Reviewby Theron Martin,
DVD - Complete Collection
Maiku Kamashiro was abandoned by his mother while still a toddler, with only a photo depicting him and his twin sister in a kiddie pool as a memento. In his high school years he manages to track down the house in the photo's background and, finding it available but in disrepair, decides to live there alone, using a (contract?) job as a programmer to support himself. One day a girl, Miina Miyafuji, shows up at his door claiming to be his twin – and indeed, she not only has the same rare blue eye color but also has the same photo that Maiku does and the same backstory about being abandoned when very young. Then a second girl, Karen Onodera, shows up with the same story, photo, and blue eyes. One of them is likely Maiku's family, and the other a stranger, but which is which? Short of an expensive DNA test, they have no way to know for sure, and complicating matters further is that both girls soon fall in love with Maiku. Reluctantly he allows them both to stay, for regardless of the truth and the aggravations and distractions the girls cause, they do give him – indeed, all of them – the one thing the he has long yearned for: a sense of family.
Please Twins! Is the 2003 sequel to 2002's highly popular Please Teacher!, although in this case the term “sequel” is being used loosely. The story is set in the same location as its predecessor, with its events taking place about two years after Teacher started, and most of the cast from the original do appear to some degree or another. However, this has more of a “The Next Generation” feel to it, as storyline is entirely unrelated to the events of the first series and the focus has shifted to an entirely new set of characters. It is not completely a stand-alone story, as newcomers will miss some of the jokes and a few points may be confusing to those not familiar with the original (like who the tiny guy who keeps popping up to eat Perch snacks is and why the teacher Mizuho has some unusual abilities), but one does not strictly have to have seen Teacher to appreciate this.
Despite some humor elements, Twins follows the lead of its predecessor by mostly taking its story and romantic content seriously. As a result, the love triangle and “maybe-we're-related, maybe-we're-not” shtick plays out very much like a teen soap opera. This time around, though, there is only one other side romance, and it comes up so late, and is resolved quickly enough, that it feels like an afterthought used to solve a problem (namely, getting a potential romantic rival for Miina and Karen out of the picture) rather than a natural progression. The family-or-strangers refrain is also repeated ad nauseum, to the point that it becomes a distraction from what the series does do right: for all of the drama, it functions relatively well as a classic tale of finding a sense of belonging by building an artificial family unit. (While this has long been a common theme in anime, it was particularly prevalent around the time that this series was made, which doubtless had an influence on the story's construction.) And of course there are all sorts of romantic complications along the way.
The characters drive the series much more than the events, which is a big part of the reason why the storytelling, in the end, does not stand out much; these are relatively well-defined characters but not an especially dynamic set. Maiku is the stern, serious one who doesn't know what to make of the circumstances, but he also does little to distinguish himself. Karen's main gimmick is her propensity to faint easily, though she is also the more simple and straightforward one. Miina comes off best as a generally upbeat girl who is definitely worldlier, more outgoing, and more aggressive than Karen but also tends to flee in the face of a difficult situation. Together they provide a decent balance, though they also give the impression that there should be more chemistry between the three than what shows on the screen and that Maiku is too reticent on revealing what he really feels. Amongst other new characters, Kousei is a classmate of Maiku's who seems to enjoy coming across as gay (whether he actually is or not is not made clear until late in the series), Tsubaki is the bespectacled vice president who serves as the chief romantic rival to the girls, and Haruko is the perky younger sister of Matagu who befriends both Karen and Miina. None of them are stand-outs, either.
The series does better with integrating in characters from the original series, however. Kei rarely appears and does not even have a line until the final episode, but Mizuho pops up regularly as the sole recurring adult presence in the story. Matagu's more comedic side is played up to the point that his perverted, pathetic, siscon-leaning ways serve as the primary comedic relief, while Ichigo undergoes an even bigger transformation by becoming both the authoritarian Student Council President and a sly, voyeuristic manipulator who always has a dry chuckle ready and seems to get her jollies from documenting the love lives of those whose paths she crosses. Little Marie also pops up from time to time in the company of the lead trio to provide doses of raw cuteness. Contrarily, Koishi, Kaede, and Hyousuke barely appear at all outside of the final episode, but none of them really have a role to play here, either.
As with Teacher, production for this series is done by studio Daume, and the principle creative staff from Teacher largely remains intact. That results in a consistent artistic style, but it also means that the series shares all of the artistic flaws of its predecessor, too. In fact, it tends to have even more problems with characters staying on-model than the previous series did, but (again) especially in the OVA episode, and its colors seem a little less vibrant. Its animation also uses considerably more stills, giving the impression that the series was rushed into production to capitalize on the popularity of the original. Fan service – mostly involving Karen and Kaede being nude in the bath – is more frequent but also more casual in its use; it is just there rather than being emphasized boldly, like in more heavily fan service-focused series from the decade which followed it. It is mostly (but not entirely) undefined and, in general, not of sufficient appeal to be a draw on its own.
The musical score continues the first series' pattern of being largely based on light synthesizer and piano pieces, although it also tends to be used more sparsely here. It is largely innocuous. Recording artist KOTOKO is back to write and co-perform solid opener “Second Flight,” while Mamai Kawada's second turn at doing a franchise closer is again pleasant but this time otherwise unremarkable.
Bang Zoom! Entertainment again did the English dub, and again this is not one of their strongest efforts, especially in early episodes. Johnny Yong Bosch sometimes struggles a bit on his timing as Maiku, though he does become smoother as the series progresses, and he is not the only one. Contrarily, Kari Wahlgren (under an alias) make for a respectable and consistent Miina and Lara Jill Miller uses the same kind of soft, gentle touch for Karen that she used with Mianawa from Mahoromatic: Something More Beautiful. The script stays relatively tight except for Americanizing some slang and euphemisms.
The DVD-only release comes courtesy of Nozomi Entertainment. It condenses the original four singles down to three disks and includes familiar Extras like clean opener and closer, promo clips, and a set of 13 “image vocals,” which are essentially just clips from the series set to various songs. It does not seem to offer anything new or upgraded, so this is really just a release for those who never had the title originally and/or are looking for a condensed, economical replacement for their original singles.
Over the course of the 12 regular episodes the story does eventually bring the matter of who is and is not a twin to a resolution, and then uses episode 13 (originally an OVA) as a sort of “what happens after” scenario. However, it does not neatly wrap things up, as it never attempts to resolve (or, for that matter, even address) the issue of why the girl who turns out to not be a twin has the photo she does or what the location where some crucial evidence is found has to do with anything. Still, it at least provides some sense of completion without expecting viewers to refer to other source material. For that the series gets a definite plus. As with Teacher, its style is a bit different tenor than more recent romantic series, which can be a refreshing change of pace, but it is also a production where nostalgia value carries it a bit more than actual quality does.
Overall (dub) : C+
Overall (sub) : C+
Story : C+
Animation : C+
Art : C+
Music : B-
+ Lead trio do have some chemistry and are well-defined, plentiful guest appearances from first series without having them be distractions.
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