Let’s face it, Minami-ke Okaeri was failing to impress me. I still haven’t watched the sixth episode, and I will review it when I do and hope that it will be alot better, but I was feeling a little sorry for the current state of the series and didn’t want to believe that it had reached the point of no return. So I decided to go ahead and sample the relatively recent OAD (or ODA, or even OVA if you want to be old-school) I have no idea why Asread were allowed to get two seasons of Minami-ke and an OAD. Doumu, where are you? Their artistry started off okay at the beginning of Okaeri….and then it got weird. In Betsubara too, the characters often look very bizarre, and it’s a little off-putting. Luckily, some artistic issues is the only major downside with Betsubara, and it felt as though I really was watching Minami-ke again. For one thing the ‘episode’ is divided up into segments (about 4 in total), which works a lot better as opposed to making one ‘skit’ go for half an episode and about 5 minutes longer than the point we stopped caring out that skit, like Okaeri is wont to do. Bestubara also gets things right by starting off with Hosaka.
This first skit was great for a variety of reasons… for Hosaka actually showing evidence that something could bother him (i.e, other emotions), for Chiaki and Hosaka meeting in the supermarket again, and for the whole thing to end up as a way to get Chiaki to eat carrots. More on that in a bit.
Hayami manages to prick Hosaka’s enormous ego by telling him that his cooking vastly differs from Haruka’s, as she cooks out of ‘love’ and he cooks out of said ”ego’. Although he laughs it off and leaves, saying that she is ridiculous for thinking so, as soon as he’s out of her sight he gets incredibly visibly pissed.
At the supermarket, Chiaki is buying ingredients for a meat stew Haruka will make, and hesitates in front of the carrots, which were on the list, due to her immense hatred for them. I think Chiaki is crazy, personally, because I cant understand how anyone could hate carrots. As she ponders, Hosaka appears, and announces all the value that carrots hold, from their visuals to their nutrients, and most ‘importantly’, that they are full of love. As he leaves, Chiaki is inspired by his words and buys the carrots after all, and that night, actually eats some, as Haruka and Kana watch in awe.
Revitalized from the Magic of Carrots, Hosaka brings his latest culinary achievement for Hayami to test. Except she doesn’t really want to so he commits what I can only really see as some kind of food-rape, that is, pinning her down and force-feeding her, with his dialogue (‘say aaah, say aaah’) mixed with Hayami’s screaming sounding fantastically wrong out of context.
The next part revolves around Mako-chan and his increasing feeling of insecurity; that he thinks Yoshino may have found out that he’s really Makoto and not a girl. Kana furthers this fear by putting forth the theory that Yoshino hasn’t revealed Mako-chan’s identity to anyone else because she finds the idea of Makoto in girls clothing too funny, and it would no longer be funny if it were revealed. He tries to avoid Yoshino by cleaning the Minami’s bath, however his plan backfires when she comes to help him. The funny thing about the Mako-chan/Yoshino dilemma is that the audience themselves are never completely sure if Yoshino actually does know or not.
The next two skits are Valentines-day themed; the first with a focus on the girls and the second with a focus on the boys. In the first one, Kana has organised something of a ‘talk show’ at home where she, Chiaki, Touma and Uchida can learn all about boys and love from the self-declared ‘authority’ on the subject, Maki. I was waiting for Maki’s appearance in Betsubara, so I’m glad she got quite a decent one. Kana causes the girls to lose motivation to listen one by one, first by saying Chiaki should be excluded for being too young, then Touma for having a different ‘culture’ surrounding Valentines (she is used to receiving chocolate from boys, ie her brothers), and then Ushida for being thick as usual. With all of the audience save Kana ‘out’, it is then revealed that Maki actually has no good experiences with Valentines Day at all.
After Haruka comes back with some chocolate she got for them, Fujioka turns up, so there is a rather amusing little scene where the girls all try to hide all evidence of the chocolate before he comes in. According to Maki, it is against some kind of rule to let boys see any Valentine’s Preparations. (today being a few days before Valentine’s Day)
The next skit is Fujioka-centered; rounding out this OAD as including most of the key components of Minami-ke (Hosaka and his unrequited love for Haruka, Mako-chan, Maki, Chiaki’s oddly stupid friends and now Fujioka and his unrequited love for Kana. I think the only things really missing are Hosaka laughing/fantasizing and Maki saying ‘kimochi warui’ and perhaps an appearance from the other Minamis. Well, there’s also that uncle guy, but he’s pretty boring.)
Whilst walking down the street, Fujioka sees Hosaka proclaiming some valentines preparations of his own, which was hands down my favourite part of the episode. I forgive Asread for the ‘quality’ in this OAD a little as they used all they used higher production values in this sequence. Commence screencap barrage;
Hosaka really is the greatest male character in a ‘school’ comedy, ever. His dramatic little sparkly twirl there almost looked like a magical girl transformation, and it made me laugh so much I actually rewound it and watched it a few more times.
Back at the Minami house, Fujioka gets teased by Maki over his crush on Kana, but she encourages him to do what he can and to do his best. Thus Fujioka tries to help Kana at school, but his help is always unnecessary (when he offered to carry something for her, it was only a small book, and when he thought she was on an errand and offered to do it for her, she was going to the toilet). His behaviour leads Kana to think that that he is exhausted, so the next day she gives him some chocolate which she believes to be good for tired people. The problem is, today is Valentines Day itself, and Kana has completely forgotten…. however she has just made one boy unbelievably happy.
Oh, and Hosaka? Apparently his plan was to have his arms open (without holding onto chocolate from other girls that could upset Haruka…whether he ever got this chocolate is another matter) with a rose, which would undoubtedly entice her into his arms. Seems like he stood there like that for the rest of the day… Oh Hosaka.
In all I’m quite pleased with Betsubara; it was-rounded and nicely structured and included a lot of the components I love about Minami-ke. I’m glad that Hosaka got such a large part in it as well; these are some great new memorable scenes for him. Unfortunately, Asread’s animation leaves a lot to be desired. But I can overlook that (a little) as long as the show is funny, so they win this round. Out of 5,