Minami-ke Tadaima – 11

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It seems as if you can always count on Christmas for an appearance by Hosaka.

After Makoto’s star turn last week, Minami-ke trotted out its other outlandish male supporting character this week, and two characters more different you could hardly find.  Yet there are commonalities between the two of them – most obviously, I think, that they’re extremely susceptible to being trolled by mischievous females with their own agenda.  In Mako-chan’s case I think there’s a core of affection underneath Kana’s admittedly cruel trolling, and to be honest the whole Mako-chan thing has taken on such a life of its own now that she really doesn’t need to do much of anything.

When it comes to Hosaka, though, I think Hayami is quite different.  I like pretty much every character on this show and find all of them funny in their own ways, but she’s really the exception to that rule – I neither like her nor do I find her constant torture of Hosaka funny most of the time.  The fact is that Hosaka is actually an innocent, for all his admittedly sometimes-creepy behavior – he’s a hopeless romantic who seems incapable of grasping the notion that anyone might lie to him.  And Hayami constantly uses this not just to play with his emotions, but to her own advantage to boot.  It’s really the only element of Minami-ke’s humor that I find sometimes crosses the line into genuine mean-spiritedness.

Another notable element of this week’s episode is that I think it probably had less Minami in it than any I can remember.  It certainly had less Chiaki – I would guess she was on-screen for two minutes tops – and no Minami sisters at all until the 7-minute mark.  Haruka fared better, naturally, as this episode focused on the high-school subset of the cast.  But the real stars were the side characters – Maki, Atsuko, and of course Hosaka himself.  Atsuko especially stood out, and she seems to have fully slipped into the hopelessly bewildered sensible member of the group.  She’s just desperate for people to act in normal and predictable ways, but with a cast like this that’s pretty much always going to lead to disappointment.

Atsuko’s search for answers leads her to conclusion many anime characters have reached – “If there’s no point in thinking, maybe I shouldn’t think at all” – and to Haruka’s house, where Kana and Uchida (why are Kana and Uchida hanging out together without Chiaki?  Perhaps baka-ness transcends age differences…) grill her about her success with guys.  The irony of course is that she has no success with guys, but the two bakas manage to convince themselves that her advice about wearing a royal milk-tea colored coat will make them irresistible.  Possibly the most interesting thing here for me is Kana’s intense interest in having “guys be all over me” – in fact, a few eps back she was intently grilling Haruka for info on her own tastes in boys.  I really don’t think we’ve seen much awareness of the romance side of things from Kana’s perspective before this season, so this is an interesting turn, and she’s certainly the right age for it – but sadly it doesn’t seem to be doing Fujioka any good, as she seems completely oblivious to the possibility that he might be a potential dating partner.

Without question the funniest moment of the episode for me came in the aftermath of Natsuki and Hosaka’s conversation about the morning snowfall (I wish it snowed in Tokyo nearly as much as it does in anime Tokyo).  Funny things always seem to happen when those two oddballs hook up, and here we have Hitomi running into Natsuki after just having left the nurse’s office without buttoning up her top after taking her temperature (the armpit method seems almost universal in Japan).  Classic misunderstanding comedy follows as Natsuki talks about seeing the snow, and Hitomi thinks she’s talking about the cleavage: “It looked so fluffy and soft…  If I were a little younger I would have jumped right in and felt it all around me.  I only wish there had been a bit more volume.”  The funniest part of all this though is the fact that in truth, Natsuki’s reaction to Hitomi’s show is only “You might want to button that up” – yet as soon as Haruka accidentally offers him the same show, he immediately turns into a stammering schoolboy in embarrassment.  Poor Hitomi.

The two final acts take us firs to the Minami household again, where Hayami has sent Atsuko and Maki to search for weaknesses in Haruka so that she can puncture Hosaka’s idealized image of her.  All they really find of interest is that in 4th-grade Kana once climbed into Haruka’s futon and wet the bed (a story Kana is understandably not keen to share) and that anyone who says bad things about Haruka (Kana had shared the fact that she was lazy and impossible to get out of the kotatsu) will be cursed.  It’s too late for Hosaka anyway – he’s fully convinced that she’s a Goddess, and goes on to offer up an entirely irreligious song about Christmas and his own object of worship.  Maybe one day he’ll manage to evade Hayami’s machinations and actually communicate his feelings to her – but that seems about as likely as Fujioka really being Santa Claus.  As I’ve said many times before, I get the feeling sometimes that Minami-ke is just one of those series that doesn’t want people to get together…

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ED3: “Christmas Song” by Daisuke Ono

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  1. S

    Probably my favorite episode of all Minami-ke series. I was laughing constantly and I love ALL of the high school characters. This season really lets them shine.

