Everyone was speculating about how AnimeSols would do and what would happen when funding came down to the wire. We’ve now seen people rally and make titles like Creamy Mami the Magical Angel and Black Jack happen while others were stopped short.
Consider this post an encouragement to fund the recent addition to the AnimeSols line-up, Dear Brother. This is the type of show I believe AnimeSols should be courting, it fits perfectly. Dear Brother is a classic, it is fairly well-known, and the original manga is from Riyoko Ikeda creator of The Rose of Versailles. The anime was adapted by Tezuka Productions and directed by the indomitable Osamu Dezaki.
Dear Brother, influencer of so much that came after it, is a seminal shojo anime that might actually blow your mind.
The Rose of Versailles has always been the big name title that everyone in the US knows Riyoko Ikeda for. The Rose of Versailles was the series that was mega popular in France. It was the anime that made Utena what it was. For the longest time it was the holy grail of anime and manga. The manga had a bilingual release that only had 2 volumes ever released and what little that did come out eventually became a collector’s item. The anime always had a strong vocal fanbase but never could seem to be licensed. Riyoko Ikeda has done other work but really how many people do you know demanding the The Window of Orpheus or Eikou no Napoleon – Eroica?
But in between the rock star popularity of The Rose of Versailles and the almost total obscurity Claudine…! was another title by Ikeda. It was popular enough in Japan to get an anime. It had a lesser known but equally powerful influence on Utena. It had a distinct following of fans due to its yuri themes. A renown director and production company caught a few eyes as well. So Oniisama e… has a distinct but far smaller audience. I think most of the time the Oniisama e… fans decided to pull for The Rose of Versailles with the hopes that if that could get licensed and do well then Dear Brother could hopefully ride in the slipstream of its more popular sister.
But now the The Rose of Versailles anime was licensed by Nozomi Entertainment. Dear Brother is even streaming in Viki. The only has one last hurdle to cross in English. That is the physical release of the anime. So Anime Sols is trying just that with a Kickstarter styled attempt to get the release crowd funded. As fans of the series we figured we would try to sell you on the show in hopes that it can make its goal.
The series is awesome so this should be very easy.
Mean girls in shojo manga? They’ve always existed, but you’ve met your match with the girls of Dear Brother. The social hierarchy of high school ready to devour unsuspecting women is on full display. Who will survive?
The first rule of Dear Brother is everything can be, and often is, dramatic. EVERYTHING. Whether you are riding the bus, painting your nails, eating cake, or writing a letter. They like to punctuate these life changing incidents with an intense plucking of violin strings and a still frame.
Sure I’m presenting all this with levity but Dear Brother is no comedy. Even if you find yourself laughing at during these tense moments like I do, you’ll also find yourself completely riveted.
As I mentioned before Dear Brother is what I assumed Maria Watches Over Us would be like. While Maria Watches Over Us is the polite social drama parts of Downton Abbey then Dear Brother is the best parts of Game of Thrones (with less dragons). In other words Dear Brother is the dramatic lesbian school girl anime you deserve.
Dear Brother is a series where it is always pouring when people have fateful meetings so it can reflect the tears in there eyes and the pain in their hearts (and so people can throw umbrellas out the window of their limo like one would drop money on the dresser for a prostitute.) Everyone has a dark secret, a forbidden love, and a dangerous vice. There are drugs, slap fights, political maneuvering, and drama all around. There is also love, betrayal, and friendship in the most unlikely of places.
But it is not all over the top. Many times it is what is not said that is just as important as what is screamed. A little look, a choked back interjection, or a stony silence is often used to say volumes about character relationships in a way that someone pontificating about their emotions could not convey with 5 minutes of dialog. The lighting, camera angles, and music also tell much of the story as anything obviously in the foreground. The subtle backs up the bombastic and lets them both reinforce each other.
Dear Brother may have more influence on Revolutionary Girl Utena than any other, yet we so rarely talk about it! From the school politics to the use of light and shadow, you’ll be tripping over similarities as you watch Dear Brother.
Unmistakably, the influence for Nanami is Misaki with her troupe of yes-women and her guile for Nanako ability to attract people and attain goals above her social standing. Misaki’s signature outfit is even yellow.
Sexuality is a big piece to Utena and the variables of such are a big part of Dear Brother, too, seen especially in androgynous characters like Kaoru and Rei.
While there may be some minor architectural influences by The Rose of Versailles on Ohtori Academy in Utena they are trifling as compared to how much the Seiran School has influenced the look of where Utena goes to school. The European influenced architecture which separates it from the normal Japanese aesthetic and makes the campus seem very other worldly from the outside. There is also the large amounts of greenery worked into the structures all over the campus which further separates it from the rest of the very urbanized city. The covered walkways and huge pane glass windows in every building that allow for dramatic lighting whenever it is needed. Music rooms for both atmospheric music, displays of artistic flourish, conspiratorial conversations, and romantic interludes. There are echoes of Dear Bother’s school all over Utena.
Also you can see the roots of many characters in Utena stem from Dear Brother. There are parts of Rei Asaka and Kaoru Orihara in both Juri and Utena with their princely attitudes but troubled pasts. Mariko Shinobu’s obsessive affections can be seen in Kozue. Tomoko Arikura’s simple and supportive friendship feels much like Wakaba’s as well. Oscar François de Jarjayes’ influence on Utena herself is unmistakable but it would be a crime not to notice how the Dear Brother cast also made their mark on the show.
In fact we will almost assuredly write a follow up article to this detailing all the ways that Utena has been influenced by this show when we watch the show to completion.
Hopefully if you ever heard of the show before this point you will be intrigued to watch a few episodes for free on Anime Sols. If you like what you see please a little support especially if your a fan of classic shojo or yuri.