Sister Princess Box Set (Thinpak) -

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Mania Grade: B-

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: TV PG
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 49.98
  • Running time: 650
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Sister Princess

Sister Princess Box Set (Thinpak)

By Mark Thomas     April 21, 2008
Release Date: June 20, 2006

Sister Princess Box Set (Thinpak)
© ADV Films

What They Say
Wataru Minakami was at the top of his class in middle school and had a pretty comfy life in Tokyo. When he unexpectedly fails his only high school entrance exam because of a computer glitch, his life is suddenly thrown into utter chaos! Jeeves, Wataru's trusted butler, sends him off to attend school at Stargazer's Hill in a mysterious place called Promised Island. Upon his arrival, Wataru encounters many friendly, cute girls. This isn't a problem " until he finds out they are all his sisters! For most kids, adjusting to life at a new school in a different town is tough enough. But for Wataru Minakami, high school will be the easy part! Twelve sisters all at once... What would YOU do?

The Review!
Take one high school boy, add twelve sisters he did not know he had, and the result is a cute story with a number of feel-good moments.

For this viewing, I watched the English dub, which is offered in 5.1. The Japanese track is available in 2.0. For a niche anime based mostly on conversation, I was surprised that it was given a full 5.1 treatment, but it is a nice touch. Even with the surround treatment, there is little directionality on display, but the sound is clear and had no dropout anywhere. I particularly enjoyed the voice acting in this one as each of the girls was given their own very specific voice. From Yotsuba's English accent to Mami's rasp to Hinako's childlike voice, no two of the sisters sound alike. It is a nice touch that adds to the individuality of each of the characters.

This show looks really good, both visually and technically. There is a really nice contrast of bold, bright colors for characters and foreground objects and softer, subdued colors for the background; these colors transferred beautifully in this release as no blending or artifacting were present. I also liked how the artist used the same face for all of the siblings, Wataru included, and yet still managed to give them their own individual look. Anime with an abundance of characters, in particular female characters, usually struggle with repetition in the looks of those characters, but that is not the case here.

Sister Princess has fairly standard packaging for an ADV thinpak. Each side of the box has pictures of a few of the sisters on a purple motif, with some on the spine and bottom as well, though it seems Haruka and Hinako get the shaft. The bottom of the box also had the set technical details, and the insert has a picture of Sakuya blowing a kiss along with the series summary.

The cases for the first four discs have a picture of three of the girls on the front; the last disc has a nice picture of Wataru with each of the sisters. On the backs of the cases are screen shots from the various episodes on each disc, along with the technical details and a list of each episode on that disc. Overall, this set has a pleasant design, though is nothing particularly special.

I liked the menu designs for this one. Taking up much of the screen, each main menu has a picture of one of the sisters, and a list of each individual episode set on a bright background. At the bottom of the page are selections for Setup and DVD credits. Mirroring the theme of the show, the selection highlight is a small heart. The menus fit well with the attitude of the series and look pretty nice.

Like most ADV thinpaks, there are no extras on this set.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Wataru Minakami is a fairly typical, ambitious student: studious, high academic scores, and little social skills. But he does not care; with his friends Akio and Minai, he is going to go to the top of the world. Add that he independently wealthy, and we have a fairly cocksure young man. That is until a scoring error denies his acceptance into a prestigious high school, and since he was arrogant about his success, it was the only high school to which he applied.

Yet when he gets home, he finds that he has been mysteriously accepted into a school on Promised Island. Before he knows how to react, his house staff whisks him away to the Island and leaves him to fend for himself. While wandering around the town, he makes the acquaintance of four cute, young girls who find him interesting, and he begins to think that perhaps his luck with girls is turning around.

A lack of housing on the island places him in a large complex called Welcome House, where he finds those same girls waiting to welcome him home and call him big brother. When eight more girls quickly show up, the previously alone Wataru suddenly finds himself with twelve younger sisters who each want nothing more than to make his life easy. While it takes him some time to come to grips with these new revelations, he ultimately accepts, and enjoys, his new, less demanding, life.