  2. l

    Funny. You see anything involving Hayami as mean-spirited, while I find the funniest moments of the show in ithem. Contrastingly, I find any scene involving Mako-chan to be a chore. Too overused, too cliche, too trad.

    But enough of that. It was all about the boobs and snow this week. Funniest part for me was when Haruka thought she was too old.

    That final scene with Hosaka talking to the tree was a bit much. I usually laugh at his antics, but that one just made me wince, like watching one of those anime that enjoys demeaning a male lead. Hosaka, as great as he is, needs another character in the skits to 'complete' him. That's why Hayami is essential, imho.

  3. E

    Kana would be dating Fujioka already if it wasn't for Chiaki. That leaf shaped ahoge imouto! But too bad for all the male characters who like Haruka. I don't see her taking interest in romance at all. Hitomi's misunderstanding is really the best one in this episode, but I think none of the episode can compare to the greatness of vegetable song.

  4. H

    I like Hayami's pragmatism and don't mind her playing pranks on Hosaka. It's pretty obvious that Hosaka's not going to do anything about his crush on Haruka (perhaps because his image of her wouldn't actually hold up?) so why not reap the rewards. Maybe it's a bit cynical, but when you see a pattern, you go with it. But then, I don't care for Hosaka much, either, so I don't mind seeing him getting a bit played. Plus, it's not like Hayami's suggestions to Hosaka actually *stop* him from acting on his desires for Haruka. If he gave her the scarf, or any of these lunches he's made for her, or actually ever did anything, she'd probably accept it the way she usually deals with everything, with grace and aplomb. I'm firmly in Maki's camp with how I view Hosaka: "kimochi warui…"

  5. h

    I nearly passed out with all the Atsuko and Hitomi goodness this week.

    Also does Haruka have a thing for Natsuki? : O She was sad when she thought she wasn't young enough for him after all… As you said none of the characters are likely to ever get together though heh

  6. That is possible, but then again, when she gave him the tickets she didn't seem remotely aware of any possible repercussions of the act.

  7. i

    I don't know why but I have always like (like as in the my waiffu style) Atsuko the most of the high school gang. Don't know exactly why but her quiet monotone about her baka friends or goddess friend are something I dig.

    Natsuki's part was the funniest for me because of the way his words switched when presented with Hitomi and then Haruka. I was bursting out when Haruka was bursting out for him and Hitomi's revelation to Haruka was even better.

    Also I started watching Ranma 1/2 for the first time this week out of curiosity for the old favs that drove the industry and can say that I've found Hosaka's lineage in Kuno. They're both supposed to be handsome young men ruined by their ridiculous imagination, bakaness and infatuation. The only difference is that Kuno has actually spoken to the item of his love while Hosaka never has or will.

  8. i

    Not anime news but I recently heard of an 18 year old highschooler in Japan throwing 160 km/hr fastballs who wants to make a move straight to the US. Wonder if he'll be bringing along a cute tomboy with him.

  9. B

    I think I'm in the minority on this site when I say that I just don't care for Hosaka at all. He's had his moments (yes, the vegetable song with Chiaki was epic) but overall I just don't find his bits very funny. The comedy surrounding him is very much a one trick pony and we've seen this trick more than enough at this point.

  10. I tend to agree that Hosaka's humor is a bit on the one-note side, though it's a good note – he's certainly nowhere near as versatile a character as Makoto/-chan. But when we limit his appearances to about 4 per season I find him funny, and occasionally hilarious (like the vegetable song).

  11. R

    I find the morning snow part super funny — I was slapping my desk real hard. Yes, it's about boobs, but there's no offensive or fanservice message there other than some funny jokes that came out from some misinterpretation.

    Enzo, you are very kind — I don't appreciate Hayami's prank on Hosaka. He's a pretty naive — if not stupid — but innocent classmate of hers. I just find that playing with people's emotions is mean to begin with. I am happy to see that Hosaka went off track this week from knitting to worshiping and didn't finish the scarf that Hayami tricked him into knitting.

  12. d

    Natsuki is an impassable wall like XxxHolic's Doumeki, but he always crumbles before the charm of the Banchou.

  13. d

    Hayami seemed like more of a trickster before, not unlike many good lively trolls, but in this episode she was a bit more venal. Unfortunately Hosaka (who I happen to like a great deal) is also more Gimpel the fool. My impression was that before he was just so much more self-absorbed and that anything that deferred his dream was just part of the elliptical path he chose. Characterizing him as a victim is ruining what makes him a king.

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