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  • Forfatterens bildeStephanie

"Oniisama e..." - How to do melodrama and write characters 

Just gonna gush about how good this show is for a bit. So I love Osamu Dezaki, and after having finished watching Ace wo Nerae and Ashita no Joe, my opinion of him as a director just went up even more. That's not so say I thought his previous work was perfect, quite far from it (even if 'Ashita no Joe' came really close). My largest problem with Ashita no Joe was the artsyle, as it didn't really appeal to me that much. While the clearly defined muscles really made the fight scenes more brutal, the weird noses always looked off to me. Ace wo Nerae didn't have that problem at all, as it had an art style I absolutely loved, and getting to see it become all the more polished in "Oniisama e..." is nothing short of breathtaking.

To give a short introduction to the series, "Oniisama e..." is about a girl named Nanako Misonoo. She and her friend Tomoko Arikura have just started their first semester at Seiran Academy. Seiran is of note for one reason: its sorority. A group of select members from the student body, they are essentialy Seiran's upper class. The only way to join the sorority is to be selected for an interview at the start of the year by the senior members of the Sorority itself. While Nanako herself had not even dreamed of joining, much to her suprise, she is nonetheless selected for an interview, and passes. And so begins this truly terrifying, dramatical and heartwrenching story.

To state the things I love the most about the show more clearly, I just adore how well written the characters are. I haven't read the manga, so I don't know how much of this is due to the original mangaka, Ikeda Riyoko and how much is because of Dezaki, but the way the character writing is executed is marvelous. One of the moments in the show which most exemplify the quality of the writing i when Mariko locks Nanoko in her room, and that whole episode in general is just so well done. You really empathise with her when you slowly get to know her family situation and her reaction when Nanako doesn't want to stay with her. I also have a fondness for the archetype of "the cool senpai" characters. You know the ones, they're well educated, gracefull, and usually have blond hair. But what defines them is that they're just better than you and they know it, you know it, everybody knows it. Ace wo Nerae had a cool senpai with long flowing blond hair, and Oniisama e... has a mentally insane senpai who appears cool... with long blond flowing hair. Luckily, there are other senpai who are actually cool, and make me really enjoy the experience of watching it. I do wish that Nanako's parents had gotten some more involvement, but Shinobu's parents get plenty of involvment and development throughout the story, so on further thought, it would most likely have been unnecessary for them to take part in the plot.

Tomoko, Nanoko's friend, is also really well written. What really makes her feel grounded is that she actually gets angry and annoyed at Nanoko because she keeps prioritising the sorority over her. When all this crazy drama, drug abuse and high-school class warfare is going on, it really makes the story feel more real, and as I stated previously, grounded. There isn't really much more to her character, and she is a bit too much of a generic friend, however she's as good as you can possibly do a generic friend character, which I commend Dezaki for. I usually despise melodrama, but I think this show does it really well, because it never goes fully over the top. Sure, there is a lot of crying and shouting, and the aformentioned drug abuse, but it never gets near to the level of something like Love Live Sunshine, where the characters are standing in the ocean, crying, while it's raining with dark clouds. It stays at a healthy amount, and that's great.

A short tidbit I'd like to focus on as well, is the "class warfare" I mentioned. A while ago, I wrote about 'Sakurasou no pet na Kanojo', and I critized it for having a scene where the students of the school literally (not figuratively) rise up against the teachers. As I explained in that post, this is dumb, lame and really, really cringy. 'Onii-sama e...' on the other hand, does this same thing, but with a little recontextualising. By having the students stand up againts other students instead of the teachers, you lose the aspect of the "cringy 10-year old who hates school", and not only make it more down to earth, but also relatable to more people. High schoolers rising up against comically evil teachers? Cringe. High schoolers standing up against other high schoolers who have been using their status and privelege to assert a hierarchy based on class? Absolutely based.

The soundtrack is also fits all the scenes well, as they really help amplify the emotions. The OP and ED are also lovely, thank goodness they aren't generic j-pop songs. I can't wait to watch more of Dezaki's shows and movies. It really saddens me to think about that he died a few years ago, but considering the quality of all the art he produced, I think he definitely had a life well spent. A thing I have realized while sitting through all this anime I've watched, is that Dezaki is an absolute god at making three dimensional, multi faceted characters, and his skill in this regard may only be rivaled by Isao Takahata. Now sadly, both of these men passed away this decade, and it genuinly pains me that we won't get to see their artistic genius produce more art. However, I do try to look positively at it, and I can't wait to see what new creatives we are going to be blessed with during these next few decades. Art like this, truly is what makes life living. I can't die yet.

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