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Cover of the first manga volume
|Genre||Drama, Slice of life|
|Written by||Riyoko Ikeda|
|Original run||August 20, 1975 – October 20, 1975|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Osamu Dezaki|
|Original run||14 July 1991 – 31 May 1992|
Oniisama e... (おにいさまへ…?, lit. To [my respected] elder brother) is a Japanese manga series by Riyoko Ikeda. It was adapted into an anime series that aired on NHK-BS2 channel from July 14, 1991 to May 31, 1992.
The series originally started out as a manga in the early to mid-1970s. The story is about a 16-year-old girl Nanako Misonoo (御苑生奈々子? Misonoo Nanako) who attends a prestigious academy and deals with life as a high school student via writing letters to her "brother". The manga has never been officially released in English, though it has been translated into Italian and Polish. The series spans 39 anime episodes and 3 manga volumes, ending when Nanako is eighteen.
Nanako Misonoo is a young high school freshman at the exclusive girls' school Seiran Academy. When she begins her first year at this school, she falls into a world of female rivalry, love, chaos, and heartbreak. She narrates the story of the series in a chain of letters to a young man named Takehiko Henmi, who she calls "Oniisama" (Brother). In reality, Takehiko was her teacher at the cram school she went to earlier. She feels such a strong bond with Takehiko that she asks to continue corresponding with him. Takehiko agrees, and soon Nanako begins addressing him as "brother" in her letters. When Nanako starts her new school year at the all-girl Seiran Academy, she is unexpectedly inducted into the school's Sorority despite having none of the looks, talents, or background needed to become a member. As the series progresses, she becomes involved in the lives of the "Magnificent Three", the three most popular girls in the school.
As Nanako interacts with these women, she becomes attached to the great but troubled Rei Asaka, whom she wants to help, but cannot get close to due Rei's obsession with Fukiko Ichinomiya, the Sorority president. Nanako also becomes friends with a beautiful and lonely young girl named Mariko Shinobu, who is determined to get into the Sorority and make Nanako her best friend at all costs. Meanwhile, Nanako has problems of her own; she is constantly being bullied by her peers due to her unlikely membership in the Sorority. Throughout these problems Nanako is supported by her childhood friend Tomoko, the athletic but secretly ailing Kaoru Orihara, and the correspondence with her "brother", who just happens to have some secrets of his own. The series chronicles her first year at Seiran Academy as she uncovers the past of some of the most popular girls in school, learning of love, loss, and her own family's secrets, including her true relation with Takehiko.
- Nanako Misonoo (御苑生 奈々子? Misonoo Nanako)
- Voiced by: Hiroko Kasahara (original series), Yūko Mizutani (television pilot)
- The main character of the story, Nanako Misonoo is chosen to join The Sorority, an elite group at her new high school, eliciting the wrath and jealousy of her classmates. Like many shōjo heroines, Nanako is innocent, caring, sometimes insecure, but always determined to do what is right. She begins the story hoping only to be liked by her peers, but is soon dragged into the lives and secrets of Seiran Academy's most elite students. She falls in love with Rei "Saint-Juste" Asaka, and their relationship is one of the major driving plots of the series.
- Tomoko Arikura (有倉 智子? Arikura Tomoko)
- Voiced by: Waka Kanda
- Tomoko is Nanako's childhood friend and arguably the only "normal-themed" character in the series. In the manga, Mariko manipulates her into ending her friendship with Nanako, which Tomoko later rekindles when she realizes the misunderstanding. In the anime, Mariko attempts to end the friendship and almost succeeds, but Tomoko ultimately remains by Nanako's side and protects her from Aya Misaki's bullying, and the three of them become best friends for the entire duration of the show, with Tomoko acting as the series' main comedic relief.
