Haruka, Kana and Chiaki are the three sisters of the Minami family, living alone together and each attending high school, junior high and elementary school respectively. Join them as they carry out their everyday lives, dealing with everything from cross-dressing school friends to persistent admirers.
Whilst they can undoubtedly achieve the heights of brilliance, series about everyday life must be approached with caution- for every Ichigo Mashimaro, there’s a dull Lucky Star to counter it. Fortunately, despite my misgivings towards what Minami-ke might have to offer, upon taking the plunge I was to discover that this series was just what the doctor ordered.
The keys to Minami-ke’s success lie not only with its impeccable comic timing and delivery, but with the way it combines both the sublime and the ridiculous into hilarious ongoing storylines. Instead of jokes that drag on forever or meander about without going anywhere, the series is always pushing forward, and you cannot help but let yourself get carried along with it. Take, for example, the unfortunate case of Chiaki’s classmate Makoto, whose crush on Haruka forces him to work his way around Chiaki’s ban on visiting their house by having Kana dress him as a girl. As the series progresses, Makoto longs to come clean and reveal himself, but by this point he has established his feminine persona so well that no one even believes him!
No comedy series can succeed without a strong cast of characters, and whilst they admittedly fall into rather standard types, Minami-ke has just that. As far as the Minami sisters go, we have the motherly, hard-working yet firm Haruka, laid-back prankster Kana and earnest “eleven-going-on-forty” Chiaki- all personalities we’ve seen before, but ones that work well together. Adding a bit of spice and variety to this is the ever-increasing supporting class of friends and classmates, including another Minami family (three brothers and a little sister who Chiaki adopts as her brother), the aforementioned Makoto, Kana’s long-suffering friends and various others- again, they may not be especially complex personalities, but it is the dynamics between them all that really make the show come to life.
Although some changes have been made to clean up the original manga character designs, Minami-ke offers solid and attractive visuals throughout. Background music follows the same laid-back “lazy summer” lines as that of Ichigo Mashimaro and Azumanga Daioh- perfect for setting the tone of the series.
The spiritual successor to Ichigo Mashimaro, Minami-ke is a light-hearted and entertaining series that should bring a smile to the face of most viewers. Even if Lucky Star wasn’t your cup of tea, give this one a try- it wipes the floor with pretty much all the competition.