Minami-ke Okaeri


Since it’s the Christmas season I’m choosing the Christmas episode from the Minami-ke Okaeri series for my six post in the “12 moments of anime 2009” series.

      Tis the season to be jolly, so what better way to spend Christmas then to spend a Christmas evening in the kids’ paradise that is the Minami-ke household. The Minami sister’s parents are overseas for work, and the only “adult” supervision the girls recieve is an occasional visit from their uncle who drops off their living expenses and drives them to the beach or to an onsen. So, the sister must content themselves with daily school life and the company of good friends who have become their family.

        The one thing that I’ve always liked about the Minami sisters and their friends is that there’s not a bad person amongst them, and while they may at times tease or needle each other for the most part they enjoy their mutal frienships. So, as Christmas day approaches share a toast with Haruka, Kana, Chiaki, Mako-chan, Uchida, Touma, and Yoshino to good friends. The only thing missing from this garden of flowers is me sitting next Uchida, Merry Christmas.

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     This episode begins with Chiaki and Haruka sitting at the Kotatsu when Chiaki notices that something is wrong with Haruka. As soon as Kana gets home Chiaki expresses her concerns to her, Kana tells her that she’s worrying too much, and she even tells Chiaki that sometimes Haruka might be worried about something so don’t make it worse. That night, Chiaki wakes Kana up with her worries and Kana again just blows it off. The next morning Haruka still seems down in the dumps and Kana also begins to wonder what’s up with Haruka, Kana and Chiaki agree to talk about this after school.

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     So, Kana meets with Chiaki after school, and they seem to have a long conversation at a park bench. Meanwhile at the Minami household, Yoshino and Uchida are having tea with Haruka when Uchida notices that something is wrong with Haruka so she asks her about it. Haruka tells them that she has a toothache, but she also has another problem, lately Kana and Chiaki have been acting strangely around her.

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      Haruka asks Uchida and Yoshino if they’ve heard anything from Chiaki? No. But, Yoshino suggests that Haruka should make them laugh by making funny faces, she proceeds to pull Uchida’s face in a funny manner and Haruka begins to laugh loudly. At that very moment Kana and Chiaki get home, and Chiaki begins to cry saying that Harukahas grown tired of them and wants sisters like Yoshino and Uchida. Kana says no-way, it’s just because they’re making funny faces, and she goes in and joins them. Soon everyone is laughing out loud, Chiaki is laughing even though she’s still in tears and she doesn’t really know why they’re laughing.

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      That night we see Chiaki waking up from a horrible dream, she gets out of bed and checks on Kana, and she climbs into bed with Kana. The next morning Kana awakens to find Chiaki sleeping next to her. When Kana enters the kitchen Haruka notices that Chiaki is clinging to Kana, and when she asks whats up, Kana tells her that Chiaki had a dream where she went shopping and never returned.

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        While they’re eating breakfast Chiaki continues to cling to Kana and she even asks Kana to feed her, Kana asks Haruka if she’s got anything to say about this? It’s OK for this to happen once in a while, it just shows how close you are to each other. Soon, Haruka leaves to do some shopping with Maki and Atsuko, and Chiaki continues to cling on Kana. After a while, Kana gets bored with Chiaki’s clinging and manages to break free from her, Kana says that she’s tired and lays down to take a nap, and a moment later Chiaki snuggles down next to Kana for a nap (how cute). When Chiaki awakens she finds Kana sitting at the Kotatsu, so she goes back to clinging, but somethings wrong with Kana. When Haruka returns home she sees that Chiaki is still clinging to Kana, but a second later Kana rushes to Haruka and starts hugging her with Chiaki following right behind, it seems that Kana had a dream that Haruka went to the bathroom and never returned.

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     The next skit involves Uchida and Yoshino stopping by the Minami apartment so they can get Kana to write her Tanabata wish  out so they can place it with theirs. A few minutes later, Haruka sends Kana off to do some shopping, Kana wants to buy sweets but Haruka tells her to only buy the basics. As the hours pass, Kana hasn’t returned home yet and Haruka starts to worry, but Chiaki says that she just probably doing something stupid, Kana being Kana. Then Chiaki sees that Kana left a Tanabata strip by her Kotatsu cushion, and it says that they no longer need her so she’s going to disappear. They wonder if it is a suicide note but Haruka says “no way”, then Chiaki says that it’s Kana after all, and Haruka wonders if she should have just let Kana buy the sweets? Chiaki wonders if it was her fault because she was mean to Kana in the other episode and she thinks back to the times when Kana was really nice to her. Haruka kind of breaks down for a second or two then she tells Chiaki that she’ll go look for Kana while Chiaki goes to buy the sweets, and just as their about to leave Kana returns home saying that it took a really long time because everywhere she went she only found old milk.

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      So, the next night we Haruka, Kana, Chiaki, Fujioka, Touma, Mako-chan, Yoshino, and Uchida all gathered around the Kotatsu, Kana tells Haruka and Chiaki that she’s sorry about the misunderstanding about the note, and they soon get a Tanabata  party going. A little while later they all end up on the balcony looking up at the stars and joking around about Tanabata, and they have a good old time. The episode ends with a montage of scenes showing how nothing has really changed, Riko stills pines for Fujioka while he only has eyes for Kana, and so forth. The last clip in this series is of Hosaka waking up from a horrible dream where Hauka went away and never came back.

