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A Pretentious Anime Review: Minami-ke (Seasons 1-4)
What's Minami-ke About?
Minami-ke portrays a simple story of the everyday lives of the three Minami sisters. It's a typical slice of life depicting the common occurrences of an ordinary Japanese family, and there isn't much to the premise besides from that. The creators understand this perfectly well, which is why the "This story a simple depiction of the lives of the three Minami sisters, please don't expect much out of it" warning pops up before every episode. It's meant to be simple, so, don't go in hoping for anything extravagant or spectacular.
Minami-ke starts out as a pretty cute slice of life that doesn't necessarily try to be a laugh out loud comedy, (although there are pretty some funny moments) instead, it attempts to simulate a particularly soothing experience. Minami-ke never really gives up on this calming atmosphere, but, at some point it confuses its desire for tranquility with a need for overbearing drama, and not only is this drama poorly executed, but, it's never even resolved. Fortunately, this dramatic approach is completely extinguished by the third and fourth season, and although those seasons never really manage to reach the quality of the first, both still remain entertaining enough to be amusing.
Since Minami-ke is spread out into four different seasons, I'm going to review each one individually, especially because all four are drastically different from each other.
The first season of Minami-ke is certainly the highlight of the series; it's cute, funny, semi-original and relatively soothing. The show gets most of its charm from its wonderful cast of characters. Each one is surprisingly unique and although their actions are a bit predictable, their explosive personalities manage to successfully alleviate this weakness. Almost all of the characters were built in a way that allows the viewer to understand their personalities rather quickly. This is how we start to notice that these characters tend to act in very fixed ways throughout the seasons. This is the "predictable" part I had mentioned earlier; each character follows a determined formula and rarely strays away from that formula. With something so predictable, it might seem hard to give these characters any credit, however, it's easy to forgive this show simply because this "formula" is a pretty good one. The characters have ridiculously entertaining personalities, so, it comes to a point where no matter how much you see them, they never really get old. This doesn't necessarily justify the flaw, it simply makes this flaw less concerning. However, this is a very subjective statement. If one does not find the cast to be entertaining, the repetitive actions and reactions of said characters might get old pretty quick.
The best thing I can compare this to is the everyday interactions we have with other people. Our style of comedy, preferences, hobbies, desires, actions, and our ways of conveying emotions don't really change drastically unless a decently long time has passed. People tend to do similar things everyday, laugh at similar things everyday, and talk about similar topics everyday. If you're on the lookout for friends, it's common sense to find people who suit your formula. You want your personality, your comedy, and your tastes to resonate in a friendship, not antagonize each other. Once you have acquired these friends, daily interactions with them might start to seem repetitive. The specifics might change but the situation remains similar on a day to day basis. This is what I mean, it might be repetitive but you enjoy it, regardless of how often you meet up, hang out, or talk.
That's the simplest analogy I can make. The characters do very repetitive things and act in very repetitive ways, (although the scenarios change) so, if you don't find it suitable to your tastes the first time, it most likely won't be any times afterwards.
Minami-ke also does an admirable job of building its atmosphere. After four seasons and three OVA's, the Minami household sort of feels like home. This could easily be attributed to the fact that they're always in said home, so, it's bound to grow on you after watching 55 episodes, but, the fact that it still managed to provide such a nostalgic feeling so quickly after finishing it is definitely something worth mentioning.
However, if there's something definitely worth mentioning, it has to be how adorable this series is. Minami-ke is full of silly children doing silly things, and because of these silly things, silly situations arise out of their silly actions. The point I'm trying to make here is that this series is very silly, which in turn, provides us with a decently present "cute factor". This cute factor can be compared to the feeling you get when you look at a puppy or a kitty, it's the very "innocent" kind.
Minami-ke is a cute and silly show full of characters brimming with life, regardless of how repetitive they can be. Overall, the show is definitely worth a watch for Slice of Life fans, but, if you don't happen to be interested this genre, this show most certainly isn't going to change your mind. It's the simple day by day experiences of an ordinary family, it most certainly won't show you a new side of the genre.
I give Minami-ke a 6 out of 10
Here we go...