- Rei Asaka ("Hana no Saint-Juste") (朝霞 れい? Asaka Rei)
- Voiced by: Sumi Shimamoto
- Rei "Saint-Juste of the Flowers" Asaka is one of the "Magnificent Three" known for her social indifference and her many artistic talents, especially musical (she plays the guitar and sings in the manga, and plays the piano, the flute and violin and acts in the anime. She is also shown playing basketball in the anime,replacing Karou in at least one game. Episode 16 "Comeback"). Incredibly loyal and devoted to the ones she loves, Rei's destructive relationship with Fukiko Ichinomiya leads her to be troubled, obsessed with death, and drug-addicted. She is Kaoru's best friend, and interacts frequently with Nanako, but her relationship with Fukiko prevents her from comfortably maintaining other friendships. The secrets between the two, and Nanako's involvement in them, is one of the major driving plots of the series. She dies late in the series; in the manga she dies by suicide via pill overdose, but in the anime her death is an accident as she falls off of a commuter bridge, into the path of a train (Episode 34 "Ablution").She does this while trying to catch a bouquet of flowers that she purchased for Nanako, which she accidentally drops. In the anime her death deeply influences the other characters, as Kaoru begins to have suicidal feelings and the Ichinomiya family feel guilty for not doing anything for her, despite their wealth and their relationship to her. Ironically, Rei is the only one allowed, and who has ever seen Fukiko cry (Episode 25 "The Scarlet Lipstick"). Rei's nickname comes from Louis de Saint-Just, a French Revolutionary, known as the "Angel of Death".
- Mariko Shinobu (信夫 マリ子? Shinobu Mariko)
- Voiced by: Sakiko Tamagawa
- An Sorority member and a former student of the junior high school attached to Seiran, Mariko becomes one of Nanako's best friends. Mariko distrusts all men because of her troubled family life: her father Hikawa is an erotica author who has an affair with an actress and later divorces Mariko's mother Hisako. She is terrified of abandonment to the point where she becomes obsessed with the ones around her. She is also extremely beautiful, with red lips and long black hair as well as a curvy body, and shows an odd mix of vanity about her good looks and lack of regard for her own health if upset. On one occasion, Mariko becomes extremely possessive towards Nanako when Nanako tries to leave the Shinobu Residence. This later leads to Mariko refusing to eat until Nanako accepts her apology and forgives her. She collapses after 3 days due to hunger, before returning to eating as normal once the two friends have resolved the situation.. Mariko greatly admires Kaoru due to her strength and the emotional support she gives her as well. Mariko admits to loving Karou (Episode 16"Comeback"). Mariko injures Aya after Aya makes fun of her family problems in front of the class, leading Mariko to be suspended from school and expelled from the Sorority, which partially triggers the call for the Sorority to be abolished after Nanako declares that Fukiko's judgement on Mariko was too harsh, as she did not hear Mariko's side of the story. She eventually comes to terms with her rivalry with Aya, realising they were both lonely and self-centred.
- Near the end of the series, Mariko's parents finally divorce. At first Mariko is distraught, and reminisces about how her father was never there for her on her birthday, and Nanako observes how difficult it must be for her to choose a parent to live with as she loves both of them deeply. Furthermore, shame about her father's profession deepens her self-loathing. Her father tells her that he believes there is good in everyone, including himself and Mariko, so she should love herself. She is able to resolve her feelings of shame towards her father's profession when Takashi hands her an old novel by her father, which is a sincere novel about his love towards his mother and his belief to live life in a way that will not be regretted.
