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AKA: 最近、妹のようすがちょっとおかしいんだが。(Saikin, Imouto no Yousu ga Chotto Okashiinda ga.)
Genre: High school comedy / drama
Length: Television series, 12 episodes, 24 minutes each
Distributor: Currently available streaming on crunchyroll.
Content Rating: R (nudity, fan service, girl-on-girl scenes, suggestive themes, crude humor, nonconsensual sexual situations)
Related Series: Recently, my sister is unusual. OAV
Also Recommended: Koi Kaze, Oreimo
Notes: Based on the manga by Matsuzawa Mari, currently running in Fujimi Shobo's Monthly Dragon Ace magazine.

As of this writing, a live action film adaptation is scheduled to be released in Spring 2014.
Rating: One Star
 

Recently, my sister is unusual.

Synopsis

First year high school girl Mitsuki Kanzaki's mother just remarried, and now she lives in a new home in a new neighborhood with a new older step brother, Yuuya. Her new stepdad later gets transferred overseas and her mother goes with him, leaving her alone with Yuuya, towards whom she acts cold and distant.

One day out of a blue a ghost named Hiyori takes over her body. She wants to get to Heaven, but to do so she needs to fulfill requirements to fill up a staircase leading to the gates of Heaven. She uses Mitsuki as her human pawn to do so, informing her that she'll have to make Yuuya fall for her in order for her to go to Heaven. To get rid of Hiyori, Mitsuki will have to open up to her brother, whether she wants to or not.


Review

Tim: Aaaaand the first episode has Hiyori getting very, very close to Mitsuki. Enough to drive Editor-in-Chief Carlos himself away from this show in a single episode. And this is the guy who sat through all of Apocalypse Zero.

Nick: Make no mistake, the stuff in that episode would fit right into a hentai series, and for a good chunk of this show my impression was that it would have been far better off if it had just been written as one, with older characters (Tim expressed similar views in some forum comments). I'm already not at all fond of any series' proposing or implying incest, and the early episodes of Recently, my sister is unusual threatened to take my dislike to a new extreme: we're treated to scenes involving an apparent urine fetish, scenes in which Hiyori hijacks Mitsuki's body in order to masturbate, and far more lolicon than I ever want to see in my life. This was indeed looking to be a fun ride...

Tim: Anyone who knows me knows that when I start an anime to review, I don't give up on it - regardless of how awful it is - once I begin doing so. And hoo boy did I question my stance in that regard while watching Recently, my sister is unusual.

If you somehow make it beyond the first episode (and we don't blame you if you didn't), you'll get to see how repetitive Recently, my sister is unusual. truly is. The plots typically boil down to this: Mitsuki is cranky, Hiyori tells her to get closer to her brother, she refuses, Hiyori controls Mitsuki, Mitsuki does something embarrassing in front of her brother, and repeat.

So we might as well talk about Hiyori now, shall we? We both ended up hating her before episode one's end. She's not only a selfish, annoying, lazy pain in the ass, but she's unfunny, uninteresting, one-dimensional, and for being a main character she serves little true purpose in the story until the finale. We both felt bad for Mitsuki after a while, since the majority of the series has her being the puppet of an annoying angel/ghost.

The most damning part of Recently, my sister is unusual. is that underneath all the Hiyori antics and bad comedy, there's actually some surprisingly well-told drama. Mitsuki's past was not a happy one, as evidenced in flashbacks throughout the series with her and her mother. She grew up with a lonely childhood, so her anti-social behavior is actually well justified, now suddenly obtaining a brother. Her whole keeping distance from him, doing so in worry that she'll lose HIM as well one day and just be hurt more, actually makes a lot of sense. If the series stuck to this kind of storytelling - or hell, if the series was just about Hiyori getting Mitsuki to just open up to her brother and massively toned down the fan service - Recently, my sister is unusual. could've actually have been a really nice show, honestly. But nope, that would get in the way of more Hiyori sexual comedy antics yuk yuk yuk.

There's also a lot of filler characters that add little to nothing through the series. Like Shoutarou Torii, Yuuya's perverted male best friend, and his obnoxious little sister Moe. This could've made for some sort of contrast between their family and the one of Yuuya/Mitsuki, but the series never goes anywhere with that. And finally there's Neko, a Yuki Nagato clone who stands on the sidelines and does absolutely nothing - and we mean nothing - in the series until the final episode.