As much as I enjoyed the first season, the second season made me furious. The mood in Minami-ke Okawari changes entirely, it goes from a soothing comedy to an attempt at calming you with some retarded side drama.
First, lets talk about what had stayed the same. Overall, the characters themselves were pretty similar besides from them being less hyper and less energetic. Not only that, but it still had some pretty heartfelt cutesy moments. A small "problem" is that the art style changed drastically, it felt a bit unfamiliar and at first I was disgusted, but, I was able to (thankfully) get used to it. This sudden change in art style went down due to the change of studios, which is pretty upsetting since this studio makes a large series of mistakes. What mistakes? Well...
A new character is introduced into the series... Fuyuki. Let me say that this character is exclusive to the anime, and he is the biggest piece of shit ever. This character is not canon in the slightest, he never appears in the manga and never plays a single role of significance. He's literally there for the sole purpose of dampening the mood. Throughout the course of all of these episodes, I was waiting for the drama with him to resolve. For Chiaki to force Fuyuki to break out of his shell of loneliness in a cute moment of friendship and for Fuyuki to become a happy person. Due to the large series of dramatic episodes depicting Fuyuki's "sad" life, we all expected for his character to finish developing and for him to finally get a nice and satisfying resolution. However, Asread (like the idiots they are) decide to actually abandon him. During episode 12, he literally leaves the show. It was like they just fired him from set. His character wasn't given the slightest acceptable conclusion and he is never mentioned again through the span of the next two seasons.
This is a huge problem, this character had a giant impact on the Minami sisters no matter how you look at it. From the way I see it, Asread just wanted to forget about the shitty character they conjured up and decided to get rid of him. Okay, I understand that Asread; you made a mistake and you wanna make up on that mistake, but, abandoning him without a conclusion? For real? All you needed to do was give him some sort of decent ending and THEN he can leave. Not just decide "oh he's gone now because we wanted him gone LMAO".
Fuck you, Asread.
I give Minami-ke Okawari a 3 out of 10
Asread continues with the third season of Minami-ke, and doesn't do anything stupid this time. Surprising, right?
Anyway, Minami-ke Okaeri is a pretty big improvement from season 2. It's not a drag to watch and it tries its best to return to its fun and cheery roots, it doesn't succeed significantly at returning to its former glory but it still manages to do a pretty okay job at being fun to watch.
There isn't really much to say about Okaeri that hasn't been said about the original series. The only notable thing might be that it can't return to the quality of the original due to the fact that it doesn't really try too many original things. It sometimes tries to create original scenarios but only out of facts that were already present. It never creates new facts about characters to allow for more interesting situations. This isn't that big of a problem, but it feels underwhelming when compared to the original which kept introducing new sides to characters to make it constantly feel fresh.
Overall, Minami-ke Okaeri does manage to rise above the retarded second season but never really manages to reach the quality of the first. Which is disappointing, but, it's to be expected.
I give Minami-ke Okaeri a 5 out of 10
Minami-ke Tadaima seems like the perfect successor to match the quality of the original... almost.
The biggest problem I have with Tadaima is the fact that it starts to feel awfully unoriginal. I mentioned the repetitive character actions and reactions but this is something completely different. It feels like a lot of the scenarios in this series are repeats from earlier seasons. The situations change slightly to make it appear as if it's different, but I often found myself asking "haven't I seen this already?". There are a lot of original moments, don't get me wrong. The problem here is that certain episodes gave me serious déjà vu. It might be because this is a slice of life and life does have pretty repetitive moments, but, through my experience with multiple slice of life anime, this was never a problem. This wasn't a one time occurrence, either. I felt this throughout numerous occasions.
Besides from that, Tadaima is just like Minami-ke in every way. The art style is back, the characters are as energetic as usual and the scenarios feel very Minami-ke-esque. It does a good job at making you feel at home and it presents a large selection of new character traits to make it seem more original than before. Overall, Minami-ke Tadaima is a solid return to the series and I genuinely hope a fifth season is made. After binge watching all four seasons, it didn't take anymore than an hour for me to miss the show. In other words, I desire more.
I give Minami-ke Tadaima a 5 out of 10
What do you think of Minami-ke?
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