- Kaoru Orihara ("Kaoru-no-kimi") (折原 薫? Orihara Kaoru)
- Voiced by: Keiko Toda
- "Kaoru-no-Kimi" ("Prince Kaoru") Orihara is one of the "Magnificent Three" and the star of the basketball team, known for her tomboyish way of dress and her great athletic skills. She has a mysterious and deadly illness (breast cancer) kept secret from most of her classmates; it's only known in public that she was held back a year due to unnamed health problems. As Rei's best friend, she greatly dislikes Fukiko for everything she has done to Rei and hates the very existence of the Sorority. She spends the series trying to live her life to the fullest in spite of her disease, and is the one who supports Nanako when she is bullied, and helps Rei when she gets into major trouble. She was romantically involved with Nanako's "brother", Takehiko Henmi, but broke it off after her mastectomy. However both Kaoru and Takehiko still have strong feelings for each other near the end of the series. Fukiko, who is also in love with Takehiko, encourages Kaoru to take up their relationship again after Rei's death, pointing out that Rei lived her life to the fullest until the last day, so she should too. In the anime, Kaoru marries Takehiko and emigrates to Germany with him. She gives birth to their child at the end of the series. Kaoru's nickname comes from the anti-hero character, Kaoru Genji, of the The Tale of Genji.
- Fukiko Ichinomiya ("Miya-sama") (一の宮 蕗子? Ichinomiya Fukiko)
- Voiced by: Mami Koyama
- One of the "Magnificent Three", Fukiko "Miya-sama" ("Princess") Ichinomiya is the Student Body President, leader of the Sorority, member of the flower arrangement and riding clubs, and known for her elegance and dignity. She appears to be calm and generous, but is cruel and manipulative, often psychologically and physically torturing Rei for several ambiguous reasons, such as her desire that Rei should only have eyes for her, no one else. It is also revealed that she and Rei and full sisters, although she was adopted by the Ichinomiya family. The annual Sorority candidate selections always cause extreme fighting and jealousy among the lower-classmen, which she promotes, believing that in competition one finds strength. She sponsors Nanako's entry into the Sorority due to secret and ulterior motives: she is in love with Takehiko, and does not know that Takehiko is really Nanako's stepbrother and confidant.She jealously tries to destroy their relationship by making Nanako love her instead (she believes that Nanako is writing to Hemni with romantic intentions and tries to make her stop writing him letters). In the anime, her love for Takehiko is given a backstory: she met and fell in love with him when she was twelve and he spent several days with her in the Ichinomiya mansion, but he broke her heart by not showing up to her birthday party, which she had prepared a violin piece for, which emotionally splintered young Fukiko. Fukiko has since been stuck in that sense of love that she felt when she was twelve. Her room from that period remains the same as it was on the very day that she met Henmi (Episode 22 "A Summer Serenade"). In the end, she is able to overcome her childhood love.
- Aya Misaki (三咲 綾? Misaki Aya)
- Voiced by: Masako Katsuki
- A fervent (her mother was in the sorority so it would shame the family if she were not chosen) Sorority aspirant and Mariko's rival ever since junior high, she tries to make life miserable for Nanako and Mariko when she fails to gain entry. In the anime, she is almost always seen with Miyuki Sonobe and Megumi Furuta, the only friends she seems to have at Seiran Academy. Mean-spirited and conniving, her cruelty belies an intense self-loathing. In the anime, after she is wounded in an altercation with Mariko Episode 27, "An Incident of Bloodshed", she experiences intense guilt for her actions and ultimately repents. She attempts to commit suicide but is saved by Nanako and her friends. By the series' end, she and her group appear to be on good terms with the main characters.
- Takehiko Henmi ("Oniisama") (辺見 武彦? Henmi Takehiko)
- Voiced by: Tesshō Genda
- Takehiko is a favourite tutor of Nanako, whom she asks to be her "Oniisama"—a trusted older-brother figure. He is a graduate student at Gakuin University along with Takashi Ichinomiya, and has aspirations to study abroad in Germany. Takehiko is actually Nanako's stepbrother, the son of Mr. Misonoo's first marriage, though he keeps this secret from Nanako so as not to air the family's dirty laundry. He was involved with Kaoru approximately two years prior to the series' start, though after she was diagnosed she ended their relationship. He is acquainted with the Ichinomiya family through Takashi. He appears to know of the situation with Rei, though if this information was revealed through Kaoru or Takashi is not stated. By the end of the series he rekindles his relationship with his father and marries Kaoru, before moving to Germany.
