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Minami-ke

“This story is a simple illustration of the three sisters of the Minami household. Please do not expect too much out of it.” – Minami Chiaki

Minami-ke (Minami Household) is a slice-of-life anime. There’s no real plot, no significant drama, no outlandish elements; just a group of people going about their daily lives. Like many other slice-of-life shows, it’s humorous in nature, and realism is a secondary concern; what matters is that it’s fun to watch.

The primary characters are the three Minami sisters; high schooler Haruka, middle schooler Kana and primary schooler Chiaki. Haruka does most of the cooking and cleaning, and is effectively the mother figure of the group. Kana is an energetic idiot. Chiaki is a deadpan snarker. Their parents are nowhere to be seen; it’s vaguely implied that their father is either dead or just gone somewhere, and no mention is ever made of their mother.

The cast

Background, left to right: Haruka, Chiaki and Kana. The SD ones in the front are some of the supporting cast.

There’s broadly speaking four “settings” within the show; the sisters’ household and each of their schools/group of friends. Naturally there’s a lot of overlap when various friends of each of them drop by to visit. There’s also a fifth in the other Minami household; mostly male counterparts to the Minami sisters with similar ages, and the tomboyish girl Touma, who is a classmate of Chiaki’s. And no evidence of any parents there either.

The first series, simply titled Minami-ke, is definitely the best of the bunch. The second series, Minami-ke Okawari (Seconds) is the weakest of them, with a heavier amount of fanservice, very little from the original manga, and a complete absence of the Minami brothers.The third series, Minami-ke Okaeri (Welcome Back) gets back on track and is pretty good, but not as good as the first series. The fourth series, Minami-ke Tadaima (We’re Back) which is currently airing is better again, but still not quite as good as the first one.

So what’s so good about it? What makes a bunch of people going about their lives good viewing? Well, slice-of-life shows definitely aren’t going to suit everyone, but something that I’ve always really loved in works of fiction is interesting characters and good interactions between them. Minami-ke has quite a lot of interesting characters; notably some of the sisters’ male classmates, including Hosaka who has a crush on Haruka, lets his imagination run wild and unbuttons his shirt a lot, Fujioka who has a crush on Kana that she is incredibly oblivious to, and Makoto who likes hanging around the Minami household but got so far on Chiaki’s wrong side he has to crossdress to do so. The rest of the supporting cast aren’t quite as odd as those examples, but certainly all interesting enough.

Highly recommended for anyone fond of slice-of-life shows.