It’s always nice to welcome an old friend back into the fold.
I’ve been a big fan of Minami-ke since long before I was blogging. It’s hard to believe it’s been five years (the incredible anime year of 2007) since the first and best season aired. I wasn’t as down on the second season as most and quite liked the third, but I’m the first to admit that it was the original, under the watchful eye of genius comedy director Ohta Masahiko, that best captured the feel of the manga and even improved on it. Some of the best episodes of that season rank among the best anime comedy of all time.
Well, Minami-ke is back with yet another studio and director change – this time it’s Studio Feel and Hayate’s Kawaguchi Keiichiro. I’m not a huge fan of either, but if this “Sorry to keep you waiting” is an indication of what’s in store, the fourth season should be pretty good. It’s not top of the line M-K hilarity but it’s on-point, capturing the essence of the humor and presenting character designs that look quite faithful to the original, with not a Bible Black face in sight. At its best Minami-ke is a celebration of the art of time-wasting and the strange places juvenile minds are won’t to go, and this OVA is full of both – and just hearing that BGM again is enough to take me back to a very happy place.
Starting off with a Mako-chan sketch is never a bad thing, and while there’s nothing as over-the-top as Makoto getting felt up by Haruka or hiding under the kotatsu and changing clothes with four girls surrounding him, the Halloween humor mostly hits the mark. We also get a good dose of Hosaka, including a salad song to form the B-side of his Curry ballad, a very funny “on a whim” chapter (lots of Chiaki goodness), getting drunk on New Year’s Amazake and a pair of sketches dedicated to wearing swimsuits indoors and fanning yourself to sleep (Kana dreams about Mako-chan, interestingly), and the awkward scenario of a grain of rice stuck to the face. I especially liked the “So she’s normally a takoyaki?” ending, which perfectly sums up the random WTF of Minami-ke at its best. None of this is top shelf material, but it’s mostly good stuff – and it feels like Minami-ke. I go into Season 4 with high hopes.