Having now finished both seasons of Minami-Ke (Minami-Ke and Minami-Ke Okawari), I found myself pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it, and indeed would really quite like some more.
I wasn’t keen at first, finding the central three girls quite unappealing, the comedy, especially over-the-top animation sequences, somewhat forced and the teardrop-shaped mouths going too far to look like the vaguely cat-like :3 face and ending up just looking like something nasty has happened with a razor blade. Manabi Straight's mouths looked a little odd, but here they end up looking like beaks.
But the good thing about character-driven slice-of-life comedies is that if just a couple of great characters get introduced, they can carry whole episodes. And while Minami-Ke is mostly aimed at getting boys to think the girls are cute, its real stars are the males.
There’s the one who likes the oldest sister, an absolute nutcase who overdramatises everything and tries to reach perfection to impress her (only for her never to notice, while one girl always sees and gets creeped out by his dramatic poses and manliness), and then there’s the boy who likes the middle sister and gave her a love letter, only for her to get convinced it was a challenge and spend the rest of the time being combative. Most especially, though, there is the boy the same age as the youngest girl, who is cute enough when he’s just trying to fit in, but then starts cross-dressing in a convoluted scheme to get closer to his crush, the oldest sister.
It’s the last one, Makoto-kun - AKA Mako-chan - who’s really the most funny and endearing part of this show, especially when he gets paired up with the tomboyish Touma, who is also adorable and gets mistaken for a boy quite often, leading to some classic Shakespearean comedy with gender mix-ups and people put into absurd situations.
And the two of them actually made this show, which might otherwise have been quite dull and low on laughs, both hilarious and endearing. Thus it comes recommended.
(originally written 25.9.08. A third series and an OVA were to follow. The first season was made by Studio Doumu/Daume; the rest came from Asread. Thoughts on the fourth season, from Studio Feel, here)