- Takashi Ichinomiya (一の宮 貴? Ichinomiya Takashi)
- Voiced by: Kenyū Horiuchi
- Takashi is introduced as a friend of Takehiko, and is often seen accompanying him. A self-proclaimed metrosexual with a passion for cars, clothes, and beautiful people, Takashi is good-natured and caring, showing considerable interest in the well-being of his younger sisters. Takashi is incredibly supportive of Takehiko, frequently driving him around and going so far as to plan and pay for his friend's entire wedding at the show's conclusion. It is hinted that he has a strained relationship with his father.
- Voiced by: Yumi Takada
- An anime-exclusive character, introduced as one of Aya Misaki's two friends. She has pigtails and hair decorations, and is almost never seen without either Aya or their common friend Megumi Furuta. She and Megumi are seen as few more than Aya's girl posse, supporting her bullying of Nanako and Mariko. In episode 30 it's revealed that her and Megumi actually do care for Aya's well-being instead of just liking her high status; this leads Komabayashi and Ogiwara to manipulate them both for their benefit
- Voiced by: Miki Itou
- An anime-exclusive character, of Aya Misaki's other friend. She has short hair and a deep voice, and is almost never seen without either Aya or Miyuki. She and Miyuki are seen as few more than Aya's girl posse, supporting her bullying of Nanako and Mariko. Like Miyuki, her motivations (misguided but genuine affection for Aya) are revealed in episode 30.
- Voiced by: Mayumi Setou
A girl from another first-year classroom, chosen to be in the Sorority alongside Mariko and Nanako. She is the first member of the Sorority who is expelled from it due to her bad grades, despite having a reasonable excuse (her bad health); Fukiko humiliates her via exposing her case to everyone in the Sorority, and then demanding for her to resign, despite Nanako's objections. She ultimately does so, and later confesses to Nanako that she had begun to feel uncomfortable in the Sorority itself. In the anime she is given some more spotlight, as she is introduced via speaking to a friend about Nanako's qualifications to be in the Sorority, which angers Mariko; later, she rejoins the cast and befriends Nanako more properly. Later in the series, she returns to support to motion to abolish the sorority.
Mr. and Mrs. Misonoo
Nanako's parents, or more exactly, Nanako's mother and stepfather. Misonoo, a well-known and respected college professor, was formerly married to Takehiko Henmi's mother, and after a very bitter divorce, he took to drinking his sorrows away; Nanako's mother was the waitress of the pub that he attended the most, and once the professor sobered up, they fell in love and got married. Ever since then Professor Misonoo has been a kind father figure to Nanako, though he wasn't able to rekindle his bonds to Takehiko as well; he and his new wife still worked hard to both be able to support themselves and help Takehiko after his mother's death. When Nanako is chosen as a Sorority member, one of the reasons she was questioned the most for was the assumption that her mother was a homewrecker, which was obviously false.
Hisako and Hikawa Shinobu
Mariko Shinobu's parents. Hikawa Shinobu is a rich and popular erotica writer, and his work is used by Aya and her group to bully Mariko at school; not to mention, his affair with an ex-actress is very well known, as well as the reason why Mariko hates men of all kinds. Hisako attempts to take care of Mariko as much as she can while ignoring her own troubles, but while Mariko loves her deeply, her forceful personality sometimes is too much to handle.
- The Seiran Sorority is an amalgamation of a student government, an extracurricular club, and an elite society, and is a school tradition that is said to date back to at least the 1930s. Similar to western fraternities and sororities, prospective members seem to be nominated by those already in the Sorority, and undergo a pledge period in which they are interviewed for fitness. Family legacy, appropriate extracurricular activities, and attractive appearances are the main considerations for admission. The Sorority appears to have around forty or fifty members, though several of the senior members are given prominence and special nicknames. They are primarily referred to by these nicknames, though later in the series their surnames are revealed. Their given names were never shown.
