Anime Review: Brothers Conflict (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Drew Hurley 25.02.2017

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Brothers Conflict (UK Rating: 15)

Brothers Conflict started life - like so many other anime - as a light novel series and has since then received a game, manga, and now this anime adaptation. The story follows a young lady, named Ema Hinata, who is about to become part of a much bigger family. Ema's absentee father is about to marry a wealthy older woman, Miwa Asahina, who already has a considerable amount of children, and now Ema's about to get 13 new stepbrothers. Not only that, but Ema is moving into the lavish "Sunrise Estate" where eight of the brothers live! Get ready for some reverse-harem action when this complete collection comes, courtesy of Funimation via Anime Limited, to UK shores on 13th March on Blu-ray.

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It's pretty obvious how this show is going to play out: Ema has a considerable amount of young eligible bachelors in her life and there's plenty of that forbidden fruit hanging low! Ema spends the duration of the show trying to fit in with her new family and being completely oblivious to the advances of the boys. The cast of brothers contains plenty of familiar archetypes for the audience to pick their favourites from. There's the childhood friend with a crush, the older man, the womaniser, the innocent one, the jock, and even a cross-dressing okama!

You would be forgiven for thinking this was based on an otoma game, with the big cast of bishie boys and the oblivious female heroine, but it's actually based on a light novel series (although it later received game adaptations by, of course, Idea Factory). This gives the series the benefit of not having "Multiple Routes" to adapt for the story. Instead, there's a single story and a single man who will be winning Ema's heart at the end of the story. This doesn't mean there aren't plenty of stories to keep the audience guessing, though. There are a few of the brothers who all seem to be potential partners and get to have romantic moments with Ema; just keep in mind, though, that you won't get to see the true ending here, as you will need to read the light novels to find out.

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The problem with the series is how most of the boys treat Ema, and it's a damning case for how women are treated in anime. Most of the brothers treat her like a piece of meat and regularly tease her about what they want to do to her. Meanwhile, she just acts oblivious to their advances and appears to be a moron much of the time. As the men kiss her, caress her, and kabe-don her, while going on about their love for her, she just replies with "Of course we love each other! We're a family!" Each of the characters gets some time to try and romance her but none of these romances are particularly enjoyable to watch. Even the promising ones, like Ema's classmate Yusuke, who has always carried a torch for her but now has to try and deal with her being related to her, or the older Natsume who happens to work for the company who makes Ema's favourite games. These two, at least, treat Ema with some respect and seem to have some potential as romantic partners, yet these stories just end up being shallow and lacklustre, with not enough personality to the boys and a vapid mindless brick as the heroine.

The production values look good, at least, and are a faithful representation of the art seen in the light novels by artist Udajo. It's the standard bishie-boy shonen style with little to set it apart from other similar works, but it looks good enough. The anime was produced by Brain's Base - a lesser known studio, yet one that has had some impressive products, including Baccano! and Durarara!!. This release comes with dual audio and the English dub is okay, with plenty of recognisable voices in the cast. They even take part in some episode commentaries with the director, which is always a nice touch. One particular annoyance with the English, however, is the constant use of "Bro" and "Sis." Whilst this is a very common way to speak in Japan, it simply doesn't happen in English and it always ends up just sounding forced. It's a particular localisation problem that is far too prevalent.

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Along with the 12 episodes that make up the series, there are also three bonus episodes. There's an episode where a magic lamp is found and the brothers get three wishes to live out some fantasies with Ema. A Christmas trip to a snowy winter resort, for instance, or a sweet Valentine's Day competition for which boy can deliver up the best chocolate experience, which will make no sense to anyone who doesn't know the Valentine's traditions of Japan. These OVAs are very much more of the same, with little to set them apart from the regular series. The best feature of these OVAs is indisputably the changeover from the horrendous opening theme to something marginally better.

Rated 5 out of 10


A by the numbers otome series, Brothers Conflict serves to introduce plenty of bishie bachelors but doesn't really give a satisfying story. It's a shame, as it's rare to see a reverse harem series that much anymore, but if you are eager to watch one, you would be better served going back to one of the classics, like Ouran, or one of the Otomate adaptations.

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