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This Week in Anime - Does Dear Brother Still Hold Up?




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John Thacker
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Joined: 28 Oct 2013
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 15, 2020 1:27 pm Reply with quote
Great show, but the kind of crazy I find difficult to watch a lot in a row without being overwhelmed.

Dezaki certainly influenced Ikuhara a lot; you point out Utena, but Penguindrum and Yuri Kuma Arashi also draw on Oniisama E and Rose of Versailles imagery a lot too.

Still, like Ikuhara's works, I always end up feeling a bit of an undercurrent that the lesbianism is depicted as one of those all-girl boarding school lesbian affairs that most of them will grow out of. Ultimately safe (and safe and attractive to the male gaze.)
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Brand



Joined: 30 Jan 2006
Posts: 1023
PostPosted: Thu Oct 15, 2020 1:28 pm Reply with quote
I admittedly watched fansubs of this show (maybe a decade ago now?) and it is great. There are some problematic things about this show, which I thought even a decade ago but still I think this show holds up really well. And yes, any Utena fan holds it to themself to watch Dear Brother because it is in the Utena DNA.
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angelmcazares



Joined: 23 Sep 2010
Posts: 4689
Location: Iscandar
PostPosted: Thu Oct 15, 2020 1:50 pm Reply with quote
The show was actually legally available in English a few years ago from the short lived Anime Sols.

animenewsnetwork.com/news/2013-08-11/animesols-to-stream-classic-shoujo-series-dear-brother
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BodaciousSpacePirate
It's Over 9000!It's Over 9000!


Joined: 17 Apr 2015
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 15, 2020 2:05 pm Reply with quote
Dear Brother is one of those shows that I feel so extraordinarily lucky to own on DVD (I snatched them up less than two weeks before Anime Sols destroyed all the remaining unsold copies of the show for "tax reasons"), but never seem to go back and rewatch very much. It's gorgeous, and worth watching simply due to the sheer number of shows that have referenced/been inspired by/straight up copied its most memorable elements - Utena, Simoun, Strawberry Panic, etc. - it's also so much, all the time, in a way that I find more than a little exhausting.

To put it into perspective, my favorite anime of all time is Maria-sama ga Miteru, a show that, as Carl Kimlinger once quipped, "cannot be watched if sarcastic people—yourself included—are in the room". More than possibly any other anime, Maria-sama ga Miteru takes its narrative cues from the precedents set by Dear Brother. As a result, its story is set in a world where even the smallest of conflicts carries soul-crushing melodramatic tension, but its characters are also so earnest and likable that you can't help but want them to overcome their problems. I can't say the same thing about Dear Brother, because even though both shows might a similar setting and a similar level of melodrama*, I don't actually find Dear Brother's cast very likable. Even the Maria-sama ga Miteru characters you're supposed to hate (aside from a few snooty country club girls in the first OVA) are more endearing than most of Dear Brother's cast, and that goes a long way towards making me want to rewatch a show that is that overly-emotional.

(Then again, I suppose it's not fair to compare Dear Brother's rewatchability to a show that I've rewatched over a dozen times.)

* Dear Brother is definitely the more melodramatic of the two, but they're both in the same ballpark when compared to your average anime drama.
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MarshalBanana



Joined: 31 Aug 2014
Posts: 3950
PostPosted: Thu Oct 15, 2020 2:18 pm Reply with quote
John Thacker wrote:
Still, like Ikuhara's works, I always end up feeling a bit of an undercurrent that the lesbianism is depicted as one of those all-girl boarding school lesbian affairs that most of them will grow out of.
Well if you were in a female only environment during your teen years, you would need to find some outlet for your newly discovered sexual desires.
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octopodpie
ANN Managing Editor


Joined: 02 May 2011
Posts: 1996
Location: Washington State
PostPosted: Thu Oct 15, 2020 3:35 pm Reply with quote
angelmcazares wrote:
The show was actually legally available in English a few years ago from the short lived Anime Sols.

animenewsnetwork.com/news/2013-08-11/animesols-to-stream-classic-shoujo-series-dear-brother


I know, I own the DVD set and storyboards but Anime Sols never took off in the way that it hoped and so the series stayed under the radar for anyone not actively aware of it.
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Triltaison



Joined: 03 Jul 2011
Posts: 372
PostPosted: Thu Oct 15, 2020 3:43 pm Reply with quote
I'm also in that lucky boat of owning the Anime Sols release of this fantastic title. Dezaki is definitely one of my absolute favorite directors, and Dear Brother might be my personal favorite of his that I've seen. It's probably in my top 5 favorite anime as well. Soooooo good.