"Lady Borgia" Ogiwara
- Voiced by: Emi Shinohara
- Borgia is a senior member of the Sorority, and is commonly seen wearing her hair in a chignon. Her position in the Sorority is never expressly stated. During the Petition Arc, she is presented as the most adamant member of the plot to discredit Fukiko, with intentions of taking over as President, herself. She holds a strong dislike of Fukiko and shows frustration with the other girl's staunch pride.
"Lady Mona Lisa" Komabayashi
- Voiced by: Shinobu Adachi
- Mona Lisa is a senior member of the Sorority, and resembles her namesake, possessing long black hair and an enigmatic expression. She is stated as being the Sorority's Vice-President and a good friend of Ogiwara. Reserved and mysterious, she is quite invested in the Sorority. She eventually goes along with the other members during the Petition Arc, though contests Borgia when she realizes their machinations have gone too far.
"Lady Medusa" Katsuragi
- Voiced by: Kumiko Takizawa
- Medusa is a senior member of the Sorority, and briefly serves as Vice-President after Mona Lisa's resignation. She has bushy brown hair. She appears to be Fukiko's only friend within the Sorority; the two are often seen conversing pleasantly, and during the Petition Arc she is the last member to remain on Fukiko's side.
"Lady Cattleya" Yamamoto
- Voiced by: Satoko Yasunaga
- Cattleya is a senior member of the Sorority, and has curly brown hair with side-swept bangs. Cattleya plays a role in the conspiracy to discredit Fukiko, though she pulls out when Borgia's schemes prove too ridiculous. She seems fairly kind, and willingly helps Nanako with the petition after resigning.
"Lady Vampanella" Hoshino
- Voiced by: Miyuki Matsuoka
- Vampanella is a senior Sorority member, and wears her dark hair in a ponytail with a bow. She appears close with Cattleya; the two both abandon Borgia to her schemes during the Petition Arc. She is seen to be a smoker outside of school.
The show's themes revolve around suicide, incest, lesbianism, drug addiction, violence, divorce, and disease. Rei Asaka has a deep love for Fukiko Ichinomiya which can be seen as incestuous due to later revelations about their actual relationship and early interactions with each other. Lesbianism is mentioned due to heavy overtones of female interaction at an all girls school, as well as Nanako's romantic feelings towards Rei, and Mariko's feelings towards Kaoru.
- Sorority Member Senkou (ソロリティ・メンバー選考? Sorority Member Senkou) August 20, 1978
- Saint Juste no Himitsu (サン・ジュストの秘密?) September 20, 1978
- Sayonara Kaoru no Kimi (さよなら薫の君?) October 20, 1978
The series was dubbed and released in Italy and France, though it was pulled after seven episodes in France, due to strong adult content. A Greek version is also known to have existed, with its broadcast halted between the commercial breaks in the third episode. The anime series is available online to viewers in the United States through Viki.com, Hulu, and YouTube. Anime Sols has successfully crowdfunded the entire the show for North American DVD. Under the title Dear Brother, three DVD box sets were released between July 29, 2014 and April 7, 2015.
- "THEM Anime Reviews 4.0 - Brother Dear Brother". Themanime.org. Retrieved 2015-05-06.
- "Shoujo Yuri Manga Guide". Yuricon. Retrieved August 8, 2016.
- "Comment referring to the series as an early example of censorship in Greek television". Blogspot.com. Retrieved 2016-04-04.
- "Dear Brother - おにいさまへ… - Watch Full Episodes Free - Japan - TV Shows". Viki.com. Retrieved 2015-05-06.
- "Dear Brother's Last English DVD Set Reaches Crowdfunding Goal - News". Animenewsnetwork.com. Retrieved 2015-05-06.
- "North American Anime, Manga Releases, July 27-August 2 - News". Animenewsnetwork.com. Retrieved 2015-05-06.
- "North American Anime, Manga Releases, April 5–11 - News". Animenewsnetwork.com. Retrieved 2015-05-06.