Two girls, one guy, and at least some of the people think he's gay, but that's not really the story. It's too bad, because Judge Sandra Dozier was curious to see an anime version of John Ritter.
One lonely guy. Two hyper-cute girls. One of 'em is his sister. Uh oh.
The title of this anime may sound familiar to those who have watched its big sister anime, Please Teacher!. Although Please Twins! borrows some story elements from Please Teacher! and involves kids who attend the same school, it's a brand-new story and would appeal just as much (maybe more?) to those who have never seen the first series as those who have.
Facts of the Case
The protagonist is Maiku Kamishiro, an teenaged orphan who has returned to what he believes is his childhood home. All he has as evidence of this is a photograph of himself and his sister playing in a kiddie pool in the backyard of the house. It was by chance that he saw the house on a news broadcast, but he seized the opportunity, found the house, and secured contract work as a programmer so that he can afford to rent it and still go to high school.
Only two months after settling in, Maiku answers the doorbell and greets his destiny: a girl named Miina Miyafuji, who insists she is his sister. She also has the photograph, and it turns out they both have the same color eyes—a rich aqua blue. They know this doesn't prove they are siblings, but Miina wants to live there anyway, and her spitfire personality will not allow her to take no for an answer. This might be enough, but fate intervenes one more time in the form of Karen Onodera, a slight girl with a tendency to pass out when she gets nervous or excited. Karen also shows up on Maiku's doorstep claiming to be his sister, and she also has the same rare eye color. However, since the picture only shows one sister, which one of these girls is actually Maiku's sister, and which one is the stranger?
Maiku, who hides his vulnerability with a lot of gruff blustering, has always longed for a family; even though it's an unusual situation, he finally decides to welcome Miina and Karen into his home. He'll continue to work if they will keep house. Of course, both of them realize that they need to pull their weight financially as well, so their quest for part-time jobs begins almost immediately. Since both are teenagers themselves, there aren't many opportunities, but Maiku lends a hand by talking to all the people he knows (even his gay classmate Kousei Shimazaki, who won't stop coming on to Maiku) and finally securing a lead through class president Ichigo Morino.
Since the house itself is located in an area known for its UFO activity, no one is surprised when a little creature shows up and starts eating Karen's favorite snack food, Prech. All they know is that its name is Marie (Mar-ee-ay), and it has been seen around this area several times. Only Maiku seems freaked out that it keeps appearing, seemingly to watch over Karen or Miina, or maybe both of them.
There is a lot to like about this series, starting with the animation. The visuals are so gorgeous, it's almost worth watching for that alone. Colors pop, landscapes dazzle, and even backgrounds are glossy and interesting. Fortunately, the story is pretty compelling, too. Maiku is definitely on some sort of spiritual journey. He seeks out what he hopes is his childhood home not out of a sense of nostalgia, but mostly as a way to discover himself by discovering his past. He has narrowed his focus down to only the essentials: school, so the orphanage won't take away their permission for him to live alone, and programming, so he has money to afford the rent. Even the advances made by the cute upperclassman Tsubaki Oribe go unanswered—when she offers to make his lunches for a week or let him take her on the date, he says, "Sorry, but I think I'll take the lunches."
Clearly, Maiku needs something in his life to shake him up and chip away that tough armor. That's where Miina and Karen come in.
The series earns its "16 and up" age recommendation with its mature sexual themes. Since none of the three know who is the sibling and who is the stranger, their imaginations run wild. Both of the girls imagine Maiku as their savior, their knight and protector. Both of them imagine that, if he is not their beloved brother, then he'll at least be their beloved. This creates some weird sexual tension in their house, especially when free-spirited Miina starts relaxing her dress code and Maiku gets more of an eyeful than what he bargained for. There's also a bit of this type of tension between the two girls, at least at first, and when Karen accidentally opens a door that Miina is leaning against, causing Miina to fall flat on her back between her legs, Miina gets more of an eyeful than she was expecting, as well.
Despite the sexual hijinks, there's no overt nudity and it always stops short of being too creepy. The suggestion of an incestuous relationship is just that: suggestion. Maiku, for his part, doesn't fantasize the way the girls do…to him, they are already family, even though there is only one sister in the picture.
The half-alien, half-human Mizuho Kazami appears in this series as Maiku's daffy but kind teacher, carrying over from her role in Please Teacher!. Her appearances in the first four episodes could be considered cameos at best, since she doesn't have much screen time (the story is definitely about Maiku, Miina, and Karen). However, in a nod to the former series, she invites Maiku over for dinner sometime, and he declines, saying that it will inconvenience her husband…cut to a scene in which a student walking down the hall sneezes suddenly. Fans of Japanese culture will recognize this as an indication that the student is the husband in question (the superstition is that you sneeze when someone is talking about you), which sounds creepy and indecent, but Mizuho's backstory is that she fell in love with an 18-year-old who is still attending school because he would go into a coma if overexcited and at one point he was in a coma for a few years. As is a common practice in Japan, he is still attending regular school to make up for the years lost due to his medical condition. This makes it merely weird, but officially "safe" in the eyes of the law.
Volume One of Please Twins! has four episodes, which, as previously mentioned, look great. The transfer does the glossy animation justice by being clear and free of defects. Sound quality is pleasing, with a 2.0 surround track that makes good use of the surround channels, especially for music, in both the original Japanese and the well-done English dub. I liked all the character voices, especially for Maiku, in the English dub, but one particular joke didn't translate very well. Whenever you see Haruko and her weirdo brother, I recommend switching to the original Japanese track, where their sickly sweet banter comes off much better. It's hard to define, but there's just something about the niceties and formality of the way the Japanese interact that just cannot be duplicated in English, even though the two voice actors put in a game performance. As for extras, four image video tracks are included (music inspired by the series and set to animation from the series), and there is also a promotional clip that introduces the series and briefly shows the backstory of Mizuho and Kei (Kusanagi, the husband) and some trailers for other ADV titles. The postcard that comes as an insert shows the three main characters at the lake with, appropriately enough, the alien Marie, who always has a lifesaver regardless of the proximity of water.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Anyone who is offended by the incest fetish suggested by Please Twins! should probably steer clear of this title. As was the case with Please Teacher!, which titillated with the taboo theme of the hot teacher/geeky student pair, Please Twins attempts the same "we're just having fun" type of stimulation. It's pretty PG-rated stuff (the series played in a 6:30 pm time slot in Japan), but it shouldn't be sugar-coated, either—Please Twins! plays with themes that may be very disturbing for some, so be careful when checking out this title if this is an issue.
This is a nice little character study and a watchable dramedy. The mystery of who Maiku's parents were and which one of the girls might be his sister should be interesting to follow, and there seems to be some suggestion that Mizuho fits into the picture somewhere, since she seems to be very protective of the trio. Even if you didn't like Please Teacher!, consider giving this series a try—it's a different story altogether, just set in the same universe.
We'll overlook any infractions this time, as long as Maiku will do a little free programming for us in exchange for our silence.
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