Binbou Shimai Monogatari

October 25, 2008

If your Japanese vocabulary isn’t that good yet, perhaps I could forgive you if you first heard and thought that Binbou Shimai Monogatari has some adult material in it. I assure you, it is nothing of that sort or even close to it. The title of this show literally means ‘Poor Sisters Story’, and yes, ‘binbou’ in Japanese means poor. Uh huh. It might sound like a slutty word. Ah well, like they say, it’s a sin to be poor.
 
And even though I said that this is a story about poor sisters, don’t even expect to see any hot yuri sex between them. Instead, this series a heart warming and touching one which will leave viewers going "Aww…". That’s right. Though this series may be short, in the sense that it lasts only 10 episodes, how I wished that there are a little more episodes in this light-hearted slice of life comedy series. Why only 10 episodes instead of the usual 12 or 13 episodes. Not much to tell or is it the producers ran out of budget by that time? Hahaha. Just kidding.
 
The main pair of twins of this series is the Yamada sisters, Kyo and Asu. As narrated at the start of each episode, the sisters tell viewers how their dear mother has passed away soon after giving birth to her second child while their dad has been a useless bum by accumulating debts from his gambling habit. Due to that, he has abandoned his poor children and gone missing. I guess because of that, they really don’t know who he is and the family photo has his face blacked out. What kind of a father he is to abandon his children in their darkest hour.
 
But the Yamada sisters are strong-willed to leave on. As the narration continues, we see that they live in a run-down 40 year old single room apartment with no attached toilet. Even though they lack many modern amenities that are deemed necessities in today’s world, the most important thing that they have is each other. And that is enough for them to make them happy. All of us should emulate the duo and not put emphasize on material wealth. 15 year old Kyo (voiced by Maaya Sakamoto who did previous anime roles like Haruhi in Ouran High School Host Club, Amano in Kanon and Tomoyo in Tsubasa Chronicle) is the eldest one and helps supplement a little side income for them by doing newspaper deliveries after school. Yeah, she’s got it tough going unlike most of us who will be playing or occupied with our own hobbies and interests at that time. 9 year old Asu (voiced by Tomoko Kaneda who did previous anime roles like Chiyo of Azumanga Daioh, Lavie of Keroro Gunsou and Aoi of Myself; Yourself) on the other hand is the younger one and does the household chores like cooking and cleaning.
 
In every episode, you’ll get to see how the sisters bond closer to each other with their love. And no, no hot yuri sex kinda love relationship. Their love is purely sisterly love. Most of the time when they give and shower each other with their heart warming love, you’ll see sakura petals floating around them. I know some may find it gross, but hey, that’s because you’ve never been so lovey-dovey with your siblings before. Of course there are challenging times which tests the sisters bond and trust. Like they say, life isn’t a bed of roses. But at the end of each episode, they’ll come out fine and their love for each other grows even more. Aww…
 
Just like in episode 1 where the fireworks festival is soon about to begin. Asu has been saving money for that festival because she intends to enjoy all those treats and snacks at the festival with Kyo. Yeah, she even did some early reconnaissance to check the stalls they would be visiting later. However on the night of the festival, Asu is devastated to know that all the hard-earned money in the piggy bank is missing. Where did it go? Kyo comes back with a new yukata in hand. Kyo happily says how she has used that money to buy that new yukata for Asu. But Asu isn’t pleased to hear it and it’s understandable that she’s quite upset. She rushes out and tells Kyo how she doesn’t want it. Kyo tries to look for Asu but it started raining. Since Kyo is afraid of lightning, she has to brave it and find Asu. Meanwhile Asu takes shelter at a shop where Kyo bought the yukata. Asu remembers how Kyo always did things for her and likewise Kyo starts recalling how she brought an umbrella to school to fetch Asu while during a thunderstorm. Asu realizes her sister’s good intentions, feels guilty and decides to put on the yukata. She then goes searching for Kyo but couldn’t find her. Kyo is already at the festival and realizes how much effort Asu has put into this plan of hers. Feeling guilty, Kyo goes up to higher ground and calls out Asu’s name. Luckily, Asu heard it and the sisters are reunited as they watch the fireworks display. The next morning, everything is back at to normal at their humble home as they reassured each other how they will be by each other’s side. Meanwhile their departed mother (voiced by Aya Hisakawa who did Maya in Tenjou Tenge and Skuld in Aa! Megami-sama) who is watching them from the heavens narrates how she is keeping her promise of protecting them and their bonds as her spirits hugs them.
 
