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"Onii-chan, I love you!"
When 15-year-old orphan Wataru Minakami fails to get into the high school on which he has set his heart, and to which his best friend has gained admittance, he finds himself launched unwillingly onto a journey of discovery and self-discovery. Forced by circumstances and the enigmatic adults around him to a strange island community off the coast of Japan, Wataru finds a place has been held for him at a local school, and quarters at someplace called "Welcome House".
When he arrives at Welcome House, though, he receives the biggest surprise yet — waiting there for him are a baker's dozen sisters he'd never known he had. And all of them, from 8-year-old Hinako to 16-year-old Sakuya, are eager and willing to lavish him with sisterly adoration.
Wataru soon finds himself overwhelmed by the unconditional love he is given by his sisters, leading him into a spiral of doubt over his ability to return it in proportion, and over his worthiness at all to receive it. Strange hints of memory add to the mix, confusing him as to whether or not he does remember ever having sisters. And one of the sisters isn't a sister at all, but the agent of a mysterious person who wants to see the happy family reunion demolished as quickly as possible.
A quirky, low-key series that definitely isn't for adrenaline addicts, Sister Princess was based on one of the odder "dating simulation" games that are quite popular in Japan. Some of the atmosphere of the original game is still here (the sisters' affection can be almost incestuous at times), but the producers have moved beyond it to create a gentle, sweet story set in a kind of Magic Realism world and filled with enticing mystery. It is a "harem show" in the loosest sense of the term, but differences are refreshing and the entire thing is played only for the mildest of comedy.
The means and motives of the secret "villain" add a strange counterpoint of reality to offset the fantastic elements, but the blend works, and the final confrontation is surprisingly tense after the slow, low-energy buildup that takes you there.
Originally a series of light novels written by Sakurako Kimino (the writer of Strawberry Panic), it was adapted into a manga series in 2001, followed by a game and two anime series. The first TV series aired in 2001, and was followed in 2002 by a sequel series called Sister Princess Repure.
Sister Princess provides examples of:
- Beach Episode
- Big Fancy House: The "Welcome House".
- Brother-Sister Incest: When it's not being Big Brother Worship, it's this. All the girls are affectionate with Wataru, but none more so than Sakuya, the "adult" one; Karen has a more "pure" romantic love for him, while Chikage's is mysterious as usual. And that's what happens when Big Brother Relationship is the only one there is and has to fill up the role of all other relationships single-handed, repeat, all other relationships.
- This gets taken Up to Eleven in the anime when each girl takes a turn 'marrying' him in a series of mock weddings. In Repure Chikage wants to force feed him an apple while he's sleeping and Sakuya weeps when she realizes she probably won't marry him for real.
- Despite the doting of the girls, there's no sign that Wataru feels anything more than brotherly affection for them. Well, at least not in the anime.
- But Not Too Foreign: Aria (French), Yotsuba (British), Haruka (German).
- Butterfly of Doom: Associated with Chikage.
- Butt Monkey: Sometimes Mami, sometimes Yamada. Sometimes both.
- Catch Phrase: Wataru's anime-only "This can't be happening to me!"/"It can't be true!", Yotsuba's "Check!", and Jeeves' "I'm just a (fill-in-the-blank), as you can see."
- Cherry Blossoms
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Sakuya, but just slightly, and interestingly enough, it's against Wataru's male friend Akio. See the Ho Yay entry.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Aria
- Conspicuous CG: The bear email thing, and most of the shots of the giant statue on the island.
- Crystal Ball Scheduling: Yamada seems to watch episodes of the Super Robot show that seems to comment exactly on what's happening in the current episode.
- A Day in the Limelight: Every girl gets at least one episode that focuses largely on them.
- Dojikko: Kaho
- Evil Plan: For a given value of evil Akio's plan to seperate Wataru from his sisters and Promise Island is the only thing resembling an overarching plot in the series and forms the climax.
- Evolving Credits: The opening changes around halfway through the series.
- FemBot: Mecha-Rin-Rin-chan.
- Fire-Breathing Diner: What happens with too much spice...
- Gadgeteer Genius: Rin-rin, the inventor and ambitious genius, who can produce high-tech items (like home-built laptop PCs with a custom operating system) overnight for literal pocket change.
- Genki Girl: Mamoru.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Oh. My. For one, those sisters are closer to a bunch of obsessed fan girls than anything else.
- Harmless Villain
- Mami is sent to make Wataru leave the island, but never actually does anything but observe him... and she's the one who chases after him and begs him to return when he leaves.
- Heel Face Turn: Mami, who ends up defying her real brother to bring Wataru back to the island.
- Akio as well: after Wataru decides to stay on the island with his sisters, Akio begins attending school on the island with Mami.
- Hermetic Magic: Chikage's style, complete with tarot cards and crystal ball.
- Humongous Mecha: Mecha-Rin-Rin, who is a separate entity from Mecha-Rin-Rin-chan.
- I Have the High Ground: Chikage in her first appearance.
- Improbably-Female Cast: Well, Wataru does have 12 sisters + Mami.
- Incest Subtext: Where the series spends about 90% of its time. No, seriously, this goes to ridiculous extremes. Are those sisters or what? In fact, it's taken to such heights that it could pass off as Refuge in Audacity.
- Innocent Innuendo: After Haruka assists an injured Wataru in the bath, she asks him to come to her room later. Cut to commercial. In the next shot, we see visuals of the outside of Haruka's room, and hear lines like "No, Beloved Brother, don't move so suddenly!" and "Is it okay now, Haruka?" Of course, there's a bit of moaning and mood music playing as well. It's a moxibustion treatment.