Sister Princess is a bit of an odd entry into the harem genre. Despite the fairly typical harem setup, and the occasional, innocent double-entendre, there is really no sexual tension, perversion, or other fan service on display here. Instead, though the sisters are a bit obsessive towards Wataru, this anime plays more to the pure, close bond relationship between siblings, and the humor is geared more towards light hearted, sweet moments than depraved misunderstandings. As such, Sister Princess would probably play much better to a YA female audience than to a thirty-year-old male, such as myself.

I think my favorite part of this show is how well the twelve sisters are complete individuals. On top of sounding and looking completely different, each girl has her own niche of interests and disinterests that are separate from the others. Rin Rin is an accomplished engineer while Mamoru is a terrific athlete, Haruka enjoys traditional Japanese ceremonies, and Chikage is a mystic. Yet the part of their individuality that I particularly thought was well done was how they each had their own way of addressing Wataru, from Hinako's 'Bro Bro,' to Yuna's 'Mon Frère' on Karen's simple 'Big Brother.' It is small touches like these that really build the individual personalities of each sister.

Additionally, the separate relationship that Wataru builds with each girl is just as varied. He adjusts well to each of their quirks and builds a strong bond with each one, making himself available to each as much as possible. The most interesting dynamic is the one he has with Sakuya, the 'typical teenager' sister. Sakuya's situation is the one instance in the show where a sister develops something a little more than 'brother/sister' feelings, yet she is also well aware and openly acknowledges that those feeling cannot be acted upon. While Wataru does not return those feelings, I think the show does a good job touching on that idea without crossing the line into creepiness.

Another interesting move is based in the design of the show: I really liked how the creators used color to separate Wataru's old life in Tokyo versus his new life on Promised Island. Tokyo is shown in little more than a palette of grays and dull colors. The mass of humanity hurriedly walking the streets is little more than a collection of gray, soulless blobs. The flip side is that Promised Island is full of bright colors and sunny days. Each person has their own individual look, and everybody is constantly happy. These small artistic choices help reinforce the positives of Wataru's new life and how dreary his old life was.

However, it is the very nature of the target audience that poses what can be considered a major problem with this show. A feminist analysis of this show would suggest that Sister Princess reinforces the concept that the best place for a girl is to make sure she keeps the man in her life happy. While this concept is true for any anime in the harem genre, most harem shows are designed to play to typical male fantasies. Yet when you take the same setup and aim it towards a young, female audience, that concept gets a little stickier.

It is not just the attitudes of the girls, but the attitude of the entire show that plays this concept. In many ways, Sister Princess feels like a fairy tale. These twelve girls have spent their lives trapped on this island waiting for their big brother to show up and basically validate their entire existence. When he does finally arrive, each of their lives completely revolves around him and his wishes. Every action they make is purely designed to make his life better, and as long as he can find just a little bit of time to spend with them, they are perfectly happy. This relationship is portrayed in a positive light. There is very little present in this show that is not light hearted, and even when the occasional negative thing happens, the feeling is always that the situation will quickly correct itself. They look to Wataru for protection, and in turn they basically do everything else.

Of course, it can be argued that Sister Princess is nothing more than one in a long line of stories and TV shows that play up this concept. It can also be said that Wataru returns the love and favors of his sisters in every way he can, and so the relationship is balanced. Yet these counter arguments do not completely negate the original thought. In the end, it is really up to the viewer to decide for him/herself if this relationship/dynamic is positive or a negative one.

In Summary:
Sister Princess is a cute show that would probably play well to a younger, possibly idealistic, female audience. It could also potentially be a good one for parents to watch with their children as there is really nothing here that could be considered offensive. While I have a bit of an issue with the idea of harem comedy ideologies being targeted towards girls, those who do not tend to think about things as much as I may not. While not fantastic, Sister Princess is a fairly fun, sweet show that those in the target demographic would probably enjoy much more than I. Mildly recommended.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Magnavox 37MF337B 37" LCD HDTV, Memorex MVD2042 Progressive Scan w/ DD/DTS (S-Video Connection), Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System


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