Nick: For a very large chunk of the show, Hiyori pretty much single-handedly sinks my opinion of it. In addition to her being rude, selfish, and annoying as Tim mentioned, I just about lost it having to watch her harass Mitsuki and force her into the compromising situations she ends up in here. A trope I've come to hate lately has been female characters harassing (or downright assaulting) other girls in order for an anime to get away with showing this kind of stuff, and that's just about all that Hiyori does for the entire series' run. When she disappears briefly, later on, as part of a cliched "I miss her after all" sort of story (which makes absolutely no sense given what Mitsuki goes through), it's nothing less than an enormous relief for everyone watching this. Sexual harassment is bad regardless of who is doing it, and it doesn't help that Hiyori's "backstory" is downright bogus: are we meant to believe that she and Yuuya knew each other in a past life, or is she simply delusional? The ending sequence, set to a piece of J-Pop that's bad enough to make me miss the abysmal Kure-Nai OP, attempts to explain this, showing her as an oversized bobble-head doll walking among a group of faceless students to school and catching sight of Yuuya, and it falls flat on its face. It's nonsensical, it's useless to the main story, and it doesn't do anything to change the fact that Hiyori is a terrible character. Don't expect any closure from this lousy premise either, since the degree to which this series goes to set up another season (which I doubt I'll be watching) is contrived to the extreme, resolving absolutely nothing. Then again, given what Hiyori spends the show doing, I'm not sure if I want a resolution after all.....

Ironically, I don't truly dislike any of the human characters, though none are getting added to my favorites anytime soon. Most manifest some archetypical traits: in addition to the ones Tim mentioned, there's Yuuya's alcoholic "aunt" (who looks young enough to be his cousin) and his "childhood friend" Yukina, a former "tomboy" who has grown far more feminine since he last saw her (sweetly voiced by a wasted Hisaki Kanemoto - Tim), and whom Hiyori treats as competition. Aside from Shotarou, who is as dispensable as any "pervert best friend" is, they mostly comprise a pleasant bunch, even if the "you don't see me as a girl, so I shall make myself feminine" backstory has become extremely annoying to me recently. Yuuya himself does not do anything perverted, thankfully, and in spite of being a bit dull his levelheadedness is nonetheless crucial to maintaining the viewer's sanity in a show so dominated by Hiyori's stupid antics. I also generally found myself being able to sympathize with Mitsuki, whose bad temper is understandable for the reasons Tim previously mentioned.

Indeed, Recently, my sister is unusual noticeably improves whenever Hiyori's presence diminishes, or at least when she has fewer lines. An episode in which Mitsuki and Yuuya go to the aquarium together, for example, actually turns out to be fairly pleasant slice-of-life (in spite of some icky fanservice), while a hot springs episode near the series' end ironically turned out to be one of the ones I liked the most. It's a bad sign in an anime when a hot springs episode is LESS fanservice-filled than the rest of the series. On a technical scale, meanwhile, Recently, my sister is unusual at least isn't a total flop; while fairly generic, the character design is cute and competently-rendered, and the animation and music (sans the atrocious opening and ending themes) are just fine. All of this, on its own, would have made for a decent if unremarkable slice-of-life, which again goes to show just how much damage a single bad character can do.

Tim: Recently, my sister is unusual. might not have been the worst anime of winter 2014 - that "award" goes to Pupa - but it's definitely the most irritating. The plot is nonexistent, the characters are either wasted or really annoying, the fan service is distracting and pandering to the highest degree, and the copout ending hurts what would otherwise have been a cute, sweet finale. I actually talked to Nick before we started this review, and told him that the half-assed attempt at a second season set-up was exactly the reason I wouldn't give this show more than one star. The only positive I can muster up for Recently, my sister is unusual. is that at least there's no actual incest. But that's really backhanded praise and not a compliment. Oh well.

We almost gave it two stars because of some well-developed backstory at times and the occasional cute scene, but overall the terrible first half and Hiyori drown out all the possible good this series has. Where are the Ghostbusters when you need them?Tim Jones and Nick Browne

Recommended Audience: One would be hesitant to use the word "appropriate" in a series with so much sexual innuendo (i.e. Hiyori's "treatment" of Mitsuki in the first episode), fan service, and suggestive themes. We'd also consider it offensive for its flippant treatment of sexual harassment. Any more and this would seriously have been a hentai. Not recommended for anyone under 18, at any rate.



Version(s) Viewed: Digital stream from Crunchyroll, Japanese with English subs.
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Recently, my sister is unusual. © 2014 Matasuzawa Mari / KADOKAWA / Fujimi Shobo /
 
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