Brothers Conflict (Or How Reverse Harems Are Melting My Brain)

PS – There are lots of spoilers below.  Watch the show first and then come back and read this.  Or, don’t and just refrain from yelling at me when I tell you the ending.

I don’t know why, but I love reverse harems.  The smart girl inside of me, you know, the one who likes to have intelligent conversations about religion and politics (aka, the two things you should probably NEVER have conversations about unless you enjoy fist fights), says I should hate reverse harems because they are shows with no plot, with a bunch of dudes throwing themselves at one girl.  But then, the regular girl inside of me says, “LOOK A BUNCH OF DUDES THROWING THEMSELVES AT ONE GIRL, I MUST WATCH THEM ALL!”  Rather than fight it, I just give in.  I have no shame.  I love reverse harems.

I mean, look at all the “regular” harem shows that have one guy surrounded by a bunch of women.  This genre is ridiculously popular.  Every guy seems to want to have a girlfriend or two.  Or ten.  And, recently, the female population has been flipping the tables.  Us girls want our harems, too.  Who wouldn’t want a bunch of men to fall madly in love with them for absolutely no reason?  Must be tough.  All these chocolate covered strawberries and flowers and kisses, what’s a girl to do?  Well, if you’re not submissive as all hell, you’d revel in it.  Unfortunately, most reverse harem girls can’t seem to process all the attention they receive in a positive way, and such is the case with the protagonist in Brothers Conflict.

This anime aired in 2013 with twelve episodes and an OVA based off of manga, light novels, video games…the franchise is extremely well-received…in Japan.  And it’s all based around a girl named Ema (whose name you never hear in the anime, in fact, I thought it was “Chii” until I read an episode description) whose dad remarries a woman who has 13 sons.  Yes.  Thirteen.  If you guessed that every single one of them falls in love with the main character, you would be right.  And, thus, ends the plot.  There are so many things that could have been explained: like how one woman could pop out twelve children (one is adopted) and then leave her husband to marry someone else.  WHO’S THE DADDY?  Is it one person, or several?  None of this is ever even mentioned, but it’s the first thing that came to mind.  How are the brothers getting all this money to live in a “condo” that has five levels and multiple balconies?  Why are most of them living together?  Sure, one is a doctor, one is a lawyer, one is a pop star…but why wouldn’t they just cut the other brothers off and live in nicer places by themselves?  And the single brother who did move out makes a bunch of money and lives in a tiny apartment.  I don’t get it.  Luckily, they all have cute character designs, including Ema, and everything is colorful, which makes Brothers Conflict a joy to watch.  And despite the lack of a plot, I really enjoyed this show.  And now you’re all judging.  Keep your pants on.

You have to move past the creepy, almost-incest factor.  You have to move past the plot holes and the unexplained issues, like why Ema’s pet squirrel can talk and only two people can understand him.  Actually…don’t, because Juli is the most annoying part of the series, and I continuously wanted someone, ANYONE, to smash him into a wall.  But if you take it as what it was clearly meant to be, a piece of reverse harem fluff, it’s decent.  I admit to sitting here trying to rationalize who would be the best match for the main character.  Because she has as much personality as a box of rocks, she’d need someone to take care of her, who wouldn’t push her around too much, and who would respect her space.  Which eliminates about half of the brothers right there, as a whole handful of them make out (or try to make out) with her throughout the series.  I mean, as much as my stomach dropped when Tsubaki (that’s the white haired twin out of a set of triplets who brushes his hair over one eye…, really, that’s how you have to categorize all these brothers…by hair color and style) decided to “claim” Ema, she’s too damned submissive for him.  Let’s be real, she lets him kiss her at least three times and doesn’t push him away or anything.  Throughout the latter half of the series, she claims she wants to be a real “family” with all her new brothers, and loves them…as brothers…but that doesn’t do anything for each guy who loves her “as a man.”  This quote is brought up multiple times.  And they all say they’ll wait until she realizes she wants to sleep with one or more of her stepbrothers.  IT’S SO CREEPY.  I BOUGHT RIGHT INTO IT.

This isn’t some Pupa-style shit going on, it’s more along the lines of Marmalade Boy, except they wouldn’t have to hide anything from their parents because the parents don’t even live with them.  There are so many different personality types for the brothers that you can’t help going, “I’d totally date him.  Or this one.  But not him, he’s too boring.  This dude is a giant creeper, pass.  Oh, but even though he’s a creeper, but he just wants to be loved…”  Great for a video game.  Bad for my psyche.  In reality, there aren’t a bunch of random guys that one girl would live with so she could have her pick of the litter.  A giant box of boys isn’t going to be dropped on my doorstep where I could coo over each one, keep the ones I want, and then drop the rest off at the Humane Society.  But this is just what Ema gets, and, in true reverse harem fashion, she decides to send them all back at the end.  She doesn’t want anything to do with any of them in a romantic way.  Which A: is a total fucking cop out, and B: sets up a second season nicely because all the brothers don’t even care and are still going to go after her like she didn’t just say, “STEP OFF!”  I suppose I have to give her a few points for effort for at least telling the guys that she didn’t want to date them, whereas in other reverse harems, the girl says NOTHING, and every one just goes about their stalker business, but, come on.  Nobody?  She could have tag teamed those twins, and I’m almost positive they would have been okay with it.

Despite all of its shortcomings, I enjoyed the ride I went on while watching Brothers Conflict.  Get your goddamned minds out of the gutter.  I liked being able to weed through so many boys and pick out the ones I liked best, the ones Ema should like best, the ones that needed more screen time…and I liked that the show didn’t push one coupling over the other.  It’s a good show to watch when you need to turn your brain off.  Hey, some people watch Gurren Lagann for that.  I watch Brothers Conflict.  I didn’t want to punch Ema in the face as much as I wanted to for the girls from Uta Pri or Amnesia, so that was a giant plus.  And the boys actually had balls and made moves, unlike other reverse harems.  It wasn’t anything ground breaking, but I liked it.  It’s for the girls (and boys) who want the box of orphan kittens left on their doorstep.  My doorbell is broken, though, so please knock.

And for those who are wondering, I think Ema should date Natsume.  Yeah, I went there.  But my favorites were Tsubaki and Futo.  I guess that says more about my psyche than the fact that I like mind-numbing reverse harem anime, huh?

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