Review: Oniisama e (Brother, Dear Brother)

Oniisama e is about its characters: the sweet and naive schoolgirl, the prideful and manipulative Sorority head, the suicidal, heartbroken drug addict, the basketball star with a secret struggle, and it goes on. Character development is an extremely important ingredient in this anime, and each character in this series is well explored and developed, even the penpal (“Brother”) has a significant role in the anime. However, sometimes I felt some characters could have been more active, or that the explanations for their actions were pompous or unbelievable.

The anime is old, and based on an even older manga. The animation is absolutely stunning, as they give attention to detail and pan paused shots. Similarly, the music is beautiful and conveys the feelings of the anime.

On one hand, the manga is potentially groundbreaking for its time, as it discusses topics such as lesbianism, incest, drug use, divorce and disease. On the other hand, Oniisama e sometimes feels outdated and slightly conservative in its portrayal of such themes and its characters, despite the fact the anime is supposedly ‘happier’ than the manga (not by much, I would say).

The structure of the anime is, well, very loose, but well plotted as most character arcs are resolved and well-placed to drive the action. Sometimes this makes it fun to watch, since you never know what’s going to happen next, other times, there are weird shifts in mood and theme. The anime is also 39 episodes, which is pretty long. This is both an advantage and disadvantage in comparison to the 3 volume manga- the story is expanded, but also hella long. The anime is exciting at times, but can also be pretty boring and slow.

In the end, the anime is a character-centric drama that revolves around the themes of love, friendship and growing up, so if you’re not interested in those themes, don’t watch it.

P.S: there is a hell a lot of crying, but then it’s not surprising since the catch line at the end of every episode is: “Brother, Dear Brother… there is no end to my tears.”

Trigger warnings (because this is a triggery anime)
– self-harm
– eating disorder
– psychological manipulation
– suicidal thoughts
– death

Sailor Moon Crystal 3: Death Busters Review

Sailor Moon Crystal 3: Death Busters is a re-animation of the original Sailor Moon: Infinity manga, around two decades after the first Sailor Moon anime aired.

It’s needless to say that the quality of the animation is nothing to worry about, unlike the previous 2 seasons. It is arguably more creative, cleaner and more consistent than the original anime. However, I want to talk more about the how character development, plot, word-building was executed, as well as aspects of artistic direction.

The Senshi unite

Firstly the anime really showed the mental development of Sailor Moon (Usagi Tsukino) as a character, through showing her internal thoughts in important scenes.

Super Sailor Moon

However, other characters we not given anywhere near that amount of development, although I enjoyed the fact that the heroines took an active role in searching for the villains, instead of the more passive approach displayed in the 90s anime. As a consequence of the lack of focus on the other characters, we don’t really get to see the friendships of the Inner Senshi develop.

The Inner Senshi

Another disappointment was the lack of development of the romantic relationship between Haruka Tenoh (Sailor Uranus) and Michiru Kaioh (Sailor Neptune), which was what made the 90s anime stand out. Their relationship is never really explored beyond showing them together and giving hints about their relationship. Michiru’s character was especially neglected- if my knowledge of her was based on this series alone, I would know next to nothing about her personality.

Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune

Furthermore, there was a subplot between Haruka and Usagi that became neglected after a certain point, despite its importance.

Usagi (Sailor Moon) and Haruka (Sailor Uranus)

Although the anime was strictly no-nonsense in its absence of fillers and quick plot, it did not handle the plot and character development as delicately as it could have, leaving untied threads or unexplored characters. On the positive side, it does give ample attention to Chibiusa and her relationship with Hotaru Tomoe. Both of their characters were well-developed during the short series.

Chibiusa and Hotaru

In avoiding any filler, or anything ‘unnecessary’ to the main battle plot, Sailor Moon Crystal 3 lacked the humour of the 90s anime. More importantly, I think the tone and climaxes of the anime were not well managed. The plot became too focused on the battle with the final boss too early on, and consequently became too serious, and too focused on the battle and not on character development (except for Sailor Moon). The fact the anime reached the climax so early on meant that the tension stayed at the same level for a long time, which sucked the last episodes of their potential intensity for me. This was furthered by the lack of creativity in the use of colour and backgrounds in the final battle episodes. Another issue is that the tone would sometimes fluctuate from very serious to very happy at times.

The Inner Senshi

The serious tone of the anime would not have been a problem if there had been better world-building. Unfortunately, from what I have gathered, the villains of this season have no other reason for their actions except the cliched “bwahahaha let’s take over earth”, which is extremely unfortunate. Almost all of the villains and their intentions are only given surface attention and never explored deeper. However, this fault probably stems from the original manga. Not only are the villains lacking in character development, but there seemed to be little creative thought going into their creative designs (I am talking about the Daemon and the final boss, not villains who stuck to the same designs as the 90s anime), which made the battles less interesting to watch.

An important villain

Would I recommend this over the original? Probably not- lack of Harumichi and uncreative villains, also because the original has good character episodes and some episodes which have amazing direction. Of course this version has advantages over the original- less filler, more development for Sailor Moon and better animation (and fewer episodes). Whether you watch this series or not is up to you. If you’re an old fan in for some nostalgia, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this, especially as if you really liked the manga (I have heard that it is closer to the manga). But if you’re watching Sailor Moon for the first time and want to understand the hype, I would say, watch the original.

 

P.S: My views may have been affected my the fact I watched the anime weekly, not all at once. I may change my opinions if I watch it again.

Credits for the screencaps go to http://sailormoonscreencaps.tumblr.com/