OP Sequence

OP: 「Shiawase☆High Tension↑↑ 」 (Happiness High Tension) by (Rina Satou, Marina Inoue, and Minori Chihara)

「春のはじまり、南家のはじまり」(Haru no Hajimari, Minami-ke no Hajimari)
“Spring is Here, and so are the Minamis”

My God, it’s like being in 2007 again. Pinch me.

Does this mean Seirei no Moribito will be back in the Spring and Ghost Hound in the Fall?

A word of qualification before I begin: I love Minami-ke. The original season (with Ohta Masahiko directing) remains one of my favorite anime comedies of all-time. I even liked large sections of the second season – much-reviled by many – and even more of the third, slightly more well-regarded season. There’s just something about the dynamic of the characters and the writing that clicks with me, but even I’ll admit that the series only rarely re-captured the magic that propelled the first season from good to great. And studio and director changes have definitely taken their toll.

Well, we’re back – with yet another new studio, Feel, and director, Kawaguchi Keiichiro, both of whom I’d regard as entities with mixed track records. But Feel gave us an OVA (Minami-ke Omatase) last Fall and, while not spectacular, it was encouragingly on-point. So I had high hopes from Tadaima, especially after seeing the preview. And based on one episode, I’m thrilled. It all feels like Minami-ke again – the character designs are a nice hybrid of the first and third season (actually it’s the most manga-faithful of any incarnation of M-K in this regard), the writing is crisp, the timing spot-on. Minami-ke, based on this premiere, is back.

What’s most encouraging is that Feel managed to deliver an excellent and very funny opener without using any of its three best side characters, among the best supporting cast in anime: the tomboyish Minami Touma (no relation), the… well, whatever he is Hosoka, and the irresistibly irresistible sometimes-trap Makoto/Mako-chan. The watercolor palette, that background music, even the very faithful to the original OP – it was sheer delight to immerse myself in real Minami-ke again. As I’ve said many times comedy is a very personal thing, and very hard to blog on top of that – and Minami-ke is no exception. It’s a feeling as much as anything, relying less on traditional punchlines and more on its uniquely off-kilter sensibility that skewers the illusions of everyday life. Perhaps that’s why it was so hard for the adaptations to be consistent – you can’t just copy the words out of the manga, but rather capture the mood and rhythm of it. The first season managed to actually improve on the manga, which isn’t the most natural fit for an anime – and that was elusive in Okawari and Okaeri.

I’m going to assume that you know the basics of the premise and dispense with overlong explanations. Of course it’s the story of three sisters (don’t expect too much) and everyone has their favorite: the youngest, precociously childish Chiaki (Chihara Minori), tsun to the world and dere to Haruka (Satou Rina), the eldest – a latent banchou and overall Goddess. And then there’s my favorite, the middle-child Kana (Inoue Marina), one of the all-time great baka in anime history. Like a cat, she’s smart enough to think her way into trouble but usually not out of it (a “genius who plays dumb?” Well…). All three seiyuu are spectacular here, and hearing them again is like welcoming old friends into the house – and it’s the dynamic between the three sisters that drives most of the comedy and occasional sentimentality of M-K. But the series also includes one of the all-time great supporting casts, not just the three standouts mentioned above but a core group in every sister’s circle that all have something unique to add to the comedy stew that is Minami-ke.

We got a pretty traditional four-chapter episode here, and with it a new character to the anime – Miyuki (Nanjou Yoshino) an elfin middle-school classmate of Kana’s who contributes hilarity in a chapter where Kana uses her cuteness to wrest study aid from brainy friend Keiko (Gotou Saori) – naturally, it doesn’t help, and Kana is back to posting test scores that comment on the frailty of humanity. Other highlights include Kana scheming to get Haruka out from under the kotatsu – prompting a classic Chiaki reaction of “You needed my help for that?” (astonished reactions to Kana’s baka-hood are a staple of the Chiaki catalogue) – not realizing that it was Haruka pulling a scheme on her, and yet another frustrating near-miss for Kana’s love-struck classmate Fujioka (Kakihara Tetsuya). Not even a helpful shrine Omikuji could connect the circuits in Kana’s brain, though she did consider it, as Fujioka foiled himself with prior dispatch. Ironically he could have a Minami sister of his own whenever he wanted, as Chiaki has hopelessly crushed on him since they met – even naming her teddy after him – but age-inappropriate crushes involving the sisters and the supporting cast are a foundation stone of M-K. Chiaki’s angel-devil (the latter of which is disquietingly sexy) natures make another appearance as well.

It’s pretty hard to describe just what it is that makes Minami-ke so funny, and why the chemistry is so fragile. All of the ingredients have to be present and in harmony: there are certainly elements of physical comedy (a Makoto/-chan specialty), situation comedy and misunderstandings, and wordplay (reflecting the Japanese passion for puns) along with a real sense of who the characters are. If any of the elements is misaligned the show can be amusing, but just doesn’t feel quite right – the mode of much of the second and some of the third season. But this premiere did feel just right to this Minami-ke fanatic, even in its “needs more Mako-chan” form, and feeling that way again about a show I love is a rare and special pleasure.


