Reviewby Theron Martin, Apr 10th 2012
Listen to Me, Girls. I Am Your Father!
episodes 8-12 streaming
Yuuta faces eviction for violating his renter's contract (which only allowed for him to reside in the apartment), so he searches for a new one with the help of the Street Observation Club. Though he eventually is able to temporarily resolve that problem with Hina's unwitting help, other problems still remain, such as how the struggle to manage money, take care of Hina, and still attend school (which for Sora and Miu means a lengthy commute) is wearing out Yuuta and the older girls. Miu laments how everyone feels sorry for her as she takes an excursion about town in Nimura's company, while Sora faces the reality that she may not be able to maintain participation in choir club in light of her other responsibilities and Yuuta must face the fact that he's not as aware of what's going on with the girls as he should be for a nominal parent. Hina, meanwhile, is still blissfully unaware that her parents aren't coming back, but that cannot last, either. When an offer comes to Yuuta that could change everything, he must think hard about what's best for everyone.
LTMG undoubtedly lost some viewers early on because it felt some compelling need to toy with underage fan service in order to draw in a certain segment of the otaku audience. Once it had that audience firmly in its grasp, however, it gradually showed its true colors: it is actually a much tamer dramedy which still finds room for humor and slice-of-life antics but concentrates just as much on the very real and serious complications which result from Yuuta's noble but problem-ridden attempt to keep his sister's children together in the absence of their parents. The complications, in fact, become prevalent in the final few episodes, which helps greatly in elevating the series well above the drudgery that jaded, veteran anime viewers have been conditioned to expect.
Unlike many other series of its ilk, LTMG is willing to confront the major practical issues that its premises raises, such as whether or not Yuuta and the girls living in that small apartment is really a proper or feasible living arrangement and what long-term effect the situation might have on everyone's schooling. It avoids demonizing the other relatives, instead painting them in the later episodes more as simply not appreciating at first how important it was for the girls to stay together, and presents them offering pragmatic guidance and solutions. It stresses how much what Yuuta is doing is guided by his relationship with his sister and shows that the emotions involved run much deeper than just a sense of responsibility on Yuuta's part. It also, in its final episode, deals squarely with the elephant lingering in the room ever since the beginning of episode 3: that no one has yet told Hina the truth about her parents. And yes, the scene where that happens is every bit as heartbreaking to watch as it should be. Perhaps the best testament to the quality of the writing in the final few episodes is that a scene where the older cast members must explain to a 3-year-old that her parents aren't ever coming back isn't even the most emotional moment in that episode. Those come later in some potent moments of closure and affirmation whose impact may catch viewers off guard. Series like this one started out to be cannot normally accomplish that.
The writing is also bolstered by a quality supporting cast. The creepy lolicon Sako only has one prominent appearance in this span, and is severely chastised when he even hints at acting inappropriately, so his presence becomes an increasingly minor distracting factor in the late episodes. Nimura also only appears on a couple of occasions, but in those appearances he reaffirms that he is a remarkably decent guy who and shows that he can form a fun (and entirely proper!) relationship with Miu; the episode where the two wander about town together demonstrates a level of chemistry which might make some wish that she was a more proper age for dating him, as they would make a great couple. Raika also has limited appearances but makes the most of them, as nearly every moment she's on the screen is golden. Her delightfully off-kilter nature will make many wish that she and Yuuta formally hook up. By comparison, Yuuta and Sora come off a little bland; not requiring them to carry the series was one of the best moves that the creators made. Hina, contrarily, continues to be an irrepressible force of cuteness.
The look of the series, contrarily, is not as sharp. Studio Feel (Jinki: Extend, Otoboku, Futakoi Alternative) uses a pleasing (if somewhat subdued) color scheme, but most of the character designs look like something reproduced from basic anime character design templates and their rendering quality rarely impresses. Backgrounds also look ordinary, often having the feel of those seen in slice-of-life ero games. The animation isn't bad but isn't anything special, either. Fan service elements are much more limited through this stretch, to the point of being nonexistent in some episodes. (Regrettably, the artwork pieces at the end of each episode are not always so tame.)
Nothing is wrong with the sound, though. As the series delves into more serious and emotional content it depends heavily on gentle piano and string variations on a couple of basic themes, but they work very well when needed. Music director Hiroshi Uesugi, in his first anime effort in nearly 20 years, also understands perfectly when to apply the lightest touch, as one key scene goes mostly without musical backing. The opener, whose visuals are still mired in the series' early toying with fan service, remains unchanged, while slightly better but still unremarkable closer “Coloring” continues throughout but is set to epilogue visuals in the final episode – and definitely watch those through, as they deliver a key development that fans have been wishing for ever since the series' premise was established. Amongst Japanese vocal performances, Hiromi Igarashi does an outstanding job as Hina in a performance that may be tough to beat for year-end honors, while Yurie Horie (who also sings the closing theme) proves once again that she can handle offbeat characters as well as anyone. (She was also great as Minorin in Toradora!.)
The anime version of Listen to Me Girls, I'm Your Father apparently only adapts the first third or so of the nine light novels that have published to date, so this may not be the last we'll see of this series. An OVA episode 13 is due out with the final Blu-Ray and DVD releases in July, so there will be at least one more episode in any case; hopefully it will not follow the now-standard pattern of being substantially heavier on fan service, as that would harm the wonderful mood establish by the series' last episode. If the main story content were to end with episode 12, though, then it is ending as well as it possibly could and better than most would have initially thought possible.
Overall (sub) : B+
Story : B+
Animation : B
Art : B-
Music : B+
+ Strong and emotional final episode, significant upgrade in writing quality, good key vocal performances.
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