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「らしく、いきましょ」 (Rashiku, Ikimasho)
“Let’s be ourselves”

Minami-ke Tadaima is flexing its comic muscles in a big way after only two episodes.

No question about it, Minami-ke is really back. This material in the hands of staff who really understand it – the timing, the tone, the balance of different elements – is one of the true powerhouses of anime comedy (which is admittedly sometimes a pretty underpowered grouping). One of the major strengths of M-K is the deep and varied supporting cast, who form various orbits around the three sisters and sometimes cross over, usually with delightful results. This diversity allows the series to excel comedically in several different styles because each subset of the cast brings something different to the mix.

Just as loyalists of Minami-ke each seem to have favorites among the sisters, so it is with the supporting cast as well – and the spotlight this week fell on some of mine. First and best we have the irrepressible Makoto/-chan (Morinaga Rika), for my money the funniest take on the trap character in anime history. Then there’s the other Minami clan, the one with the Y-chromosomes – eldest brother Haruo (Kawada Shinji), second brother Natsuki (Hiroyuki Yoshino) – a classmate at Haruka’s – put-upon youngest brother Akira (Hayama Tatsuya) and finally, little sister Touma (Mizuki Nana). She might be the most butch of the lot of them, to the point where Chiaki refers to her as “my little brother”.

Seeing all these oddballs interact is part of the fun of Minami-ke. Each sister has their own subset of school chums, among which the three youngest Minami “B” clan members belong. Touma also belongs in her family subset, and she forms a small gender-bending subset with Mako-chan, which is usually aligned with Kana. Makoto is part of Chiaki’s school subset as himself, but also part of the Minami “A” household as Mako-chan, and both halves of his nature interact with Chiaki and her friends Yoshino and Uchida at different times. He also forms a small subset with “Plain Yogurt” Shuiichi (Ohara Momoko) as the male division of Chiaki’s elementary school set.

The reason both Makoto/-chan and Touma work so well as gender-bender characters, I think, is that both of their situations are so seamlessly integrated into the plot and they’re both so conflicted about their duality. Makoto tries hard to be a real man (“women’s clothing can no longer suppress his wildness as a man”) and is desperate to break out of the “trap” Kana laid for him. Yet he’s so damn good at being a girl – Chiaki laments that Makoto-kun “isn’t manly at all”, but marvels that Mako-chan is so ladylike, and wishes Kana would take a lesson from her (it’s also worth noting that Chiaki pointedly tells her friends she “doesn’t hate” Makoto, which for her is almost a confession). In addition to having a natural instinct at being a trap, Makoto’s ruse also allows him to be close to Haruka, on whom he has a hopeless if completely understandable crush – heck, it even got him to second base with her in Season 2.

Poor Mako-chan – even as he tries (for the 56th time – Kana’s counting) to save “what little masculinity I have” by taking off his hairpin and coming clean, Haruka pulls him back in again and he’s helpless to resist. For my money Makoto is the best supporting character in Minami-ke both because he’s hilarious and because there’s real pathos in his situation – he’s so earnest about every baka thing he gets himself immersed in. But Touma is a great character too, not to be underestimated. Her ruse is more selective – apart from Chiaki’s play-acting, it’s only Fujioka who actually thinks she’s a boy. Touma purports to keep scam going because it allows her to talk and practice soccer with Fujioka, but in truth it’s pretty obvious that she’s crushing on him just as hard as Chiaki is – as witness her reaction when Kana plays her “April Fool’s” joke and tells Fujioka she’s a girl. Poor Fujioka – if he were a lolicon, he’d have no relationship troubles at all, as he’s got the 6th-grade set helpless against his charms.

That whole April Fool’s gag is an example of how Minami-ke can extend it’s gags to the level of meta-humor successfully, and never more so then when the traps are involved. It’s also interesting to watch Kana interact with Touma and especially Makoto/-chan, because in that setting she’s almost mature and sensible – which is a cover, of course, for her scheming to keep both of them dancing like puppets at the end of her strings. That’s another thing that’s so fun about this show, and why when it’s “on” it never gets repetitive – all of the characters behave differently depending on the context in which we see them. It’s most obvious with Makoto but it extends to everyone in the cast, not excluding Kana’s two sisters. Haruka is a very different person interacting with her schoolmates (who we haven’t seen much of yet, indicating that this subset is likely to emerge next week) than she is at home, playing the den mother to her younger sisters and their large collection of friends.

Lastly, we had a welcome return to the spotlight for the male Minamis this week. They were almost totally absent from Season 3, and they were missed – their dynamic is yet another completely distinct facet of M-K’s rainbow of comedy. Akira is one I really feel for – his two older brothers, despite being idiots themselves, treat him with complete disdain and he barely seems to exist in their social structure. The older Minamis alternately dote on and confound Touma, as neither of them seem to understand the other in the slightest – despite Touma’s boyishness she’s still the only girl in a house full of men, and the strain often shows. It was interesting to see a different side of her this week, after the brothers challenged her to be more ladylike – going to Yoshino (not Uchida) for advice, which led her to Makoto (hilariously) then Chiaki. For tomboy Touma her sewing was “craft work”, but it turns out it was ladylike sewing all along – which makes her a big hit at the female Minami house.

