Enjoying this title should probably be considered shameful if the number of times I shouted, “WHY ARe yoU DoING THat ShE’s YOuR SisTER!?!” is any indication. In Brother’s Conflict (hereafter referred to as BroCon), protagonist Ema (also referred to as “Chi”) is thrust into a new family dynamic when her father gets remarried after many years of being single. Once an only child, Ema is suddenly surrounded by siblings of varying ages and personalities, yet several of her new step-brothers have one thing in common—their romantic interest in Ema.
Yes, you heard that right. Welcome to the comparably mild subsection of the weird part of anime.
Rintaro, Ema’s father, is a businessman who travels frequently, and Ema goes from living a very solitary life with her pet squirrel (???*), Juri, to living in a mansion of sorts wherein one of her 13 step-brothers pops up everywhere she looks. And all the while as they pine for her, innocent Ema doesn’t understand what’s making her new brothers behave in this way—why they often seem to argue with each other and tease/confuse her! She loves her new brothers very much and just wants everyone to get along; after all, they are family.
If you didn’t find those explanatory paragraphs cringe-worthy, don’t worry, there’s more coming. As someone who has two older brothers of her own, I found the plot premise pretty disturbing, but I watched it early in my anime journey when I was not yet into subs and found myself RAPIDLY running out of shoujo/reverse harem/love triangle dubs to consume. In addition to Ema’s new brothers being romantically attracted to her, there’s also a huge age gap between 17 y/o Ema and the oldest brother to show interest in her, 27 y/o Kaname. In fact, why don’t we give the brothers a rundown in order of their age, hmm?
First Name, Last Name–age
- relevant information
This is going to take me like 17 years.
Masaomi Asahina–age 31
- Masaomi is a pediatrician who shares a special, very paternal relationship with the youngest brother, Wataru. He seems very normal and doesn’t take interest in a schoolgirl half his age (who is also his new sister), so good on him. Isn’t it sad when our benchmarks for decent human beings are so low? In any case, he’s a very kind character who I feel really takes on the father position for the whole brood to some extent. But I didn’t watch all the after-credit scenes, so who knows what weirdness he get up to that we don’t really know about.
Ukyo Asahina–age 29
- The group’s mama (as their own mother, Miwa, seems absentee), Ukyo spends a good deal of his time cooking and cleaning for the bunch. He’s also a lawyer, and his whole existence makes me wonder what the heck his fashionista mother is doing that she’d leave him in charge of caring for their whole, oversized family. Is she developing clothing for astronauts that plan to venture into space and destroy an asteroid set to demolish earth? But I digress. Absentee mother is absentee, and Ukyo steps up to the plate. And, again, those after credit scenes, guys. Who knows where he stands on the whole Ema-sister-wifey thing.
Kaname Asahina–age 27
- He’s a ?Buddist monk? but he’s still lusting over his new little sister 10 years his junior and I just????? don’t know???? The guy’s supposed to be the suave one. Think monk mixed with Thunder from Down Under. (I mean, I only ever saw a billboard, but it seems applicable.)
Hikaru Asahina– age 26
- Okay, so right up until the end, this dude is fine. Hikaru is first mistaken for a woman because, surprise surprise, how could he not be when he prefers to dress like one on a regular basis? (To clarify, Hikaru is a cis man who enjoys cross dressing.) He finds the whole “watching his brothers fall all over each other fighting over Ema”-thing very amusing to observe. Then the last episode happens and the audience is left going… NOT YOU TOO, HIKARU. NO. I THOUGHT YOU WERE BETTER THAN THIS. (Also, from what I’ve seen of the game, he’s SUPER HOT DRESSED AS A MAN??)
Tsubaki Asahina– age 24
- Pushy and assault-y (Can that be a new word?), Tsubaki is one of the triplets. Though he shares a voice actor with the English dub of Yurio from Yuri on Ice, he also has the whole “no-one-really-matters-outside-of-my-womb-mates-but-maybe-this-girl-only-I-can’t-articulate-my-feelings” thing going on kinda like Hikaru from Ouran High School Host Club. Anyway, consent matters, my dude.
Azusa Asahina– age 24
- Oh, look, it’s Josh Grelle; be still my fangirl heart. Anyway, Azusa is the closest to Tsubaki in both relationship and looks of all his siblings. He is, of course, really fond of Ema, but he’s not a total perv about it; he’s also willing go go up to bat against Azusa for her both romantically and in the whole “Hey, this is assault-y and not okay,” department. He’s still way too old for her, but we’ll leave it here for today, yeah?
