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blamspam's Oniisama e... Tv Review

Oniisama e... tv Review

Story & Characters

At first, the story begins as one familiar to old-school shoujo. Nanako Misonoo is a sweet, unassuming girl who got into the prestigious Seiran High School - not through being upper class or having influential parents like most of the students there, but because she had high enough test scores. As if she didn't get scorn enough from that, she is chosen to be in the Seiran Sorority, despite not having the qualifications of being rich or glamorous. But then, the story gets darker and more twisted. Complications arise through the jealousy and rage of the other students who were not chosen, and new mysteries and conspiracies unravel and are questioned with each passing episode. It seems everyone at Seiran has their own dirty secrets, tragic pasts and questionable futures, and Nanako gets caught between all of them. She writes to her "oniisama", or older-brother figure who was a teacher at her old cram school, about all the heartaches of being in one school full of crazies.

And crazy they are. This anime has much darker elements than one would expect for a story that, in summation, could just be about catty high schoolers. Drug addiction, violence, depression, attempted murder, sadism, masochism, terminal illness, shades of incest, death, hazing, broken homes, and most of all, suicide are common elements per episode. Most of the major characters attempt or contemplate suicide within the series, so much that to the jaded anime viewer it might become a sort of running gag. Because of the massively depressing storyline and mature elements, I do not recommend this anime to younger viewers.

Nanako, the protagonist, is what you might call the ultimate frosh at the beginning of the series. She is less than confident or secure, meek, and almost obsequient to the upperclassmen in the series. Vitriol aimed from the other students doesn't appear to affect her - she stands meekly with a blank expression while her friends have outrage for her - until she goes home, cries privately and writes to her "oniisama" about her troubles. The times she stands up for herself, fans will cheer - but soon afterward, they will slap their foreheads at her next excuse made for someone else. This series is about her growth, but more importantly, a great deal of it is her examining the other characters, and interacting with them, who are far more fun to watch than her - however endearing she is.

One of the first students she meets is Mariko, who appears to be a fan favorite. A raven-haired beauty with a toxic temper and a hatred for all men, she latches on to Nanako immediately. The first half of the story examines her and her mental breakdown, the family life that has corrupted her view of the world, and her desperate and violent need for Nanako's affection. On the contrast is Nanako's childhood friend Tomoko - a cheerful, tomboyish girl who is the main source of comic relief in the series. She appears to be the only character who is not mentally ill in some way, and is one of the cutest and most likeable ones as well.

Most of the series focuses on the Magnificent Three - three idolized upperclassmen who are much more than they seem, Rei Asaka or "Saint Juste-sama", Kaoru-no-Kimi, and Fukiko Ichinomiya or "Miya-sama". Each of their complicated, interconnected backstories reveal the nuances of their relationships with the other students and each other. Saint Juste-sama is the masculine-looking, but soft-mannered artist who chomps pills like they're candy. Whether or not you can take her character seriously is a good indication of whether you can take this series seriously. She is delicate and sick, but a former athlete, as well as many other conflictions. Rei lives in her own world which Nanako is infatuated with, but cannot seem to penetrate - Rei is too obsessed with Fukiko, and their strange, sadomasochistic relationship is explored and is one of the most tragic and disturbing parts of the series. "Miya-sama" begins as the most easily hated characters imaginable. The golden-maned, beautiful Sorority head and student body president, she is dignified, glamorous and both feared and worshipped. She is also cruel, manipulative and incredibly uncomfortable to watch. Her backstory is considered one of the low points in the series, until it is again linked to Rei. Kaoru, the last of the Magnificent Three, is easily liked and one of the most tragic. Super-cool, kind, and chill, she is admired by giddy girls calling her "manlier than all of the wimpy guys around here", and is a long-time friend of Rei's and admired by even Miya. Her attitude of grabbing life by the horns comes from her secret, however - a mysterious terminal illness eventually revealed in the series that has robbed her of love and eventually, purpose. The scope of her pain has led her to see past the girls' cruel machinations, and she has rejected every invitation to be in the sorority and refuses to acknowledge its existence.

There are other characters explored, their families, their pasts, and how they relate to others. Nanako's parents, her oniisama, and fellow classmates are all fair game for new tragedy. A character-driven story like this needs strong characters, and this anime does.