There are still many elements of the recipe that haven’t emerged yet, starting with the uniqueness that is Hosaka. We also haven’t had any of the food porn that Minami-ke is legendary for, which is often connected to Hosaka (who intermingles with several other subsets, but more than anyone in the cast forms a set of one). Given how deep the well of humor that this series has to draw on is, those elements could still be weeks away – but there’ll be plenty to keep us amused in the meantime, even if that’s the case.

 

Preview

Minami ke Tadaima   02   Preview 01 Minami ke Tadaima   02   Preview 02 Minami ke Tadaima   02   Preview 03
January 13, 2013 at 11:32 pm
26 comments »
  • January 13, 2013 at 11:48 pmZhinvu

    This is probably a minority opinion but really one day I hope Kana finally notices Fujioka’s feelings for her, but I guess if that happens this won’t be Minami-ke anymore.

    • January 14, 2013 at 12:34 amLordip

      Kana getting hitch with Fujioka won’t be so epic. But if Hosaka get it with the Banchou, now that would be the WTF moment of the year!

      • January 14, 2013 at 2:30 amZhinvu

        Haruka and Housaka…that might very well shake the whole foundation of this manga.

      • January 16, 2013 at 12:44 amNekomimimeido

        As much as I like Hosaka, I’m on the ex delinquent Natsuki X “Banchou” Haruka Ship. They seem to fit together haha!

    • January 14, 2013 at 1:07 amchiaki

      yuri????

  • January 14, 2013 at 1:00 amjunglepenguin

    So here’s where we draw the line between being a fan and being a “true” fan (or maybe just being a stalker): Who noticed that Kana’s hair was tied lower before she even mentioned anything about being different?

    • January 14, 2013 at 1:01 amjunglepenguin

      And if you were wondering: Yes, I noticed the change with her hair almost instantly, and I feel somewhat proud of that fact.

    • January 14, 2013 at 2:02 amGuardian Enzo

      I bow before your Yander-ity. I didn’t notice whatsoever.

      • January 15, 2013 at 9:20 amcshin9

        I first thought her hair was longer. Then I noticed how it was tied.

    • January 14, 2013 at 2:27 amZhinvu

      Props to you noticing it immediately. I only noticed Kana’s new hairstyle a few seconds before she asked Mako-chan what was different about her. I was too focused on how Chiaki was going to react to a blue Fujioka.

    • January 14, 2013 at 3:19 pmAnnyms

      I didn’t notice it instantly, but one shot from the side of Kana made me notice a little into the scene.

    • January 15, 2013 at 10:26 amcshin9

      Yoshino’s hair is longer than in the first season too.

    • January 16, 2013 at 3:22 amRegalStar

      I immediately noticed something unusual is with her hair, but I couldn’t pinpoint it until the answer was revealed.

  • January 14, 2013 at 2:01 ambaseone

    Needs more “Konoyaro! Bakayaro!” from Chiaki

    Dang I feel ashamed by not noticing this after watching all of Minami-ke’s seasons

  • January 14, 2013 at 3:52 amName (required)

    i need more BAKAYAROU

  • January 14, 2013 at 4:07 amD

    I for one, missed Hosaka and was replaying this video for more times than healthy for my sanity. Thank god for yet another Minami-ke season.

  • January 14, 2013 at 8:00 amJ_the_Man

    Are all the Minami-Ke animes related to each other? Or are they all different?

  • January 14, 2013 at 8:49 amftw

    I think the star of this episode is actually Yoshino. I mean, she’s so innocently sneaky.

  • January 14, 2013 at 12:55 pmqwert

    I liked Kana’s subtle hairstyle change, would be nice if they tried to sneak it in a couple more times.

  • January 14, 2013 at 3:21 pmAnnyms

    So far this season has impressed me. This episode really brings me back to what I loved about the first season. I hope they can keep this quality throughout the season.

    • January 16, 2013 at 8:17 pmninjaugal

      its just me, or is there somebody feel it?
      in minamike season 1, 30 mnts = 1 hour.
      but in this season 4, 30 mnts = 15 mnts.

      (im sorry if my english is bad, because english is not my first language)

  • January 14, 2013 at 3:27 pmKoji

    Oh good minami-ke, how I’ve missed you. It’s like seasons 2 and 3 never existed.

    Seriously… I can’t even remember hardly anything from seasons 2 and 3…

  • January 14, 2013 at 4:07 pmAffy

    Aww… loved Kana hairstyle ♥

  • January 14, 2013 at 8:22 pmesquirek

    Trying to watch Minami-Ke raw :D! It’s got less jargon than other shows, and whatever happens still manages to bring a smile to my face.

    Reading your blog posts beforehand really helps to get a general idea of the episode before I delve into it all :)!

    Thanks again for blogging – This season really is shaping up to be freaking ace!

  • January 15, 2013 at 9:19 amcshin9

    As I was watching the other Minami family, I remembered the episode when Haruka talked to them over the phone in a low voice—and they thought she was a kidnapper asking a ransom for Touma.

  • January 15, 2013 at 5:25 pmNaiika

    Couldn’t stand season 2, didn’t even watch season 3 but I loved season 1. Hosaka is epic and my favorite character in the anime by far. I might watch this if it lives up to the first season.