What They Say:
Whoever said little girls grow up in the most delightful ways wasn’t Yuta Segawa! But since his sister Yuri raised Yuta by herself after their own parents’ deaths, what kind of brother would Yuta be if he didn’t take in her three children when Yuri and her husband disappear? Of course, the fact that Yuta’s a nineteen-year-old college student, living in a tiny apartment, with three girls, two of whom aren’t related by blood, is bound to cause some issues…
Especially when the eldest girl, Sora, is harboring a secret crush on him and would be quite happy if Yuta’s social life revolved around the “family,” while middle sister Miu is starting to make noises about “older men” as well. Did we mention that it’s a really, really small apartment? Add Raika, the girl Yuta actually likes, as a smoldering fuse and the question isn’t if Yuta’s home sweet home is a powderkeg, but when it’s going to explode and how often!
The release of this television series is the older version that Sentai put on the market that contains only a Japanese 2.0 audio track which was found to be without dropouts or distortions noted while the dialogue comes through clearly. Given the rather normal- perhaps even mundane- setting there isn’t a ton of directionality or effects needed and so much of the material tends to come off most balanced between the speakers though on the occasions where directionality is required it is provided to an extent that leaves the impression of being a solid audio track that works well on the whole.
Originally airing in the early months of of Japan’s 2012 television season, Listen To Me, Girls. I Am Your Father! is presented here in its original 16:9 aspect ratio complete with an anamorphic encode. The series is largely one that uses an animation style that keeps to a realistic-ish model where the character models are largely consistent throughout the series and while it tends to avoid the boldest of colors in most places, the ones it uses as its standard are usually very solid and deep and which feel rather real for the world the series creates.
For this release Sentai Filmworks places 12 episodes and an OVA on three discs which probably help the visuals in theory, but it is hard to say how successful this is in practice here as there are a number of issues that show up in the presentation. Present on the disc is a level of fine noise that is usually moderate in most places while a bit of banding, some minor blocking, a little ghosting and some obvious CGI rear their head which all combine to make for a rather disappointing looking visual presentation compared to almost everything else I’ve seen released on the market around the same period as this title and the same number of discs- and sometimes even fewer discs.
The packaging for the release houses three discs in a regular DVD sized case that includes a hinge which has space for a disc on either side with the final disc being stored in the back of the inside of the case. The cover features an image of the three main girls in the series with the three year old Hana being in the upper left side pulling her oldest sister Sora along by the arm as Miu rushes to keep up. The shot is a low angle one so the cover gives a great view of a blue sky with white clouds behind but also gives a bit of a hint of some of the fanservice inside as the shot allows a considerable amount of Sora’s legs to be shown.
The back cover continues to use the blue and white colors from the front cover with blue looking like it is a backdrop while the white is used for bars that list the episodes and OVA at the top along with three stills from the show being present. The middle of the cover uses a large white section that has an image of the three girls clinging on to each other and smiling on the left side while the right contains the copy for the series. The bottom of cover contains four more stills while the rest of the bottom cover space is reserved for technical information and copyright information. Each DVD gets its own image with an image of the sister trio present on it on the first which also has a bit of embarrassing fanservice and the third disc includes a shot of a young woman (Oda) who becomes a little infatuated with the cute girls during the course of the story.
The menus used are fairly basic in mechanics and they use static images of characters with the main menus featuring artwork that combines all three of the girls on the right of the screen while the left side has the options listed vertically in orange against a white background. The menus themselves are on the simplistic yet effective side and they are quick to respond to changes in selection while they also respond promptly to whatever option was chosen and they use a large orange arrow indicator to signify which option is highlighted.
The only extras present on this release is the rather industry standard clean openings and closing animations.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based off the light novel series Papa no lukoto Kikinasai! written by Tomohiro Matsu and illustrated by Yuka Nakajima, Listen To Me, Girls. I Am Your Father! covers the events in the life of new college freshman Segawa Yuta who suddenly finds his life turned upside down when tragedy again strikes his family. In addition to the challenge of his studies Yuta is suddenly put into a position to have to decide if he will make a choice that will provide him a great deal more responsibility and stress when his older sister and her husband pass away leaving three young girls of various ages behind. With the trio facing the very real prospect of losing the close bond they share of living together in addition to their becoming orphaned Yuta has to decide how far he will –and can- go as the example of his own sister’s sacrifice in his life stands as an example to him which he may not be able to .