Natsume Asahina– age 24
- The only brother that lives outside the large mansion the family shares, Natsume is the fraternal triplet. (The other two are “identical,” though I don’t think the creators used that word just right.) He’s pretty independent, but still loves his brothers and especially misses Tsubaki and Azusa if the names of his cats are anything to go by. Anyway, he’s got a special relationship with Subaru that’s become strained due to plot reasons and gets no less strained thanks to mutual interest in Ema.
Louis Asahina– age 22
- He’s a hairdresser with the unique ability to talk to squirrels, and I appreciate him for actually treating Ema as though she is a SISTER and not a potential love interest, thanks. Also, he and Juri kinda form the “Coalition to Protect Chi” and just… what do you do with that, Internet? No, but he’s a good guy. 10/10 unless the after credit scenes show something I don’t know about.
Subaru Asahina– age 20
- I actually REALLY like Subaru, to be honest. I think he’s such a sweetie and, as messed up as the whole situation is, I would totally ship him and Ema if their parents weren’t married, you know? Subaru is really passionate about his goals, but he also has what I’d consider to be more than just a crush on Ema. Also, he’s got a strained relationship with Natsume over their respective sports careers (or lack thereof?). Oh, didn’t I mention? Subaru is a basketball star at his college.
Lori Asahina– age 18
- With a backstory much more messed up in the game than in the anime, here comes Lori, the oldest of the high-school aged brothers. At least he’s not too old for her, even though, again, it’s still his sister. He’s not creepy with her, though, and doesn’t outright display anything other than brotherly affection even though he is subtly interested in her. He also gives her flowers. Lori is all about the flowers.
Yusuke Asahina– age 17
- Yusuke is the ONLY brother with an excuse to crush on Ema, because he liked her long before their parents ever got together. (Also, these absentee parent figures are SO messed up by getting engaged before their children had even met each other, but I digress.) He’s kinda a punk, but in that super tsundere way. He really struggles with the idea of attraction to his new sister and constantly denies it, but he does like her, and he is willing to fight for her against his brothers if he has to.
Fuuto Asahina– age 15
- A POTENTIAL RAPIST VOICED BY VIC MIGNOGNA. WHAT IS THIS LIFE??? Okay, Fuuto is… um… how do I phrase it without sounding crass? Fuuto, an actual superstar, is very full of himself, unkind to his family (especially Ema), and needs some serious therapy for his assault-y ways. I think being neglected by his mother and thrust into the spotlight so young really messed this kid up. He and Yusuke especially clash. (Also, I get that he’s supposed to be an idol, but Subaru is much more handsome, sooo??)
Wataru Asahina– age 10
- This kid acts way too young to be ten, but that’s just my opinion. I was thinking this kid was more like 7, but again, what do I, a teacher of young children, know? He’s sweet enough, but incredibly spoiled. You can’t spoil the kid just because his mother is absentee, Masaomi. You are a pediatrician and should know better than that.
If you haven’t already gotten it from my musings thus far, BroCon is based on an otome game based on a novel series. The franchise to date actually boasts 12 novels of two separate series (7 of the first and currently 5 of the one ongoing), 2 volumes of manga, 3 otome games, 1 season of anime, and a few OVAs. Only the anime series is in English, which is a shame because BroCon is ICONIC, and I know it would get a lot of play despite its weird premise by those of us who, like me, are just curious about this franchise that became SO popular overseas.
So, how problematic is it?
When I was in high school, there was a specific couple that received unusual commentary. Why? Well, technically, they were also siblings. You see, they had been dating long before their parents fell in love and got married, so they continued to date instead of breaking up when all of that drama went down. And as weird as it absolutely is, do you blame them? I mean, it’s not okay to date your sister, but… does that still count?
And in a situation like BroCon, as messed up as it is and though it admittedly steps a bit farther than that considering none of the characters were dating her before they became siblings-to-be (and the closest in that regard would be Yusuke)… I mean…
Yeah, it’s a mess. But I can see where the high school-aged kids at least would be interested in this attractive girl they are in no way related to living in a house with them and under no reliable adult supervision. Now does that mean I think they should act on it? No. Do I entirely blame them for it? …no.
AAAAANNNYWAY, as weird as the series is, I enjoyed it. I’ve watched it twice since I started this anime journey 3 years ago, and I feel like I’d enjoy watching it again soon. The art is fine—nothing astounding but fine enough for my purposes–and the voice acting was well done. BroCon is available to view on FunimationNow.
Tell me, have you seen BroCon? Have you played the games? What do you think? Do you believe we’ll ever see them in English? Let me know in the comments below!
Love, Peace, Geese,
*If you’ve seen BroCon, you know why I hesitate to simply consider him a squirrel and also that they never explain that bit???