps it is more wise to judge the series by the standard for which it is actually aiming. Fortunately for me, Sister Princess is also a colossal failure in this respect.

Take, say, K-On!. I am not a huge fan of the series, but even the most ardent critic would be hard-pressed to deny two basic things about it. It is a good-looking production — well-animated and mostly pleasing to the eye, and the characters are crafted carefully enough (both visually and personality-wise) that they could be called cute by a fair number of viewers. I believe this to be a fair standard by which to judge a series whose premise is “cute girls doing cute things.”

Allow me to put this rudely: When I went to the bathroom this morning, I crapped a better production than Sister Princess. It looks awful by any standard of animation. The character designs are OK, but put through the lens of this production, they are painfully ugly unless you have a thing for cross-eyed characters, Kanon chins and stilted walking animation. The “doing cute things” portion consists of Wataru helping his sisters with dull, repetitive activities like shopping and searching for teddy bears, with no trace of humor or anything particularly adorable. At one point, an entire 10 minute segment is spent shopping for a replacement light bulb. I am not joking.

Sister Princess is a terrible anime. It fails spectacularly at the one thing it sets out to do: present a cute, lighthearted world in which nothing painful occurs and younger sisters will always love you. The world and its denizens are certainly not cute, nor does it lack in pain. The only time the anime is actually adorable is when it attempts to have a plot at the end, and the result is predictably miserable. I almost felt like patting it on the head.

The Rating: 1

Reviewed by: Shinmaru

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