The series opens up by spending some time introducing the audience to Segawa Yuta on his first day at Tama University of Lecture as he begins his journey into the world of college life. As he walks the campus he encounters many clubs handing out flyers to attract new members but it is the young woman Oda Raika handing out flyers for the Sightseeing Club that really draws his eye and which persuades him to go to their welcome activity. This decision though finds him captured in a scheme by the club’s more than slightly onerous president Sako who tries to force Yuta into joining the club by deceiving Yuta into believing that the freshman committed an incredible offence while drinking at their welcoming party. Despite this shady start, Yuta still eventually decides to join the club, though more because of the prospect of spending time with Oda Raika than anything Sako plotted and fellow first year student Nimura Koichi follows along thinking it will be fun.
About a month after he enters college Yuta’s older his sister Yuri invites Yuta over to her house so he can spend time with the family she has started as she married a man named Shingo, a man who already had two daughters from two previous marriages as well as the daughter that she and her husband had together who hasn’t had much chance to see her uncle. At first Yuta tries to excuse himself by saying he doesn’t want to intrude on her family time but Yuri changes her tone to a slightly scolding one and she reminds him that no matter what happens Yuta is still her family. When the siblings parent’s died while Yuta was still in middle school and Yuri in high school she had refused to let the two be separated as their extended family planned and Yuri had taken on the role of raising him in their parent’s stead and She didn’t reciprocate Yuta’s one sided attempt at kindness as he mistakenly thought giving her space to live her own life now was for the best without talking to his sister.
Properly chastised, Yuta agrees to come over to the couple’s house on the next Sunday and he makes the hour and a half train trip to Yuri’s house but when Yuta arrives instead of being greeted by his sister, he is greeted by the 10 year old Miu who is upbeat and energetic when meeting him. Yuta gets a bit of a surprise when Miu invites him in and informs him that Yuta has been set up yet again as Yuri and Shingo have already left to go out for a short trip and Yuta is supposed to watch the girls in their absence. Yuta is introduced to the 3 year old Hina who he manages to win over fairly easily by playing with her but it is his encounter with the 14 year old Hina that may be the most auspicious as he walks in on her just while entering the bathroom as she is getting dressed after having just taken a shower – an incident which of course provokes a loud scream from the young teenager.
Despite a slightly rough start (and Yuta being pranked while sleeping) things go well enough that Yuri, Shingo and the daughters are comfortable enough with having Yuta watch the girls for a bit of an extended while as it turns out that Yuri had a bit of a second ulterior motive of sorts beyond just getting a short day trip with her husband. Yuri planned to use the introduction of her younger brother into the girl’s lives not just so he didn’t grow distant or for a one day thing as Shingo is scheduled to fly out of the country for his work and Yuri is hoping that Yuta will watch the couple’s daughters so Yuri can go with Shingo as they never really had a honeymoon, which given the (relative) smoothness of the trial run everyone –including Yuta- are comfortable with.
Tragedy strikes almost immediately after Yuta comes over for this extended sitting however as the plane that the girl’s parents is on goes down and all on board are presumed lost, leaving the girls basically as orphans and facing the same situation that Yuta experienced as a young boy. As Yuta and the trio of grieving girls listen the assembled extended family members debate the best solution to what should happen with the girls the only ideas that are floated all revolve around splitting the sisters up and having them move in with different family members. As he listens Yuta finds that he cannot accept that solution and, much like his sister Yuri did years earlier, Yuta declares that he will take the girls in despite the immense difficulties a college student in a one room apartment will face with three young girls to care for.
While the assembled family is still somewhat stunned at the proclamation and being dismissive of it, Yuta and the girls sneak out of the house and make the hour and a half trip by train to Yuta’s apartment as if that will simply solve the entire matter. As the group tries to build these new lives together though they are going to face a good deal of difficulty as this arrangement is going to tax all four members in different ways from having to adjust to problems that include a lack of privacy, major commutes, and new bills all while trying to process the grief of their lost family members. But as they go through their struggles the cast will connect with the people around them and discover that it isn’t just this quartet that is trying to cope with life issues either as everyone around them has their own problems but the example set by the determined young family may just be able to provide inspiration for others around them- assuming of course that the near impossibility of the situation doesn’t overwhelm and consume them first.
When I first was reading about the premise for the show I won’t deny having had mixed (at best) emotions spring to mind as the string of light novel adaptations I had seen recently didn’t give me an abundance of confidence in general as to here the series might go and the specifics of a college guy living with three young girls had me worrying in particular as to how events would play out considering some of the paths other materials like it had gone. To an extent (though not large thankfully) I was a bit right in my apprehension as there are a couple of situations in the story that made me uncomfortable and there is one character in particular that was at least deplorable on the surface and possibly even worse in subtext but beyond those two bits the show turned out far more spectacularly than I ever even considered possible. I was surprised when the writing for all of the characters (but one) feel like it avoided most of the common clichés and low hanging fruit pathways that have become almost standard in many current productions and this story for the most part and comes across as fairly well developed in premise and characters, with them largely feeling relatable as they react to the situations around them.