Rating: 8

Art

Normally, I'd have given the art at least an eight or nine based on my personal taste - I personally find it gorgeous. However, the majority of modern viewers are probably not going to appreciate it in the same way, so I'm taking that into consideration. It is bombastic, and utterly lacking in subtlety; the expressions are always pained but not pinched, and cannot go without being extravagant. At the same time, it heightens the emotions of the series, when combined with the atmospheric interspered imagery. It captures Riyoko Ikeda's art perfectly, which means it's going to be as polarizing as her art.There are lots of triple repeat cuts, abstract images, and melodramatic expressions and symbols put in. In any case, the animation is dated, but fans that prefer older-style anime over the new, more computer generated style must see it. The style of the direction, the designs, the motifs, are often psuedo-French. It is all very rich... and maybe too much so, as I said, depending on your taste.

As for imagery, expect lots of roses, sparkling tears, stained glass, doves, scenery pans, and constant gusts of breeze blowing cherry blossom petals...

The character designs work well for their purpose but are common for any old shojo series, too. Nanako is cute, with an open, honest look to her face that fits her - just like most other early shojo protagonists. Rei is pale, with the a slightly masculine look, and the often tired expression of a drug addict. Miya's extravagant, stiff curls express her manicured, projected personality... Etc.

Rating: 7

Sound

"Gin no yorokobi, gin no kanashimi..."

I can't really picture music more fitting for the series. Look to the opening and closing if you want to know what this series is like or about. It is done in an old-fashioned style that is not necessarily popular for newer anime series, but expected of older shojo. It is dramatic and emotional. The BGM typically fits the scenes, though there was one sting that felt too cheap-soap-opera-like for me - my only complaint there. A few well-known seiyuu are seen in this, and effectively go about their roles. Nanako sounds young, and her sound matures with her. Mariko's voice is sometimes anguished or snide. Miya has the somewhat nasal voice of the typical ojou. The voice that is the best and most surprising is Rei/"Saint Juste"'s. It is gentle, and soft, but has that madness it needs when she is in her angered states. Her motif, the dove, is fitting when combined with it. Her detachment and teasing tone still works well with the same voice, too. Sumi Shimamoto is her seiyuu.

Rating: 9

Presentation

Sometimes soapy, sometimes haunting, sometimes too melodramatic - no matter what, this anime is always engaging and emotional. Sometimes, emotionally taxing. There are things that seem almost too sick to watch any more, and other times, cute scenes between friends. Once the series picks up, it is hard to stop watching. Because of each little knot of mystery unraveled each episode, it gets addicting. The fans watching it for cheesy melodrama can have what they want, but the ones that want to take it seriously can as well. It all depends on your taste.

Nanako says at the end of each episode, "Oniisama, there is no end to my tears." It applies to this moving, frustrating, painful, and ultimately hopeful anime series as well.

Rating: 8

Final Verdict

8.00 (good)

Reviewed by blamspam, Aug 07, 2011

Comments

  1. angelxxuan Banned Member Aug 07, 2011

    thanks for the review, I'll catch and finish this on spoilers. I had a similar school, full of quite the same thing, always trying to find the better path to "off" themselves. from the review alone this doesn't seem like something I would ever sit down to watch. I have learned that even though someone else likes it, doesn't often mean I'm going to.

  2. SnickerdoodleNinja Retired Moderator Aug 07, 2011

    So descriptive <3! You really backed up all of your scores and opinions without letting personal bias get in the way and were very thourough. The review is also very readable with nice phrasing. Personally, I don't think this is my type of show, since I don't think I would like the high melodrama and darkness associated with it. I like dark things, but not in connection with school girls, for some reason.

    Great job, and I hope to see more reviews from you as time goes on! :)

  3. CyanideBlizzard Retired Moderator Aug 08, 2011

    Wow!

    I knew you said you planned on writing a new review, but I wasn't expecting one so soon. You really did a wonderful job with this. Like Snicker mentioned, it is incredibly description and that is definitely the selling point of the review. You really did a fantastic job while not keeping it too long, but yet long enough and that's a huge plus for me.

    I'm rather intrigued by this show, although it sounds rather dramatic it definitely sounds rather different, so I'll have to look into it for the future.

    Great review, and hopefully this will be one of many from you!

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