I don't mean my brother
If you're a fan of shoujo-ai like Maria-sama ga Miteru
then you might enjoy Dear Brother
. I learned about it during the Anime Sols panel at Otakon, and you can watch the entire series on their site
. It's 39 episodes and I've burned through 22 episodes since I started watching it Monday.So SPOILER ALERT...
I'm going to talk about Dear Brother
and compare it to Maria-sama ga Miteru,
because, well I am. I love the latter and I'm greatly enjoying the former. If you've seen neither show, stop here. If not, hopefully the below will entice you to try it.
If you know Maria-sama
, then this setup might sound a bit familiar to you: Dear Brother
is about a girl, Nanako, who enters the prestigious all-girls Seiran Academy. As she makes her high school debut, she finds herself a candidate for the very elite Sorority group and makes it in. She meets some very elegant shoujo ladies -- a princely type character, Kaoru Orihara and a tragic character who is known at the school as Saint-Just-sama. Dear Brother
was created by Riyoko Ikeda, who you might know better as the creator of The Rose of Versailles
, which is often credited as the inspiration for Revolutionary Girl Utena
. I guess Ikeda also did a lot of groundwork that you eventually see in shoujo-ai series. This anime is a 90s show and the artwork shows, but I don't mind it. I rather like it. It's a breath of fresh air compared to a lot of the moe samey-faced looking anime shows that are out there right now. It being the 90s, they talk on giant wireless phones and write letters instead of texting.
Speaking of letter writing. The reason for the title is because Nanako is narrating the story via a series of letters that she writes to her Oniisan, who is not (but is, but isn't) her actual Oniisan. For the record, he is(n't).
Where Dear Brother
differ though is in how dark Dear Brother
gets. In Maria-sama
, Sachiko picks Yumi to be her petite seour
and much of the student body, who fawns over Sachiko, never really bullies Yumi about suddenly becoming a lady rose out of nowhere (probably because they'd hate to loose Sachiko's aloof favor towards them), but Nanako gets bullied for her candidacy into the Sorority. She's not worthy and everyone thinks she's bought her way in. She gets a nice box of razor blades in her shoe cabinet after school as a gift. Her gym clothes are torn up. In elegant shoujo fashion, she gets throw up against the wall and slapped by upperclassmen.
If you've watched Maria-sama
you might remember the story about Sato Sei supposedly writing a novel depicting two star-crossed lesbian lovers going off to commit a double suicide at the school (something like that). Everyone even thought that was her deal. So, where that was a dramatic piece of fiction (not written by Sei) for the Lillian girls to sigh and swoon over, it's actually something that happened to one of the characters in Dear Brother
There are some parallels I saw in characters -- these are probably more superficial, but Maria-sama is the guide that I can compare Dear Brother too. Obviously, like Yumi and her entrance into the Rose Mansion, Nanako's depicted as an average student -- she's middle class, good-natured, and meant to be the conduit in which we experience much of the elite world of the Sorority.
Saint-Just-sama feels similar to Sato Sei. Both of them had undying loves and heartbreak, but whereas Sei chopped her hair off and adopted a carefree attitude to hide her feelings, Saint-Just sama turned to drugs. It's not even implied. She smokes and regularly pops painkillers and sedatives (all at the same time) to try and take the edge off. Everyone at school knows it too, but they don't care cause she does as she pleases, dresses like Beethoven, and looks damn cool. There's even one scene where Nanako's sent to get drugs from her to help Kaoru out. Speaking of Kaoru Orihara, the princely character, she reminds me of a combination of Rei and Yoshino. She's the sporty type (basketball) and she went through some kind of chest surgery in the past. Miya-sama reminds me of Yoko, kinda. In season 2 of Maria-sama it was hinted that Yoko helped everyone out around her, but she seemed a bit cold about it. There's still this sense that behind her smirk she's still a good person, but Miya-sama is, to put it nicely, diabolical. She screws with people's feelings, lives in her own past, and doesn't seem above offing people that slight her. If Miya's crazy, then wait till you meet Mariko Shinobu -- she's, to use the clinical term, "cray cray." She has Shimako's doll-like prettiness and Sachiko's hatred of men dialed up to eleven. Oh, remember how Sachiko was all aloof and tried to fit in with her daycare classmates by watching the same TV shows or taking the bus instead of the family car, but she still didn't make any friends anyway? Mariko's got that dialed up to a million and it leads to one of my favorite scenes in the show.
So yeah, because I can draw so many parallels between both shows, I really enjoy Dear Brother
, and without any more Maria-sama
(for me) it's a decent stand in. Maria-sama
implies a lot of the darker aspects of life but never really went there; Dear Brother
dives right in. I still can't believe Nanako can remain so cheerful after what she's seen and the attempts on her life, but that could speak to her resilience -- I guess. She should probably really transfer schools.
I'm looking forward to watching more.