Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Minami-ke - Episodes 1-13 (Completed)

Minami-ke has been on my to watch list for a little while, particularly given its continuation as Minami-ke Okawari, but it's only recently that I've been able to catch up on this slice-of-life comedy, featuring 'a plain depiction of the lives of the three Minami sisters', as the opening titles so succinctly put it.

In case you haven't guessed somewhat, Minami-ke finds itself in the same kind of company as Lucky Star, Azumanga Daioh et al which, given the quality of those series, is quite a tall order for this effort to live up to. Does it manage it? Not entirely. While it takes quite a long time for the series to warm up, once its introduced the various characters which spice up proceedings and add for more comedy potential things do get much better, offering far more in the way of genuinely funny moments that are at least guaranteed to raise a smile even when the outright laughs are few and far between. As with most comedy, Minami-ke is very hit and miss, sometimes veering off into segments that simply don't work, while at others it hits the mark so close to the bullseye that it had me doubled up with laughter. Indeed, some of the more throwaway gags in the show seem to be the funniest, with the occasional appearances of Ninomiya-kun and Sensei providing some of the most hilarious asides I've seen in a long time. What better way to demonstrate than via the medium of YouTube?

Animation-wise, I did find myself getting annoyed by the change in animation style for close-ups of the sisters - Yes, I know it's being artistic, but I guess I'm a stickler for consistency in character designs and it only succeeded in irritating me. That aside, the animation quality is pretty decent throughout, although some of those aforementioned character designs are a little generic.

Anyone who knows me will know that I'm a huge fan of Lucky Star, and before that Azumanga Daioh (not to mention School Rumble, which could also be considered a stable-mate in this particular genre). I have to be honest and say that, blow for blow and joke for joke, Minami-ke fails to match any of those series. However, that doesn't mean that it isn't worth watching, as it still succeeds in offering up plenty of entertainment and amusement in its own right, particularly if you can get past the slow opening few episodes. I'll certainly be persevering to see how Minami-ke Okawari holds up

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