A look back at Minami-ke ~Okawari~

I ain’t going to sugarcoat things here, but Minami-ke Okawari just isn’t as hot as the show that came before it. It’s inferior in about every way to the studio Doumo produced predecessor from the animation quality to the script writing. That said, I found the show to be at least enjoyable for what it was, and also found it quite fascinating. What makes the show fascinating is the fact that it’s studio asread’s second work. The studio caught my interest with Shuffle!, and since then I’ve been keeping something of an eye on them. If I was this guy then I’d probably keep track of the individual animators, but I can’t read kanjis nor can I identify individual animators’ styles.

I’ll get the boring details out of the way first. The script writing in this series was noticeably weaker than that of the first Minami-ke. It seems the writers at asread can handle a harem well, but tackling slightly more realistic personalties proved to be a challenge for them. By virtue of that fact, a lot of the characters were simplified– boiled down to their core traits, and they worked from there. Some characters were even written off entirely. This was servicable, but because of this dumbing down Okawari lacks the genius found in the first iteration of Minami-ke.

The direction tried its best to be unique, and worked to some degree. The use of question marks or exclamation marks popping from characters’ heads was charming, but other than that it just seemed like another case of asread not really being up to the task of slice of life comedy. The direction is competent, but lacks the energy and flow that made the first series such a smooth operator.

As far as animation goes, it’s noticeably worst than asread’s first work, Shuffle! I haven’t seen Shuffle! in a bit, save the first DVD just recently, but I remember the animation being quite fluid. However, in just the first four episodes that I re-watched recently, there was definitely a consistency issue when it came to art style. Okawari’s animation, from what I can remember, looked consistent the whole way through, it just wasn’t really fluid. Asread doesn’t quite have that Shaft-like dexterity when it comes to stretching the budget, so there were a lot of cuts that just looked awkward, but they made good use of pretty still images when they could.

Alright, now that all that crap is out of the way, time for the good stuff. One thing that struck me here and in Shuffle! was asread’s quirky sense of humour. In Shuffle! it manifested in the form of the girls’ “Defense Forces” and various other small details here and there (the fact that bald old guys attend high school, the first eye-catches.) In Okawari, from what I can remember, it mostly took shape in the opening and ending animations. That strange creative spirit is part of why asread interests me as a studio.

Minami-ke ~Okawari~ is probably an ok-to-good slice of life show at best, and suffers because it was thrown the giant shoes of the previous work and tried its best to fit into them. I won’t say asread didn’t give it the good old college try, but what they eventually churned out here was certainly lacking. That said, I appreciate their ambitious approach to things, and expect greater works in the future!

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