Since I started doing these reviews, I notice that I’ve pretty much kept the topics to those that would appeal to a more guy-based demographic. Nothing wrong with that since both guys and girls enjoy a bit of action/sports/drama/horror etc. but I thought that perhaps I should represent for the girls this time around and go with the most obvious choice – a reverse harem based on a novel series that became an otome game that became a manga that became an anime! It doesn’t get more girl-centric than that so how about we get to it?
Brothers Conflict (BroCon) is based on a novel series that was created by Atsuko Kanase, written by Takeshi Mizuno and drawn by Udajo. The novel series was later adapted into 2 PSP games (Brilliant Blue and Passion Pink), a yon-koma manga series (yon = 4, koma = cells/frames) and an anime series. The anime series was brought to us by Brain’s Base studio, who has been responsible for a number of other reverse harem animes (e.g. Amnesia and Dance With Devils) but they shouldn’t be stereotyped because they have also brought us gems like Baccano!, Durarara!!, D-Frag!, Natsume Yuujin-cho and Aoharu x Kikanjuu. The dubbed version of the anime has also started airing recently, so if you like your dubs, then you’re in luck!
Some of the shows that Brain’s Base has brought us over the years
This show obviously falls under the romance/reverse harem genre but you would be surprised at how many big name seiyuus come to the party with these shows. In this one alone we have the likes of Hirakawa Daisuke, Suwabe Junichi, Okamoto Nobuhiko, Suzumura Kenichi, Toriumi Kousuke, Maeno Tomoaki, Ono Daisuke, Namikawa Daisuke, Hosoya Yoshimasa, KENN, Kaji Yuki and Kamiya Hiroshi. If you’re unsure about who these guys are, do yourself a favour and get acquainted because chances are they have shown up in a lot of the shows you love, e.g. “Shingeki no Kyojin” has Ono Daisuke, Hosoya Yoshimasa, Kaji Yuki and Kamiya Hiroshi and “Kuroko no Basuke” has Ono, Hosoya, Kamiya, Junichi Suwabe, Toriumi Kousuke and Suzumura Kenichi.
The star-studded cast
The standard plot with most reverse harems is as follows: there is one girl (usually sweet in nature) who is placed in a situation where she comes into contact with a number of guys who all then take a liking to her in some form or other (whether in a friendship, familial or romantic way). Since this show is based on a novel and an otome game (otome = maiden; otome games are aimed at girls who play the simulation where they get to know the different characters and depending on responses/routes you can end up with one of the guys) it follows the plot rather strictly. In this case the story is about a girl named Ema whose father is getting married to a woman who already has kids: 13 sons!! (Yes… 13!! She was obviously a VERY busy woman…) Ema’s father is an adventurer/photographer and Miwa (the new wife) is a business woman who runs a clothing company so the two of them are usually away on business a lot. Because of this, Ema has lead a rather solitary life but since she’s getting a new family it’s decided that she should live with her brothers so that she doesn’t have to handle everything alone – especially since she’s nearing her final year of high school. And so, Ema packs up her stuff and moves to the Sunrise Residence complex (owned by Miwa) where she will now be living with 11 of her 13 new brothers and joining the Asahina family (2 of the brothers – Natsume and Hikaru – don’t live at the complex).
Ema starts her new life with her new family
Once she moves in she gets to know each of the brothers (and vice versa), some of whom take quite a strong liking to her. The 13 brothers are as follows: Masaomi (32 – a doctor), Ukyo (29 – a lawyer), Kaname (28 – a monk), Hikaru (27 – a novelist and part-time cross dresser), Tsubaki and Azusa (25 – voice actors and identical twins), Natsume (25 – is a higher up working at a gaming company and is Tsubaki and Azusa’s fraternal brother, making them triplets), Louis (22 – a hairdresser), Subaru (21 – a college student that is good at basketball), Iori (19 – a first year college student that’s super popular with the girls), Yusuke (17 – a 3rd year high school student who is actually Ema’s classmate), Futo (15 – a 1st year high school student and professional idol) and Wataru (11 – a 6th grade school student). The ages of the boys in the anime differs by about a year from those in the games (they are older in the anime). In addition to this host of brothers, she also has a pet squirrel named Juli who tries to protect her from her brothers, or “wolves”, as he calls them. The storyline isn’t quite so pointed where Ema spends her time with one brother per episode but rather, she can encounter a number of them per episode as they go about living their day-to-day lives, e.g. going to school and preparing for the cultural festival with Yusuke, going to watch Tsubaki and Azusa at a seiyuu event, turning to Natsume for help when she can’t get past a stage in the game “Zombie Hazard” that she plays (which his company makes), going on family trips, supporting Subaru at a basketball game etc. A regular life, right?
