Dear Brother Anime (English)

October 22nd, 2012

It was 2004. Fansubs were already phasing out of the elegantly clunky VHS tape-exchanges by snail mail and were shifting towards the passionless and infinitely faster transmission of IP people had no right to share by digital means.

Oniisama E was already a relic of a former age even then. Fansubbed by a bastion of Victorian worldviews, each volume of the anime came with notes on culture, references and a full set of what we ought to be feeling and understanding. It wasn’t enough for us to know that the rain, the wind, the trains and the flocks of birds were symbolic, we were to be told exactly how to interpret them. ^_^ As the end of this series heralded the end of anime fandom as I had entered it, I finally wrote a review, if only to say goodbye to it.

Now we have a chance that I could never ever have expected – a free, legal, multi-language option for people to watch this oh-so-shoujo series, streaming on Viki.com. I hope every single one of you who loves Maria-sama ga Miteru will watch Oniisama E/Dear Brother based on the manga by Riyoko Ikeda.

This is a series fraught with fraughtness. In the poisonous hothouse of an elite girls’ school, a nice girl named Nanako will encounter insanity, obsession, emotional manipulation, friendship and love.

Kaoru-no-Kimi, the athletic masculine type, Miya-sama without whom we would never have had Juri in Utena and the beautifully tragic Sainte-Juste, who makes homicidal depression and drug use look…sexy. You cannot tell me that kids books today are too dark. ^_^

Ratings:

Art – 8
Story – 9
Character 9
Yuri – More than you expect (and more than Technogirls would admit)
Service – 4 for girls in suits, but nothing more salacious than that

Overall – 9

This stuff is made of awesome. Give me until Episode 7, and if you hate it, you can stop. But then, we can never be friends. ^_^

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10 Responses

  1. BruceMcF says:

    When I cleaned up my downloads folder after going legit, this was probably the hardest one for me to delete.

    OK, so I’m psyched by the Aoi Hana getting picked up by JManga and psyched by the news of a Railgun 2 anime series and psyched by Rose of Versailles getting a stream and a physical release …

    … but back when I first learned that Viki’s streaming deal for classic Tezuka anime included Oniisama E…, you’ll never guess how I felt about such great news!

    Yup, totally chuffed.

    Viki also has a Tezuki anime channel on YouTube, where you can “thumbs up” Brother, Dear Brother

  2. I once made my way through a fansub of this which was an incredibly low resolution rip from video tape with tracking errors and compression artefacts the size of postage stamps.

    So it’s going to be great to watch a legal stream in relatively high quality!

    Dare we hope that if Rose of Versailles does well this will be picked up too? We can dream, right?

  3. Anonymous says:

    I just finished watching this series a few weeks ago. It was amazing!

    LOL It also makes me want to learn Japanese so I can read the manga in the original!

    Can’t wait for RoV to come out :)

  4. @Antony Shepard – Rose of Versailles has been licensed by Viki.com and Nozomi/Right Stuff. They are streaming it on the Nozomi YouTube Channel and will be releasing it on DVD – so you don’t even have to “dream”, it’s already a reality! ^_^

  5. Sorry Erica, I wasn’t quite clear.
    I know Rose of Versailles is getting a DVD release next year, it’s already on my “MUST BUY” list!

    What I meant was that if RoV does well in DVD sales, then they might pick Dear Brother up for DVD release too, that’s what we can dream about!

  6. @Antony – I understand, although it’s always important to remember that digital rights and physical rights are still completely separate things to Japanese license holders and there’s little relationship between the one and the other. ^_^

  7. Anonymous says:

    Broadly speaking, I agree with your assessment of Oniisama E. (For several years, Sainte-Juste was actually my go-to example of a character who seemed so much cooler than she probably should have…)

    However, I have a question for you—one that admittedly exposes my wholly anime-centric viewpoint. Bluntly, I read neither manga nor light novels, and so I must beg you to forgive the concomitant ignorance I am about to reveal.

    Quote: “I hope every single one of you who loves Maria-sama ga Miteru will watch Oniisama E/Dear Brother based on the manga by Riyoko Ikeda.”

    I am almost afraid to ask, but was there anything particularly shocking or sordid in the Maria-sama manga or light novels? In the anime, sure, there is a bit of angst here and there, but I cannot recall—based on the four times I’ve watched the series—anything particularly appalling ever happening. I mean this assertion to be completely nonjudgmental; “appalling” works beautifully in Oniisama E, but would seem totally out of place in Marimite. Sure, the final arc of Printemps is undeniably a bit angst-ridden, as were the two Sei/Shoiri episodes in the first season, but for me there was always—even the very first time through, with almost no advance knowledge—this feeling of “OK, the characters are in a bit of an unpleasant spot at the moment, but gosh darn it, in this series, everything is going to be just fine shortly.” (In fact, ironically, most of the topics that could have been treated as controversial—such as Sei’s orientation and Suguru’s, well, everything—were treated with kid gloves.) Seriously, to get a more snuggly security blanket than Lillian, you’d probably have to take a trip to Neo-Venezia.

    In short, it would be an understatement to say that I never managed to get that warm, fuzzy feeling with Oniisama E, and several of my worst fears were realized—quite magnificently—by the end of the series. Thus, your habit of mentioning the two series in close proximity (which has occurred on several occasions over the years) always seems a bit horrifying, in a way. I am not ignorant of the homages—visuals, memes, atmospherics, and otherwise—I just find your recommendation a bit like saying “So you liked the comfy fluff, huh? NOW TRY THE HARD STUFF!” :-)

    So I have to ask, am I missing something in Maria-sama that didn’t make it into the anime? (*cringe*)

    Thanks,
    CFB

  8. @Anonymous – What an interesting question! ^_^

    Does anything “sordid” happen in Marimite? Well…yes and no. It’s not a dark series as such, but it is not without moments of less light. Without spoiling anything, Kanako’s story is not without shadow and there are some darker shorts in the collections. Overall, nothing in Marimite approaches the vast melodrama of the Sainte-Juste, Miya-sama and Nanako triangle.

    But I meant the statement more as a “know your history” admonition. Marimite was created by a woman who knew Ikeda’s work. It’s obvious to me that Konno is completely aware of her literary antecedents and, as a result, if we want to fully enjoy her work at all the possible levels, we should be, as well. ^_^

  9. Cryssoberyl says:

    I was watching Onii-sama E with great interest but the Viki subs stalled around episode 21 for a while, and although they’re now complete, that lost momentum is tough to recover. I really do need to finish it though.

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