- Japanese Sibling Terminology: Oh, brother. Each sister calls Wataru by a different variant of "Big Brother". Many of these sound strange in English — indeed, some of the "English" equivalents are cribbed from various foreign languages — and many are rarely used in Japanese to begin with. Incidentally, ADV Films' hand was forced during their earlier release of Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi. The translations were decided upon when a character in that series rattles off all the Sister Princess "Big Brother" terms.
- The Jeeves: Jeeves, and his various disguises.
- Joshikousei: All of the sisters.
- Kudzu Plot: Just how did Wataru wind up with 12 sisters he'd never met, some of whom hail from the other side of the world? Inquiring minds want to know.
- In the original G's Magazine stories it's shown the siblings have different mothers but the same father, who is supposedly a renowned diplomat. Of course, the saga told in G's Magazine (and the dating games) take place in a totally different reality from the first season anime series...
- Inexplicably Identical Individuals: Jeeves and his many appearances.
- Lady and Knight: Wataru and Chikage may or may not have been a White Knight and Bright Lady in a past life depending on what you think of her Day in The Limelight.
- Large Ham: Taro Yamada.
- Lethal Chef: Shirayuki initially, although her cooking tends to be more weird than deadly. Later she becomes quite adept... as long as she's happy.
- Limited Wardrobe: The characters have only a handful of outfits each, except for fashion-focused Sakuya.
- Lonely Piano Piece: A slow, somber, piano version of the opening theme plays during the sadder moments, oftentimes when one or more of the sisters are dealing with loneliness due to physical or psychological separation from their brother.
- Magic Realism: Especially around Chikage and Aria in episode 15, when a tree spirit helps her look for her ribbon, and does a lot magic around her.
- Massive Numbered Siblings
- Meaningful Name: Shirayuki, which literally means "snow white". The fairy tale Snow White is known as "Shirayuki-hime" ("Princess Snow White") in Japan; tellingly, Shirayuki refers to herself as "Hime".
- Meganekko: Marie.
- Nice Hat: Hina wears a cute bear hat when she goes out looking for Mr. Teddy.
- No Name Given: None of the sisters have family names and until the anime Wataru was only ever referred to by a form of "brother". This makes it impossible to know for sure whether they're half-sisters or full sisters to each other.
- Offscreen Teleportation: Jeeves pulls this off in Episode 2 in his disguise as a fisherman. Wataru doesn't appear to notice.
- Oracular Urchin: Chikage
- Ordinary High School Student: Wataru, and arguably Yamada when not in Large Ham mode.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Wataru sees right through Clover's disguise (Yotsuba), but plays along anyway. He even helps helps her get up during a chase sequence when she trips, then they "resume" the chase.
- Parental Abandonment: Well, we don't ever see anyone's parents, so...
- Pastel-Chalked Freeze-Frame: The traditional end to an episode.
- Perpetual Poverty: Rin-rin, who's always asking Wataru for research grants/donations.
- Please Don't Leave Me: Sakuya, and to a lesser extent, Karen and the other girls, at the end of the Wham! Episode.
- Recap Episode: Wataru reflects on his past experiences with his sisters in episode 13.
- Refuge in Audacity: And how!... Just take a look the episode summaries and figure what isn't. All the scenes of Suggestive Collisions between Wataru and [insert girl's name here] are simply way too blatant to belong in just Getting Crap Past the Radar.
- Reincarnation: Apparently it happened to Chikage and Wataru.
- Reverse Mole: Mami, who starts off as a true mole, but is seduced to the brother side of the Force.
- Robot Girl: Mecha-Rin-rin-chan, who is a separate entity from Mecha-Rin-Rin.
- Show Within a Show: The Super Robot anime that Yamada watches and builds models for.
- Slice of Life: It's fairly slow paced compared to some other shows, but interesting things happen to Wataru and his sisters while on the island.
- Sparkling Stream of Tears
- Stock British Phrases: Yotsuba spouts a few of these, particularly in the English dub.
- Stock Footage: Chikage's tarot readings.
- Stop Helping Me!: Wataru seems to scream this from time to time regarding his sisters.
- Suggestive Collision: On occasion, between Wataru and a couple of his sisters, which ends up in very embarrassing moments for him.
- Theme Tune Cameo: Shirayuki occasionally hums melodies from the background music.
- Third Person Person: Hinako, Kaho, Aria, Shirayuki (who also calls herself "Princess"), and Sakuya in the wedding episode.
- Unwanted Harem: Wataru's sisters, though A) In time he comes to love them and B) It's not quite clear (in the anime, anyway) if he considers them a harem rather than a family.
- Verbal Tic: Shirayuki ends her sentences with "desu-no"; Aria is a bit of a crybaby, and whenever she utters the onomatopoeia "kusu" it means she's about to lose it. Haruka utters the onomatopoeia for "blush" when the situation calls for it.
- Wearing a Flag on Your Head: Yotsuba does it with the Union Jack.
- Weddings in Japan: In episode 7, the sisters discuss their wedding plans. Also, wedding dresses!
- Western Zodiac: Each girl is born under a different signs of the Zodiac.
- Wham! Episode: Episode 24, when Akio convinces Wataru to at least visit Tokyo to see the high school he should've been at.
- Why Do You Keep Changing Jobs?: Jeeves seems to always mysteriously appear wherever Wataru is, and his job title changes based on where Wataru is and what he needs at the moment.
- Yamato Nadeshiko: Haruka, though she's part German she fills the rest: kimono, tea ceremony, devotion to family, practices with a naginata, etc.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Akio literally has blue hair, while four of the sisters (five if you count Mami) have colors that would otherwise be impossible without dye.
- Zip Me Up: Sakuya asks this of Wataru in their first meeting. While she was behind a dressing room curtain, no less!