What They Say:
Ema Hinata is lonely. As an only child and the daughter of a famous explorer, for most of her life her closest companion has been Juli, her talking pet squirrel. But her father is getting remarried, and her new family is… a little unorthodox. Now, she’s got 13 gorgeous guys as her stepbrothers, and they’re all after her heart! But is romance what she wants, or is it family?
Contains episodes 1-12 plus Special 12.5 and 2 OVAs.
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language track as well as the newly created English language adaptation. The show is one that is essentially all about the dialogue as there aren’t even a lot of wacky hijinks along the way to take it up a notch. But in this realm, it does handle things well as there’s some good placement to be had depending on how many characters are on screen at any given time and occasional some depth associated with it as well because of the same. The combination of this with the incidental music and sound effects makes for a solid presentation overall, though again, because it’s all about the dialogue it’s not going to stand out in a big way. Both tracks are encoded well with no problems such as dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2013 with a few specials that came out in 2014 and 2015, the transfer for this show is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The fifteen episodes are spread across two discs with ten on the first and the remainder on the second; it’s worth noting that the 12.5 episode is really just a half-length episode, so it’s not three OVAs of full length included. Animated by Brain’s Base, the series has a beautiful look about it with a rich design across the board. The characters have some solid designs about them with detail and color while also existing in a world where it’s given the kind of depth it needs to feel real and lived in. The transfer brings this to life in a great way with what it does here as colors pop while having a very solid field and there are no problems in the various panning sequences. The fluidity of the animation in key scenes is strong as well, making this a really appealing show to just get absorbed into for the quality of the animation and the clarity through which its encoded.
The Essentials edition of this release essentially takes what we had with the previous one but slims it down a bit, ejecting the DVDs and sticking with just the Blu-ray discs. The front cover puts Ema right in the middle while ringing all the boys around her and it’s surprisingly workable with the graph design behind them where the logo sits. That provides the right kind of pop while taking you away from looking at the sheer number of men involved in this reverse harem series. The character artwork works well enough though some of it feels a little softer than it should, but the general pop of color and design makes the whole thing eye-catching. The release is a little unlike some of the other Essentials where they list the Blu-ray stripe along the top as we get just the grey Essentials stripe since it’s such a busy cover. It is a Blu-ray release that does come with a digital as well. The back cover goes for an all pink piece that’s properly colorful and it uses the same artwork of Ema as the front cover, just larger and set to the left. The premise is kept incredibly simple on the right and we get a decent breakdown of the extras. While we do get the listing of the OVAs in the technical section, which is all listed clearly, there really needed to be a better mention of that elsewhere to give the ‘added value’ element the right kind of pop. While no show related inserts are included, we do get artwork on the reverse side of all the brothers side by side that’s colorful and fun.
The menu design for this release works a simple approach but one that has the right kind of lightness to it. With clips playing as the main feature of it that dominates the screen, there’s a soft filter over it that fogs it up slightly, giving it a more dreamlike feeling. The logo looms very large in the design here and really dominates in a way that reduces the impact of the animation and character designs. But it is colorful and has some good pop to it. The navigation strip along the bottom works a pink and white approach with blue highlights that works well within the theme and ties to the logo well. With basic navigation here and little more, it works well as the main menu while being quick and easy to access as a pop-up menu during playback.
The extras for this release are a little straightforward as we get the clean versions of the various opening and closing sequences as well as the English language commentaries that are provided with a couple of episodes on both discs. These are fun pieces with some of the cast involved being able to talk about the show and their enjoyment of it.
Based on the light novel series created by Atsuko Kanase and written by Takeshi Mizuno, Brothers Conflict is a twelve episode series that aired in 2013 and had a 12.5 episode of follow-up silliness. It was then given two OVAs in late 2014 and early 2015 that delayed this release so that everything could thankfully be included. Animated by Brains Base, the show is one that plays to the intended audience well with a very appealing look in creating this world and making the characters distinctive but connected. With the popularity of the novels, which ran for seven volumes in its first run and has three in its second, and the PSP game as well, there’s definitely an audience that’s being served here.