If we were to get the sorta sister franchise of Aim for the Ace out over here one day as well, I would buy that in a hot second. Gimme Dezaki postcards, a fierce ojousama, and melodrama turned up to 11 straight up. High school Dezaki drama does it for me every time.
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everapril



Joined: 24 Apr 2009
Posts: 111
PostPosted: Thu Oct 15, 2020 4:01 pm Reply with quote
John Thacker wrote:
Great show, but the kind of crazy I find difficult to watch a lot in a row without being overwhelmed.


I totally get this I am reading through Ikeda’s Rose of the Versailles and its great but it is taking me so long because the mellow drama is cranked to 11 and it can be overwhelming! And some of it is historical fact! So even when I am aware a particular twist is coming she still gets me like exhausted spongebob.
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Dop.L



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 643
Location: London
PostPosted: Thu Oct 15, 2020 4:20 pm Reply with quote
I first watched this a heck of a long time on a dodgy fansub ripped from videotape (you could see where the tracking was a bit off at the bottom of the screen) long before it was legally available. Oh, the Melodrama!
I missed out the Anime Sols DVD release and as Retrocrush isn’t available in the UK I’d hope for some new physical release of this show even if only a low budget one.

But man, it’s not a show to marathon. SO MUCH ANGST! Best taken in small doses!
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OtherSideofSky



Joined: 19 May 2016
Posts: 107
PostPosted: Thu Oct 15, 2020 7:30 pm Reply with quote
John Thacker wrote:
Still, like Ikuhara's works, I always end up feeling a bit of an undercurrent that the lesbianism is depicted as one of those all-girl boarding school lesbian affairs that most of them will grow out of. Ultimately safe (and safe and attractive to the male gaze.)

I always saw the setting and imagery as more an extension of "S" fiction from pre-war girls' magazines. Girls' schools were the setting of choice for that genre (and probably also the reality for a lot of its readership), and the relationships between girls it depicts tend to be confined to that setting (expressing not a concession to male gaze but the lack of freedom experienced by many adult Japanese women at that period). You see a lot of the same tropes echoed in early depictions of male-male relationships in shojo manga (e.g. Heart of Thomas).
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whiskeyii



Joined: 29 May 2013
Posts: 1837
PostPosted: Thu Oct 15, 2020 10:09 pm Reply with quote
John Thacker wrote:

Still, like Ikuhara's works, I always end up feeling a bit of an undercurrent that the lesbianism is depicted as one of those all-girl boarding school lesbian affairs that most of them will grow out of. Ultimately safe (and safe and attractive to the male gaze.)


I’ll have to rewatch the series (only made it a third of the way through because SO INTENSE), but reading the manga, I definitely never felt like it was billed as a Class S male-gazey kind of story. It really does feel like a visual expression of all the emotional highs and lows of being a teenage girl, and at least around the main characters, their implied lesbianism doesn’t seem to be depicted as “just a phase”. I’m curious—knowing that the anime makes a few crucial changes from the source material—if that impression is retained throughout the anime as well.

Also I guess since RoV got released, sign me up for wishing for an Aim for the Ace release some day! Laughing
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Cutiebunny



Joined: 18 Apr 2010
Posts: 1525
PostPosted: Thu Oct 15, 2020 10:30 pm Reply with quote
I supported the Anime Sols Kickstarter-esque campaign years ago, so I too have the DVD set and copy storyboard.

I love this series. The anime is like an early 90s version of "Mean Girls", if that story took place in Japan. Every time you think things can't get worse for Nanako, Fukiko or one of the girls responds in a "hold my beer" kind of way.

One of the things that did bother me about the series is how all the teenage characters are left to their own devices to figure things out. I know mental health is still not valued in Japan as much as it is in many other first world nations (and particularly in late 80s/early 90s Japan), but it felt odd that everyone was so completely abandoned by the adults that are supposed to be looking out for their welfare. I felt like Nanako's stepbrother should have done more instead of just being a passive figure for the majority of the story. Nanako is telling him about all of these horrible things that are happening at school and, by doing nothing, he's an enabler.

I agree that the series is not one that you should try to watch in 1-2 days. It left me with a very WTF feeling. Not that it wasn't a great story - it was - but it can be very emotionally draining. And everyone in it seriously needs a hug. Or 10.
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Graceful Nanami



Joined: 24 Aug 2011
Posts: 302
Location: United States
PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 12:19 am Reply with quote
Oniisama E is one of the best dramas ever made. And Mariko Shinobu is one of the most fantastic characters ever portrayed. The anime is absolutely beautiful.

I also supported the Anime Sols release after having lived off the Techno Girls' fansubs of days gone by. Such a treat and so thankful.
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