Ikemen brothers… Ikemen brothers everywhere! (and a pet squirrel)
This show appeals to a particular demographic and is set up to follow the traditional reverse-harem plot and so this review takes these factors into consideration and looks at it at face value. It is what it is so looking for deeper meanings etc. isn’t really realistic. If you’re a fan of reverse harems, then you will feel right at home with this one. Unlike some of the other reverse harem animes I’ve watched this one is relatively tame in terms of the theme/plot of the show because it follows Ema’s interactions with the brothers on a daily basis, whether it be running into Ukyo while making coffee to stay up late studying or going with her brothers to the park for a flower viewing picnic (a popular pastime especially during the season when the cherry blossoms appear). The lack of a specific driver for the plot makes sense in this context though if one considers the sheer volume of guys in the story. Nevertheless, the story does show progression as she gets to know each of the brothers better on a more personal level. At the same time, a few of the brothers manage to get their love confessions in, which brings about its own set of complications not only for Ema, who thinks it best to just remain family with these men, but also for the brothers themselves as they start infighting knowing that their siblings are after the object of their affection too!
Day-to-day life with the boys: picnics, dinners, festivals, events and more…
With regard to the love aspect, the boys are set up in rival pairs which makes things a little easier to follow: Masaomi and Wataru, Ukyo and Hikaru, Kaname and Iori, Tsubaki and Azusa, Natsume and Subaru, Yusuke and Futo, and Louis and Juli (who both just want to protect Ema). This aggressive pursuit/confession is something I found to be slightly different from the norm in this genre because most reverse harem animes have the protagonist spending time with her suitors but it rarely gets to love confessions, kisses and borderline assaults! This show was pretty upfront/realistic about the fact that no guy really wants to have to share the girl he likes with other guys, especially not his brothers, and the guys acted on their impulses instead of hanging back and being courteous about it. Some of the guys take the passive route by liking Ema and keeping it hidden and others go after it – after all, in the face of so much competition being direct is the best way to increase your chances.
Each of the boys makes their play for Ema with some being more direct than others
Apart from the most obvious aspect of the show – all the guys chasing after the girl – the guys themselves are also an important part of the equation in shows like these because there needs to be a guy that will cater to the different girls out there watching the show. So whether you like the reliable, tsundere, shy, aggressive, funny, sweet, sexy, charming, naughty etc. type you should be able to find those traits in the characters which will have you choosing/routing for your favourites. Because this show has so many guys there are overlaps in the broader personality types where they can be separated into either introverts (e.g. Subaru, Azusa, Iori) or extroverts (e.g. Kaname, Tsubaki, Futo). Depending on the other character traits, you will invariably find at least one guy that you like. I know I managed to find three that I wouldn’t mind seeing Ema with. I suppose this is the other nice point about these sorts of animes – if you and your friends all watch the same show you can have some discussions about who you like and why. Having 13 options does allow for a lot more variations of personality types and I’ll hand it to the creator(s) because they managed to make each brother unique despite the overlaps and give some of them character development as a result of coming into contact with Ema and going up against their brothers for the same girl. Oh and of course, it goes without saying that a requirement in harem and reverse harem animes is that the girls/guys should be good-looking! Again – 13 brothers allows for a lot of character variation and playing around with style, hair and eye colouring etc.
The balance of introverts, extroverts, personality types and looks caters to pretty much every girl
Speaking of colours and such, the animation itself is rather nicely done. It has its own feel to it that isn’t a replica of other reverse harem shows done by Brain’s Base and although there is use of colour, it isn’t quite as brightly coloured as, e.g. “Uta no Prince-sama” by A1 Studios. Apart from the animation, a special mention goes to the music of the show. You wouldn’t think that music would be a really important part in this type of show and, in all honesty, it wasn’t a particular focus since it served to enhance the mood/atmosphere of the various scenarios, e.g. upbeat music for the times you watch Subaru playing basketball, serious music for the love scenes etc. However, I will give special mention to this show’s choice of music because it was an unusual style, is really enjoyable on its own and will instantly bring to mind the memories of watching the show! The OST was provided by Takeshi Nakatsuka and is this great blend of smooth and band jazz that comes together with some classical, lounge, chilled electro beats, scratching and even Indian instrument vibes to create a whole new sound. I know I did a lot of my university work listening to this OST and I still enjoy listening to it, so if you’re into that kind of somewhat chilled jazz sound with a twist then you may like this. Oh and let’s not forget the loads of bonus cds and the collective and super catchy OP and ED theme songs by either Gero or all 14 seiyuus! Shew! And if you wanted a little extra, there was also an OVA and couple of Christmas and Valentine’s special episodes.
Harem for the holidays…
This show was the first reverse harem I ever watched and I can easily rewatch this and still enjoy it. It touches on the bonds of family and love thrown in with some humour, a little bit of depth and a whole lot of hot guys! Of course, one shouldn’t think about this plot realistically because then you would probably think this whole scenario of one girl kissing a whole bunch of brothers is pretty wrong/weird, but that’s what these types of animes are – fantasies… Personally, I always prefer subs over dubs, but that’s just my preference since I feel the original cast usually pulls it off better and sound more distinct. If you want to watch something that is light and pleasing to the eye that may give you a case of the doki-dokis, then you can’t go wrong with this one. After all, it’s the very same show that my avatar/profile pic comes from, because who wouldn’t want to live in a world surrounded by the guys of your dreams… (^з^)
Image credits: ASCII Media Works, Otomate, Brain’s Base, Funimation