Minami-ke Okaeri – 12
Mouse over screenshots for captions
Part 1: Dealing with a Diva
Chiaki’s nap is interrupted by a trio of laughing schoolgirls, bantering about how interesting their life is. Frankly I’m surprised by how much napping is done in this show, given the high-pressure lifestyle in Japan. But hey, it’s anime – if people can sleep all day and still get paid on Planet Aqua, who’s to say they can’t do it in Japan. Anyways, Chiaki gets annoyed and tells them to stfu, which kinda doesn’t make sense considering she has a room, and a bed, and all the other amenities involved with sleeping. Ever try sleeping on a hard surface? It sucks… dunno how some people do it. Maybe cuz they’ve never slept in a real bed before.
Kana sends her preliminary negotiator Uchida to deal with the crisis, and a scared shitless Uchida is KO’d in seconds, rendering her a pile of spastic mess that I’d like to do all kinds of things to on the floor. Maki is next, and is dispatched even quicker. Time for the varsity – Kana uses some deft reverse psychology maneuvering and even more impressive MMA moves to a hard-won victory.
Part 2: Beauty Sleep
Maki comes in with an interesting proposition: she wants Kana to watch her sleep. Some time ago during a school camping trip, a bunch of her roomies laughed at her while she was sleeping, so maybe she was making funny faces? Uchida starts getting insecure too, and wants to try it out too. Only one way to find out…
So flash to the next scene where we got quite a nice view of Maki and Uchida (incidentally, my two fav girls in this show) snoozing away. Kana sees opportunity, and does some artwork on their faces with one of those fatty permanent markers. Well, that is some pretty funny shit, so they start bustin up laughing, which more or less confirms Maki’s suspicions.
Part 3: Natsuki, you lucky bastard…
Chiaki is fixing buttons on some shirts, when Kana notices Haruka’s uniform on the ground. This conjures up all sorts of images, like what Haruka is currently wearing (or not wearing), and that scene from Haruhi where Kyon is picking up Mikuru’s underwear and he mentions that they’re still warm from body heat. Anyways, the skirt somehow ends up on the table, and it somehow gets cut right down the middle of the front side. After a quick struggle where SUPREME QUALITY in animation is attained, Chiaki institutes a quick fix, and life goes on.
The next week at school, after some uninspired Hosaka sightings (seemingly for the sake of just having Hosaka make an appearance in the episode), Maki notices a little thread hanging off of Haruka’s skirt. Like every curious kitten, she gives it a little tug, and whoop, there goes the whole skirt. Lucky bastard Natsuki just happened to be standing right in front…
Part 4: Kana Fights Back
After a quick passing comment of bakayarou, Kana flips – she’s had enough of Chiaki’s shit! Chiaki tries to cover by saying that calling bakayarou is a compliment – like you’re a genius and all that nice stuff – a quick fistfight ensues which sends Kana to the safety of the bathroom.
Kana schemes her next attack, which seems to be the “be a great big sister to Chiaki” plan, including the “here, have my croquette” and the “lemme wash your back” and finally, the “come to bed so I can read you a bedtime story” attack. Quite effective, as Chiaki is completely defeated….
Well, that was quite an interesting episode, to say the least, and very little of it had to do with the actual stories. It’s pretty obvious even from the screenshots above that the first part of the episode (screens 1-18) was done by a different, and vastly superior studio to the second part (19-33). This happens quite frequently in anime between different episodes, as we’ve seen in Gurren Lagann, Naruto, etc, but to see a change in one episode? And to see such a massive disparity was, well, so tragic it was hilarious.
Such has been the sentiment for this entire season, a sort of throwaway experience for me that had me trying to focus on the humor, but constantly distracted by just how freakin’ badly it was drawn. As I mentioned in the previous episode’s comments, the advantages of an anime over the manga is that it adds movement and voices, but if the art can’t be nailed, we might as well be listening to a drama CD while reading the manga. I know I’m picky and I know many of you are able to overlook the glaring deficiencies and just enjoy it for what it is – and I envy you – but ah man, Okaeri was just such a tragedy for me.
At the same time, productions such as this really shine a bright light on those shows that do nail all the necessary aspects of an anime, and really add something extra to the original source material, whether it be manga, game, light novel, live action drama, Shakespearean romance, etc. After all, that’s why we love anime, right?
And with the conclusion of Okaeri, I do wonder if there was even a plan to bring it back for another season. I think they’ve milked the franchise for all it’s worth, and from the standpoint of a fan, while I still cherish the series and its characters, I think it’s probably better that they shelve this and just move on. As Chiaki put it in the first season – “don’t expect too much from this” – perhaps she was talking about Okaeri?
edit: Wow, it’s not over yet?! Couldn’t wait for this show to be over, but I guess there’s one more episode. See you next week…