EntertainmentDear Brother Is A Masterclass In Melodrama

Dear Brother Is A Masterclass In Melodrama

Anime is more popular now than it’s ever been, in the United States and abroad. But that popularity comes with a very real presentist bias. Streaming sites promote new and exciting action series like “Demon Slayer” and the upcoming “Chainsaw Man,” while older series are ignored. New viewers may be satisfied by the biggest hits. But sooner or later, they may find that what once seemed exciting becomes rote and disappointing. Instead of waiting for the anime industry to serve you a modern masterpiece on a platter, you may be better served digging through anime history for curiosities. Great anime continues to be made today, but some of the medium’s greatest successes could only ever have been produced in their own time and context.

“Dear Brother” aired in 1991, predating modern classics like “Neon Genesis Evangelion” and “Sailor Moon.” But it is also adapted from a comic that ran in 1975. Its creator, the artist Riyoko Ikeda, is part of the “Year 24 group,” a generation of female cartoonists whose thematic and artistic ambitions revolutionized Japanese comics in the 70s. Her biggest hit was “Rose of Versailles,” a retelling of the life of Marie Antoinette leading up to the French Revolution. The break-out star of “Rose of Versailles” was Oscar, a woman raised as a man. While she begins the series as Antoinette’s bodyguard, her sense of honor leads her to join the revolution, where she dies storming the Bastille. If the great innovation of “Rose” was to reimagine the downfall of the French nobility as a tale of rich, bickering teenagers, “Dear Brother” asks, “what if high school students were as powerful and corrupt as the French nobility?”

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