Minami-ke Okaeri – 01
Part 1: New Year’s
Haruka and Chiaki finish up putting on their kimonos for the New Year visit to the shrine, while Kana sleeps in. The three girls arrive at the shrine and greet Uchida, who apparently thinks that this is a festival and has loaded her arms with snacks and shopping. Everyone pulls a fortune (Omikuji), including Hosaka-senpai. Uchida spent all her money so she borrowed 100 yen from Kana to buy hers, which turns out to be extremely good. Back at home, Uchida giggles over her good fortune, and tells everyone she’s going to meet her true love soon. While Uchida waits, expecting her true love to show up any minute, the doorbell rings. It turns out to be Fujioka, so Chiaki drags him forcefully to the kotatsu and sits in his lap. She also reminds Uchida to return the 100 yen she borrowed from Kana. In order to extend her good fortune’s time window for love, Uchida tries to run away but gives up in the end and pays Kana back. It seems love is driven by money anyway.
((OP inserted here – Weird timing. It wasn’t bad for a seiyuu song, but not particularly special. If it’s merely forgettable instead of annoying, I’d say that’s a plus. By far the best part about it for me was seeing a half second flash of the Minami brothers – Three characters introduced in Season 1 who were completely taken out of Season 2, much to my dismay. I thought Season 1 did a good job with continuity and character development for a show which is substantially slice of life and plot-free. So when they took away the boys, I was pretty sad.))
Part 2: Cup-Yakisoba Phenomenon
Chiaki explains to Touma that wanting to eat yakisoba and wanting to eat cup-yakisoba are two totally different things. She names this theory “cup-yakisoba phenomenon.” She also explains how this theory relates to her bear, Fujioka. (Takeru – their “uncle” – is sitting at the kotatsu and talking about his horribly depressing job with the teddy bear.) Touma receives some strict sibling punishment from Chiaki when her theory proves to be a little difficult to grasp. Haruka and Kana arrive home to greet everyone. Kana manages to reinforce Takeru’s usual depression, but Haruka cheers him up with some tea. Kana points out that the tea she prepared is expired (and as such, not “new tea leaves”). A light goes off in Touma’s head, so she and Chiaki suddenly shout “cup-yakisoba phenomenon!” simultaneously at Kana, and leave her pretty confused.
Part 3: O-miai
Chiaki’s school nurse wants to stop by for a house visit to speak with Chiaki’s guardian, so Haruka asks Takeru to speak on her behalf, despite Chiaki’s harsh claims that he has nothing to do with her. When her teacher comes over, things get off to an oddly giggle-filled start with the three of them sitting around the kotatsu. Suffice it to say, Chiaki wasn’t giggling. Kana whispers to Chiaki from across the room that this must be an O-miai – a kind of set-up meeting for an engagement to get married, usually. Fujioka drops by and Chiaki’s teacher talks happily with him as well, at least until Takeru lands a death stare at Fujioka for interrupting his conversation. Kana appears in the doorway again with a new snack, confirming her suspicions that this is an O-miai. Chiaki begs her teacher to get to the point, who seems to have forgotten exactly what it was she came here for. She pulls out the results of Chiaki’s physical examination and hands them to a confused Takeru, and begins talking about Chiaki’s eating habits. Chiaki doesn’t react well to this inanity.
((ED inserted here – More weird timing. Again, pretty simple and not particularly annoying, which was good. The ending animation was blue-sky filled and each girl played around and showed off their beach-wear – Haruka’s was particularly surprising.))
Part 4: How to find a lost item
Chiaki searches high and low for her Fujioka bear, so Takeru promises to help her find it. He pulls out a pen and stands it upright in the middle of the table, and tells Chiaki that her missing item will be found in the direction that the pen points when it lands. He drops it and it lands pointing toward the kitchen door, so Chiaki enters the room and finds her bear in a pot on the stove. She blames Kana since she’s the only person in the household who would do something that cruel. Amazed by the success of the pen-drop method, Haruka asks Takeru if he can help her find an embarrassing missing item, although she says it’s technically not a big deal. He drops the pen again and it points towards the veranda, but only Haruka realizes that it’s actually pointing towards Kana, who stole her missing item – which turns out to be an expensive cup of ice cream she had bought and left in the freezer. Kana gives it a try and asks Takeru to drop the pen in order to find her an amazing dream guy candidate. Takeru releases the pen but it stands completely upright instead of falling over. Thinking it’s broken (or her dream guy is in heaven already…), Kana knocks the pen over herself right before the doorbell rings. She gets up to answer it while everyone else stares at the pen, which incidentally is pointing directly to the front door. Fujioka returns with the shopping that he promised to buy. Only Kana seems oblivious to the suggestion that Fujioka is her dream guy candidate while everyone else looks on in amusement from behind.
At the shrine, Hosaka asks to buy one more fortune (which turns out to be very bad – ( 絶対にダメ！) *again* – but the owner would like to close for the day and politely sends him home. Nearby, you can see Hosaka has already purchased quite a bundle, and tied them all up together. He’ll return tomorrow to buy more, until he gets the fortune that will bring Haruka into his life. Super creepy as usual.
Most of you probably immediately noticed the big character design difference. At first it feels a bit weird, but by the end of the episode your eyes will have adjusted, mostly for the better, I think. There are only one or two characters who I feel give off a weird vibe, but I’m sure I’ll get over it. It seems like they tried really hard to reconcile Season 1 and Season 2 and came out with something not quite entirely different, but pleasant. I liked the animation for sleepy-head Kana. Her hair was a nice touch.
I also couldn’t help but notice Fujioka was wearing one of the jackets which are super popular in Japan right now, with the fur around the collar. The only thing it’s missing is the puff-fabric that’s shiny. Oh, and maybe if it were black, or even better – bright aqua blue. Oh well, there’s always next year. A new year for new fads! Also, Kana stabbing the mikan with her thumb made me have a weird craving, so I had to go buy some…
They did an exceptional job at very quickly reintroducing all the characters, so first time viewers fear not – this is an easy to digest show and they generally make sure to cover all the basic premises in the first episode of sequels anyway. I think they presented each character’s personality traits pretty well in a very short time. You’re supposed to get a good glimpse at each of the sister’s personalities, and refresh yourself with (or get to know) a few side characters as well. I think Fujioka’s character got a good presentation, even if he didn’t actually say much. It’s still pretty clear that he likes Kana, and that she’s oblivious as ever. (Chiaki’s relationship with him is dubious, though.) I like his character design loads better than last season’s. I think they could have made Hosaka even more creepy, but it wasn’t a failure by any means. And his fortunes were hilarious…
This first episode left me pretty pleased, and it really reinforced my idea that Minaimi-ke is a really relaxed, easy to follow slice of life comedy, so I’ll be following this for the rest of the season. I’m a huge Kana fan, and I really like Natsuki (Minami bro.) too, so I hope he gets his fair share of screen time this season. I liked that the first episode was in tune with reality time-wise, and was topically about the new year. I just got back from my first shrine visit as well, so it was all very “nostalgic,” if it’s possible to be nostalgic about something you did only one week ago. On that note, Happy New Year! I’m looking forward to the rest of the season!