The story really starts in a strong way by introducing the viewers to Yuta first as it makes sure that his life gets a bit of a solid foundation which helps establish that he is as an individual just starting to make his way in the world on his own in the transition from young adult to full adult as he works to discover just what it is he wants to pursue in college to help shape his future as well as who he is going to choose to associate with as he goes about this. This time spent serves well to help give flesh him out as an individual heading down his own path so that when tragedy strikes and he decides to try to be a bonding force for keeping his nieces together his motivation doesn’t feel quite as forced as it would have had the series started with him meeting the girls but not showing the audience some of his current life first while also helping to give depth to what he is losing for himself with his decision.
By in large it is Yuta who is the center of this story, not just in terms of his nieces and other extended family members but in many respects also with his social circle and apartment that he has chosen to live. This environment establishes a solid base off which each of the other girls then has freedom to either expand their own social circles in their current surroundings or they can mourn the loss of their old one. In addition, each of these four members now will be bearing some bit of the struggle that comes with Yuta’s humble means and the impact that not only a much smaller dwelling but also a long distance commute to the schools the older girls attend start take their own toll as Yuta finds providing for three younger people while trying to be a student may prove impossible which adds a real sense of connection to what the entire group is experiencing.
It is really here in these moments of trial and making sacrifices that I think the series finds its greatest heart as the characters find others around them who also are hurting and yet through simple acts of kindness- perhaps even unnoticed by the person providing it- many of the people around them who lost their sense of community find it again as well as rediscover hope along with it as this small family tries with all its heart to stick together even when all odds are against them and it appears that at least Yuta may be better off without this impossible task. There is something about these healing encounters- even when a bit cheesy at times- that just makes me happy and I enjoy relishing in those feelings unabashedly.
Where the series goes astray for me is when it engages in a bit of the kind of behavior that I feared when I first heard the title as the fourteen year old Sora is often unfortunately at the center of some fan service shots where Yuta walks in on her changing or in the bath far too often. This is mitigated slightly by the current living situation which doesn’t feel as forced or bizarre as many other series that try this in larger spaces simply because of the proximity the small apartment forces on them as well as both parties often acting as they always have but without considering their current situation, particularly when it comes to doors or the curtain that divides the room (though it is obviously still pushing things for fan reaction) but it is still something I wish it didn’t rely on. The situation is further complicated by the fact that Sora had developed a a crush on Yuta a few years before and it had exploded into a major thing before the two were reunited near the start of this series’ events and these incidents can really help set up some of her dramatic reactions but I still can’t help feeling this could have been explored in a less exploitive feeling manner.
Where things go completely off the rails for me is the character of the club president Sako who has a fetish for very young girls and is beyond creepy when it comes to the ten year old Miu and the three year old Hina. While his obsession never seems to become overtly sexual I can’t help feeling the character exists only to make the audience feel better if they sexualize Sora as the president sees her as ‘over the hill.’ This strikes me like it is giving permission to the audience because the club president is obviously revolting and since he doesn’t have a thing for Sora it means fans that may are alright as they aren’t as bad as this detestable character and that feels more than a touch manipulative to me. The only other note I have is that the translation seems a bit hit or miss at times as there is a point where a descriptions is translated as ‘gloomy Gus’ which might suggest a bit of a localized script yet ‘Onii-chan’ is present when the dialogue uses the term with no translation ever being offered and while a term that is so frequent in anime it is probably an understood, it still seems like having a translation show up once or in a translator’s notes section might have worked The series does define some Kanji when needed in the presentation which frankly leaves me scratching my head as to just what the overall philosophy behind this translation job was, though it largely works well overall even if there are some peculiarities to be found within. Even with these moments that range from odd to annoying I still greatly enjoyed this series and think it is one of the best things I have seen in a while and I really wish there was more from the series available in the US market.
Listen To Me, Girls. I Am Your Father! is a heartwarming tale of a young man who is just starting to make his own path in life who is placed into the unfortunate position of having to decide that rather than just trying to deal with the trials that come from being in college he is going to take on responsibility of his nieces after his sister and her brother perish in a plane crash. The series makes its bones showing how despite everyone’s best intentions there are sacrifices that are going to have to be made for the family to stick together and some of the costs may be very high indeed. And yet despite their own perilous situation this cast still manages to do more than just try to take care of themselves as their efforts and spirit affect not just them but also many in their local community who also manage to return the positive effect. While there are a few moments and one particular character that keep the series from being one I feel comfortable blindly recommending there still is enough here to absolutely fall in love with.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: A
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: C
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: February 5th, 2013
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Samsung 50″ Plasma HDTV, Denon AVR-790 Receiver with 5.1 Sony Surround Sound Speakers, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080.