The premise for it is simple in that we get to follow the story of Ema Asahina, a seventeen-year-old young woman who has been living with just her father for most of her life. He’s suddenly getting married again to someone and while he and his new wife are going off on some adventures together, she ends up moving in with her family. That family, which you really best not think about too much, is made up of thirteen brothers that range from 31 to 10. Her new stepmother has an expansive condominium that’s called the Sunrise Residence complex where there are multiple floors and a range of the brothers live there at any given time. Some have moved on with their own lives, others are finding themselves while here, and four of them are under eighteen so it makes sense that they still live at home. Ema is introduced to all of this without her father and new stepmother, keeping it all about the brothers and their lovely new sister.
I admit, trying to figure out the logistics of all of this with no apparent twist being brought into play as to how they’re all brothers just bothers the hell out of me. You really, really, have to turn your brain off to be able to accept this and move on with the show. Ema is your standard every-girl character type where she’s pleasant and nice, works hard, has a range of skills but nothing unique, and is truly excited to finally have a family. Having spent her life with just her father as her only family, a past which is explored towards the end with some decent reveals, it makes sense that she’d be super excited about having a range of brothers to be close to, to do things with, and to enjoy all that interaction. The one who’s not excited is her pet squirrel Juli, a very cute little critter who she can actually understand since Juli warns her about all the dangers. One of the brothers can also understand Juli, but that’s kept to the side for most of it and really makes no impact.
As you can expect, the brothers all have very different personalities, lives, traits, and so forth. One runs a company, others are in high school or college. Two are voice actors going through career problems and one of a fifth grader who is just plain spoiled and silly. One is also naturally an idol because that’s always a thing, right? We also get one that’s a cross-dresser and a few others that are all over the map. The defining trait among all of them, however?
They all fall in love with Ema.
And while there may be shades of actual brotherly love in the mix there with some of them, the majority of them have it as something more than platonic love. When you have all these men in the twenties and thirties expressing their desire for her in different ways, a young woman still only seventeen, it just gets to be creepy. This, in turn, makes those that are closer to her age, even twenty-year-old Subaru, come across as a lot more normal in showing their interest since they’re not blood relations. But it’s hard to really see it as true, when you have a hugely popular 15-year-old idol like Futo that decides that his seventeen-year-old not blood-related sister is the love of his life. The show works the concept of time loosely here as everything takes place over several months at the least, but the compression of events in the show around each episode focusing on individual brothers while including a range of others just means it’s all far too much.
I’ve said it with harem shows and I’ll say it with these types as well – you can have too much of a good thing. Thirteen brothers and the exclusion of anyone outside of the family just drags the story down heavily. Ema does her best to return their feelings in a nice way and it’s hard to tell if she really does view any of them in a way beyond that. The only one that I felt like she had a connection with was Natsume, who at age twenty-four is still a bit old for her, but at least they had some actual shared interests. But once you get past that there’s just a lot of weirdness to it in how aggressive they are in pursuing her. I do like how Ema handles it since she just wants to be a family and becomes invested in their lives and stories, but once you get past that element of it there’s a lot of attention being pushed on her in a really awkward way. Some of it goes a bit further than it should in terms of aggressiveness, again owing in particular to the ages involved, and that just made parts of it uncomfortable.
While there’s the uncomfortable element to it, Brothers Conflict does have some really fun bits to it. Seeing Ema navigate this range of characters and their situations all piled on top of the overall situation definitely makes for some weirdly amusing fun. There are a lot of personalities at play here and what they do hits a lot of silly and fun moments. Ema herself is the main draw, though she’s more of a cipher than you’d care for in a show like this as she falls into the usual empty lead character. What drew me to the show is the quality of the designs and animation as it really is quite appealing. Adding in the silly OVAs where they’re more themed, such as holiday and Valentine’s Day, gives the group a bit more to work with. But in the end, it is standard harem stuff and adheres to the usual rules, just with thirteen guys in the mix. The fans who had been invested in the show likely picked up the release that came out before, but for those that weren’t able to or missed it at the time, getting this very priced down edition makes perfect sense. It’s the right kind of slimmed down that gives you a lot of bang for the buck.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Episode 9 Commentary, Episode 12 Commentary, Textless Songs
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: June 4th, 2016
Running Time: 358 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.