Anime Spotlight: Brothers Conflict

Brothers Conflict is an anime based on a Japanese novel series created by Atsuko Kanase, written by Takeshi Mizuno, and illustrated by Udajo. The anime began airing in Japan on July 2, 2013.

As of this writing, FUNimation Entertainment holds the North American streaming rights for the series.

The main character of the series is a high school girl named Ema Hinata; she is the daughter of a famous adventurer named Rintaro Hinata. He is about to marry a woman named Miwa Asahina, who is a successful apparel maker. In order to give the soon-to-be couple more room, Ema agrees to move into a condo with her future stepbrothers. It turns out Ema will have 13 stepbrothers, but only 12 of them live in the condo that she moves into. Ema has a pet squirrel named Juli; he’s a talking squirrel, but only she can understand what he’s saying. After Ema moves into the condo, most of the brothers develop some kind of romantic feelings toward her, and Juli takes it upon himself to protect Ema from them. Later in the series, Ema learns that she is adopted and that Rintaro is not her biological father.

Masaomi Asahina is the oldest of the stepbrothers, and he tends to serve as a father figure for the group. Masaomi is a doctor.

Ukyo Asahina is the second son, and he’s a successful lawyer. He does the cooking and cleaning around the condo, and he’s also the one who’s mostly likely to help the younger members of the family with their homework.

Kaname Asahina is the third son, and he’s a monk with a womanizing nature. He has no qualms flirting with Ema.

Hikaru Asahina is the fourth son, and he’s a cross-dressing novelist. He ‘s more of an observer than an actual participant most of the time, and he keeps a chart called “Brothers Conflict” to keep track of the odds of his various brothers getting together with Ema.

Tsubaki Asahina is one of a set of triplets, and he’s a voice actor with a cheeky attitude. He’s one of the brothers who develops feelings for Ema, which causes a strain with Azusa.

Azusa Asahina is another member of the set of triplets. He’s a voice actor like Tsubaki, although he’s calmer in demeanor than Tsubaki. Azusa also develops feelings for Ema, and he and Tsubaki end up getting into a bit of contest to see who can win her over first.

Natsume Asahina is the third of the triplets, and he’s the CEO of a game company that makes one of Ema’s favorite games. He is the only one of the brothers to not live in the condo. He also develops romantic feelings for Ema.

Louis Asahina is a hairdresser, and it turns out that he is also able to understand Juli the squirrel. After Ema learns that she is adopted, Louis talks to her and admits that he was adopted by Miwa Asahina.

Subaru Asahina is a college sophomore who is very athletic and is on his school’s basketball team. He is one of the brothers who develops romantic feelings for Ema.

Iori Asahina is a high school senior and has a vast knowledge of flowers and what they mean. It turns out that he has romantic feelings for Ema, but he’s more subtle about his feelings than the other brothers who are in love with her.

Yusuke Asahina is a classmate of Ema’s before she moves into the condo, and has had a crush on her for a while. He’s a nice guy, but also a bit of a delinquent.

Futo Asahina is a popular idol who has a devilish and cheeky personality. He develops feelings for Ema, and nearly rapes her on a couple of occasions during the series.

Wataru Asahina is the youngest of the brothers, and he’s still in elementary school. He’s a nice kid, but is also kind of spoiled. It appears that he has a little bit of a crush on Ema, but it’s more in an immature vein than the other brothers.

The focus of the series on most of these brothers developing feelings for Ema, and Ema not really picking up on this for a while. There are some stolen kisses, sudden embraces, and a couple of near rape scenes. Fortunately, Ema does get a clue near the end of the series, and in the last episode, decides that she only loves the Asahina brothers as family and nothing more. Unfortunately, while the brothers say they understand her feelings, we see at the end that they’re still fighting over her.

After watching this series, I found myself wondering why these brothers became so infatuated with Ema that they let it get in the way of their family relationship. Sure, Ema looks cute, but she really didn’t have anything in the way of a real personality to make her stand out; honestly, she might as well have been a cardboard cutout or something, because that’s how little of a personality she had. Perhaps it was the novelty of having a girl moving into the condo, but considering how much time is shown passing during the series, shouldn’t that novelty have worn off by the end of the series?

Also, these are all rather good looking guys. How come not a single one of them already has a girlfriend?

Another thing that was a little unsettling to me as a viewer was simply how much crap she was letting these brothers get away with when it came to her for most of the series. I’ve seen several comments about how she’s basically enduring sexual harassment, and for the most part, I would have to say that I would agree.

Here’s a breakdown of the antics Ema has to put up with from the various brothers:

*During episode three, Futo makes Ema go into her room and watch movies with him as a punishment for destroying his cover while he was out shopping; he tries to kiss her, but fortunately, they are interrupted by Yusuke.

*At the end of episode four, Tsubaki kisses Ema on the lips without her consent.

*In episode five, when Ukyo is teaching Ema how to cut a big piece of meat, he takes advantage of the situation to press himself up against her.

*At the end of episode five, Subaru grabs Ema into an unexpected embrace and asks Ema if she already has a boyfriend. After she says “no,” Subaru says he needs Ema to stay by his side forever.

*In episode six, Futo pushes Ema up against a tree and makes it appear he’s going to force her to kiss him; however, he blows on her face instead. Futo makes a comment that he wants her to look forward to something intimate and that he’s going to make high school life very exciting for her from here on out.

*At the end of episode six, Tsubaki tries to force himself on Ema. Fortunately, before he can progress beyond a kiss, he is interrupted by Azusa coming into the room.

*In episode seven, after Ema and Futo have gotten into their costumes for their respective classes’ entries for the school cultural fair, Futo forces Ema to go into a dark room with him. He manages to take a bit of Ema’s neck with the vampire fangs he has on, and through his dialogue the viewer can understand that he wants to go further. Ema actually takes some initiative here and kicks him off of her.

*In episode eight, Azusa admits his feelings to Ema, which in and of itself isn’t so bad. But later in the episode, he suddenly grabs her into an embrace and says he won’t apologize anymore because he loves Ema more than anyone else; he also tells her there’s no hurry, but that he’ll be waiting for an answer from her.

*In episode nine, while Ema is distraught over leaning that Rintaro is not her real father, Natsume takes her into an embrace, kisses her, and admits his feelings for her.

*Also in episode nine, in a “Is it a dream or isn’t it?” sequence, Juli the squirrel becomes a human man and admits that he also has romantic feelings for Ema.

*In episode 10, while Ema is asleep, Futo goes into her room. He begins opening up the buttons on her nighshirt, but doesn’t go any further than that. He complains about it being too hot and leaving.

*In episode 11, Ema is nervous about taking her college entrance exam, but some of the brothers tell her they don’t need an answer from her until after the exam. I thought this was rather insensitive, because the poor girl needed to not be distracted by them.

I was glad in the last episode to see that Ema wasn’t interested in any of the guys romantically. Unfortunately, these guys just showed how selfish they were by continuing to fight over her instead of respecting her feelings.

After seeing Brothers Conflict, I was glad to be able to see it through free streams and that I didn’t have to pay anything. If FUNimation were to acquire the home video rights for the series, I wouldn’t purchase the physical media.

If Wikipedia is to be believed, there’s now a second novel series being released in Japan called Brothers Conflict: Second Season. If for some reason this series were to be adapted into a second season of the anime series, I think I can safely say at this point that I wouldn’t be in a rush to watch it. Honestly, I can’t see how they can progress this series any further without it feeling repetitive. I’m really not interested in seeing Futo nearly raping Ema again, or seeing any of the brothers trying to force themselves on her again.

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