ED Sequence

ED: 「Kyūsekkin Lucky DAYS」 (Fast-Approaching Lucky Days) by (Rina Satou, Marina Inoue, and Minori Chihara)



  1. “This is just a plain depiction of the daily lives of the 3 Minami sisters.”
    “Please do not expect too much.”
    “Also, brighten your room and keep a distance of at least 3 meters from the TV.”

    Okaeri! Minami-ke! 😀

  2. Damn but that was good !

    The best part for me ? It is that I now have a perfectly legit reason to grab the previous seasons and watch them again (for the zillion-th time).

  3. I was so happy to hear about the fourth season of Minami-ke and the opening episode did not disappoint. This was so much like the first season I was almost in tears.

    This was the show that basically helped me expand my anime genre from just the typical shonen, mecha, action types. It remains one of my favorite anime comedies…actually, of any comedies out there.

    The Kana/Chiaki dynamic is something I just cannot get enough of. Looking forward to this season.

  4. At the risk of seemingly negative (I’m not at all, you may find if you care to read the rest), I’ll say that It’s safe to assume that this is a fanboy Enzo mode coverage we’d be seeing for this show’s coverage.

    Nothing wrong with that; why would there be? Let me repeat for those lazy brains who don’t read beyond 1st sentence before judging. Nothing wrong with that.

    It’s also safe to assume that he has made that point quite clear here -and that this will not be some objective clinical analysis of a show going forward (is it even possible for a pure comedy show to begin with? It’s mostly whether the gag works or not as the writers in the past who covered comedy shows duly noted). He’s clearly bringing some past bagage into this, which happens to be “fanboyness, aka. enthusiasm overload” and as long as it’s not pretending to be otherwise, I think we will all agree -most of us anyway- that this could be a blast for those who find this kind of gags funny.

    I find it generally hard to trash a pure comedy show and this one is no exception. Doesn’t anybody feel that way, too? It’s for all good and fun; no pretend angst, no nonsense. This is a very different animal than “drama pretending to be a pure comedy show” like sakurasou, Chuunibyou, and LB to name of a few from last season (or one might say, no, those are comedic dramas or dramas with comedic elements, to be nicer and that’s fine as well); this show is much closer to shows like azumanga daioh and nichijou in spirits, albeit even more slice-of-life feel to it. You won’t see overtly pseudo-angst, mean-sprited teenage blooding in this show, that’s for sure. I don’t even care much if those Irritating tropes that I find so objectionable in other genres stare right back at me in pure comedy shows. it’s either you get the jokes or not (or if the said jokes are your kind of cup of tea) when it comes to right to it. What’s there to trash? While I find Miname-ke type of clean & gentle PGish gags not as funny as, say more lewd, down and dirty, grittier kinds found in shows like Mitsudomoe at times, but nonetheless I have no complaint. No complaint at all.

    1. I share some sentiments, and I do feel that you might be taking things a little to seriously, but I mostly don’t care, about angst, tea or trash. I think we’re all here to celebrate the return of the Minami family. And you should too.

      1. Au contraire, junglepenguin. Didn’t I say just a pure comedy show is “for all good and fun” and basically defending the show pretty much all the way to future potential trolls/bashers? Where exactly am I being a little too serious?

        It seems like you didn’t give a damn about anything I said (kudos for trying to put down my post by curtly summarizing with “angst, tea or trash”, btw, LOL!) and while that’s fine, but why do I feel like your tone seems like you’re tsk-tsking and disapproving me of violating something sacrilege, that is, your “celebrate the return of the Minami family”? I don’t get you, but then you didn’t get me, either; in that, we find the common ground. Ain’t that something?

      2. well, if anything, for other viewers: perhaps I was slightly overcerebral, a tad too long-winded, perhaps a wee bit too detached and objective on my initial approach to defend this show and other pure comedy shows in general, along with the clearly perceived writer’s enthusiasm (believe me, that could irritate some in some cases for whatever’s worth) when I should have just said, “OMFG, Kena is back~~!! Fuck yeah!” like many others… Yep, that could’ve worked, too.

      3. I got you, or at least I think I did. I’m quite sure you didn’t get me, because my first line didn’t seem to mean much to you. With the number of comparisons you’ve drawn and points you’ve made, I’d say Enzo’s post seems less serious than yours.

        I didn’t mean to come across as disapproving. I just thought that you sounded overly-concerned with issues that just don’t seem like issues we need to care about. Besides, who trolls about a series like this? Who’s likely to feel bothered by such a thing? Who’s gonna fault Enzo for going fanboy nuts over anything about this series? Ah, heck. What I meant to say was “stop thinking and just have fun”. That was what you wanted too, wasn’t it? If writing that post of yours was fun for you, then good for you.

  5. Watching this, I was remembering watching the first episode of the first season back when it was airing, when Marina Inoue was still a newbie fresh off her first her first big role in TTGL. As Enzo so rightly notes, that was in 2007.

    Fuck me I’m getting old! (For an anime watcher)

  6. 2007 feels like it happened many ages ago…Well this 1st ep was pretty good! Looking forward to more episodes!

    And I know that feeling Kana, doing worse on another test by a small difference…gah it burns.
    It’s great to have the Minami sisters back, oh how I’ve missed them!

  7. God damn it Haruka-neesama, you will forever be my bias <3.

    p.s. I find it fantastic that you're so enthusiastic about the series as you blog it :)! It injects a whole lot into your post and makes it thoroughly enjoyable to read.


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