ADV Films // 2001 // 100 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Sandra Dozier (Retired) // February 17th, 2005
Living with thirteen girls is certainly no fantasy on this island!
For a fairly straightforward, formulaic anime (boy comes of age and suddenly inherits a houseload of sisters/moms that he has seemingly never met before), this is certainly a weird story. I keep getting the distinct feeling that someone is trying to animate a dream that he had one night after eating pizza too late in the evening. It's basically coherent, but plot threads come out of the blue and unravel with no previous explanation to the viewer, and Wataru's lack of any substantive interaction with anyone other than his sisters creates a sort of "slide-show sister" effect, where one sister is paraded into frame for a few moments, then shuffled quickly offscreen so another sister can appear for a few minutes. The only time we know what Wataru is thinking is when he communicates with his friend Akio via email, and although he seems to want to escape his suffocating situation, the fact that this never happens really starts to undermine the character of Wataru, making him seem weak and indecisive.
Also, he just isn't a very humble guy. We got some indication of this in the beginning of the series, when Karen takes him to help her select a gift, and he seems to automatically assume it's for him. When she thanks him for the help and puts it away, he's confused and hurt. Of course, the watch does end up being for him eventually, but it's like he goes about everything assuming that he is at the center of whatever is going on. In a way he is, but this second set of four episodes really drives home that fact in an unpleasant way. In one scene, he'll be talking about how he wants to get some space and just be by himself again, and in the next scene he'll be demanding that someone make him lunch, as if he is twelve again and these girls are his moms instead of his sisters. Then there is the slavish devotion of these girls to Wataru, which (so far, at least) is completely unearned -- what has he done to deserve their high, almost worshipful regard?
As Wataru himself says many times in the series, "it can't be true!"
I have to admit that part of what puts me off about series like this is the whole implied incest situation. We don't know that all these girls are really his sisters, but they seem to think they are, and that's enough. Therefore, it's kind of creepy to see them constantly running around in skimpy outfits, posing seductively, and getting themselves into situations that are more suitor-like than sister-like, such as when the sisters pose as brides and lure Wataru into a mock wedding, apparently all for his amusement.
On the other hand, the sisters are probably the best thing about this show. They tend to provide the comic relief, they are very cute, and for anyone inclined to moon over anime characters, there's a sister to fit just about any bill. It's almost as if Wataru's presence is a setup so these girls can turn on the charm and go through their paces. An argument can be made that this series is worth watching just for the girls alone, if all you want to see is endless situations with cute anime girls doing cute anime things, all for the benefit of a hapless social misfit with questionable future prospects. It's a dream come true!
As this is a recent series, the video and audio quality for the DVD transfer is about as good as it gets. Deep colors and a clear, defect-free picture show off the pretty animation. Since the characters are on an island, there are lots of bright colors and sparkling water scenes for eye candy. Sound is also vibrant and active, making use of multiple channels for character voices and some ambient noise. The 5.1 English track is a bit more robust and crisp than its 2.0 Japanese language counterpart, but both are nice and clear. The voice acting for the English dub is really top-notch, and it deserves a spotlight because of the extreme perkiness of the girl characters and the challenge of making Wataru not sound like a mewling oaf. No one phones in their performances, and that is a big part of why I keep watching.
As extras go, this volume has another featurette with the voice talent. This time it's Luci Christian (Yotsuba), Cynthia Martinez (Kaho), and Christine M. Auten (Mami). Again, the big appeal here is actually getting to see the talent behind some of my favorite characters. Seeing Luci Christian, the voice behind the extremely energetic Ran Kotobuki in Super GALs, was quite a treat. Other extras include a reversible cover, which features the Japanese title card (with the "Angel 01" subtitle) and a large picture of Kaho. The box is clear, so the reversible cover also makes an attractive backing, and it has two character bios. The "Letter from Kaho" might be a holdover from the genesis of this series, which was a manga in which the sisters wrote letters to their brother, and the production sketches and clean opening and closing credits are fairly familiar anime series staples.
Although it is eroding somewhat, my curiosity to find out just what the heck is going on with the characters in this series is maintained by this suite of somewhat cryptic, but basically entertaining, episodes. There is just enough off-balanced behavior and general weirdness to pique my interest, so I'll probably keep watching.
Review content copyright © 2005 Sandra Dozier; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Japanese)
* English (signs only)
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* "Letter from Kaho" (Insert)
* Character Bios for Kaho and Yotsuba
* Reversible Cover
* Interviews with English Voice Actors Luci Christian, Cynthia Martinez, and Christine M. Auten
* Clean Open and Ending Animation
* Production Sketches
* TV Tome Show Guide