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     Well, I really enjoyed the way that Minami-ke Okaeri finished up it’s run. This series has always been about the importance of family and friends, and this episode really hit on this topic hard. Most of this episode was about how much Haruka, Kana, and Chiaki mean to each other, even though they sometimes get on each others nerves they really love and cherish one another. The last skit summed up the entire series, Haruka, Kana, and Chiaki enjoying a holiday party with their good friends.

     In the end, I like to think of the Minami-ke franchise as a slice of life show about the importance of  family, good friends, good food, and lots of laughs. I hope that they find some way to get another season out of this series, because after watching 39 episodes I find myself wanting more laughs from the Minami sisters and their silly friends.

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      This episode begins with Kana, Uchida, and Maki having a lot of fun and their noise wakes Chiaki from a nap, Chiaki attacks Kana with Fujioka. Kana asks Chiaki if she wants to fight? Yes. So, Kana pushes Uchida into face off with Chiaki for the first shouting match of the season, if Chiaki loses she has to leave the girls in peace, and if the girls lose they have to be quiet so Chiaki can sleep. Uchida quickly loses to Chiaki and tags off to Maki who also promptly loses. Then Kana has to go forward to battle Chiaki, their match seems to be a draw until Haruka enters the room with food, and Chiaki’s starts to lose her will to stay in place. As Chiaki rushes to the food Kana tackles her and proceeds to hold her down, Maki says that she thought this was a shouting match?

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         Then the next skit involves Maki asking Kana to watch her while she’s sleeping to see if anything funny is going on, it seems that back in her middle school days Maki woke up to find some girls laughing at her, so she wants to know whats going on. Soon, Uchida decides that she also wants Kana to watch her sleeping to see what she looks like (maybe a princess?). Once Maki and Uchida are sleeping Mako-chan asks Kana if they can also join the other girls for a nap? Kana says no, and pulls out a marker and proceeds to do some drawing on Uchida’s and Maki’s faces. After she finished, Mako-chan and Kana are laughing so hard that Maki wakes up to find Kana and Maki-chan laughing and says she knew it, and Chiaki notices that someone wrote princess on Uchida’s forehead. Later we see Haruka and Maki looking at a yearbook from their junior HS days and Kana notices that it’s always been easy to draw on Maki’s face.

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        The next day Kana and Chiaki are talking about upcoming uniform change day and Kana says that she wants to reinvent herself in a beautiful way with the uniform change. Kana asks Chiaki if she wants to join her in a change? No. Kana can’t believe that there’s not one thing that Chiaki would want to change about herself. While Chiaki is cutting down one of Kana’s shirts she accidentally cuts one of Haruka’s uniform skirts, after arguing about it for a while, Chiaki makes a emergency sewing repair on it. They decide to not tell Haruka about it because in about four days they can take it for a real repair.

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       Then we see that the next couple of school days for Haruka seems to go by very quietly, unless you count the appearance of Hosaka carrying a bento (for Haruka) which he is unable to (or scared to) give her. Then on the fourth day at school, Natsuki is thanking Haruka for caring for Touma when Maki notices a thread hanging from Haruka’s skirt. Maki pulls on the thread and Haruka’s uniform skirt goes sliding all the way to the floor, Natsuki’s epic win!

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       Then later on, Chiaki calls Kana a dumb-ass again, and Kana gets really pissed off and pushes Chiaki. Then Chiaki punches Kana in the face, and Kana complain that Chiaki’s become so violent. While Kana is the bathroom she decides that she has to save Chiaki before she becomes a delinquent.

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       So, Kana decides to be nicer and more caring towards Chiaki, asking her about school, offering her food, volunteering to wash her back. Haruka thinks that it’s quite nice, but Chiaki wonders if Kana is working on a plan to finish her off? When Chiaki leaves the bath she finds Kana waiting in her bed for her, Kana tells Chiaki to come over here and she’ll read her a story. Chiaki gets really scared and goes to Haruka’s bedroom and asks to sleep with her, saying that if she sleeps she’ll be eaten. Well, that’s all for this episode.

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       Well, with only one episode of Okaeri left the series seems to be swinging back to it’s roots. The Minami-ke franchise has always been about the relationship and interaction between the three Minami sisters. While we’ve been entertained by the interesting and odd characters that surround the sisters (Mako-chan, Touma, Maki, Hosaka, Fujioka, Uchida (my personal favorite), and others, the series always comes down to the something contentious, always interesting, but mostly loving relationship between Chiaki, Kana, and Haruka. So, it looks like episode 13 will most likely be mostly about Chiaki, Kana, and Haruka even though we may see some of the side characters.

      Poor Hosaka, for all the time he spent following Haruka around, Natsuki got the epic win and not him. I guess he’ll spend all his time chasing and never seeing, but I guess it’s his own damn fault.

      I would really love to see a fourth season of Minami-ke, but I’m really having my doubts, the uneven production quality suggests that not much money or effort is being spent on Minami-ke Okaeri; read here and here for a discussion of the production problems. I await the final episode of Minami-ke Okaeri with anticipation and a little bit of melancholy because this may be the final episode of the franchise. 

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