In episode 2, the sisters are dreading this time of moment. A dreadful thing which always happen at the same time every month. They call this dreadful thing the demon king as the sisters hug each other in fear in their tiny apartment room. The demon king is approaching as they can hear his footsteps. Kyo is shivering but asserts that she will protect Asu no matter what. But it turns out that demon king is the elderly landlord of this apartment, Genzou Hayashi. Yeah, they’ve got to pay up their rent or risk being evicted. So sad that they have to pay their rent even if they’re poor. No doubt this old guy may seem heartless and cold but he doesn’t discriminate anyone when it comes to paying their rent. So okay, maybe he should understand the circumstances the girls are in. But don’t hate him just yet. Anyway, this particular month, the sisters notice how Genzou didn’t turn up on time to collect payment and thinks he had a change of heart and that they don’t have to pay. Is this a dream come true? However, as another resident of the apartment, the ever sunglass-wearing lady, Ranko Saegusa, mentions that Genzou is being hospitalized after breaking his leg. The sisters realized and felt sympathy for him and decides to pay him a visit a hospital and buy some apples for him. However, upon their arrival, Genzou seems grumpy and doesn’t really appreciate what they’re doing. Uh huh, they made some tea and gave him a massage too! Though he didn’t say much, but I guess he’s indicating that they shouldn’t come visit him. But to his surprise, the sisters kept coming and they even brought their happy smiles. Then 1 night, they realized that their room doesn’t leak when it rains. That’s because Genzou was up on the roof fixing it. Probably that’s how he hurt his leg when he fell off. Even with a cold exterior, this guy actually does care for them. He just doesn’t show it upfront. Call it a man’s ego, if you will. But I suppose he has to let go a little of it when Kyo and Asu asks him to get well faster, Genzou thanks them. Once Genzou is out of hospital, he finds the sisters playing water outside the apartment in their swimsuits. Is he really going to properly thank them? Well… he asked them for this month’s rent straight in their faces. Ah well, it’s back to business as usual. But I’m sure the girls are glad to have him back. Yeah, they’ll have to work harder to pay their rent on time. But they won’t really mind that, won’t they?
 
If there are poor sisters, there must be rich sisters too, right? Yup, we’re introduced to a pair on the opposite polar in episode 3. It all began when Asu was trying to get some radish at a supermarket due to some super cheap sale. After pushing her way through all those fat aunties, since there is only one left, some other little brat, Ginko Echigoya (voiced by Etsuko Kozakura who voiced Yoriko in You’re Under Arrest and Tamama in Keroro Gunsou), took it before Asu could even get her hands on it. Remember, the early bird always catches the worm. But Asu isn’t going to let this stop her and looks forward to tomorrow’s cheap sale foodstuff. However in school, Asu notices Ginko and realizes she is from her same school. Obviously the duo had the same idea of going to the supermarket and get the cheap foodstuff. They both got their hands on it but Asu eventually lets go when Ginko started crying. However, it was just a ploy. Unfortunately, a lady takes it away and the girls are left with nothing. Ginko blames Asu and as compensation, Asu takes her back to her apartment. But the duo are surprised to find Kyo have already bought that item earlier on. Asu felt bad for Ginko and tells Kyo to give up that foodstuff for her, which she did. I’m sure Ginko doesn’t understand the way how poor people think and gets disgusted everytime Kyo and Asu gets all sisterly lovey-dovey with each other. Soon they escorted Ginko back to her home and to their surprise, it’s a bloody huge mansion! Not only that, Ginko proceeds to feed that foodstuff to her pet crocodile, John! Just then, Ginko’s elder sister, Kinko Echigoya (voiced by Naomi Shindou who voiced Shizuru in Mai-HiME), appears and Ginko tells her how she bought the foodstuff at the supermarket at dirt cheap price. But Kinko isn’t amused. She knows Ginko is lying because she was spying at her at the supermarket. She drags Ginko in and the Yamada sisters must be confused over what’s happening.
 
That night, Asu and Ginko browsed a brochure about another cheap sale for carrots and vows to get them. The next day, round 3 commences but in the end they both failed to get them. I’m thinking all those aunties are really kiasu. Ginko started crying and says how she’s useless and disappointed her sister and all that. On the other hand, Kinko is spying on Ginko again but bumps into Kyo who is also there. After hearing Ginko’s true feelings, she decides to leave and thinks Ginko hates her. While Asu chats with Ginko, the latter realizes that though Kinko is strict, she too has her nice side. With that, Ginko decides to be honest and tell the truth when she gets home. Kinko is happy when Ginko comes clean and treats her injured leg (she got it during that mad carrot tussle). Ginko tells Asu that it’ll be alright for them to be friends. Ah, all is well for the rich sisters too as the poor sisters walk home hand in hand with big smiles on their faces. You know, there is something about Kinko which bugs me. I’m wondering if she’s so rich, why does she need to send her little sister to buy all those cheap stuffs? I mean, don’t they have money? But I guess buying cheaper stuffs means they get to save more and get even richer. But later you’ll find that Kinko has a penchant for cheap sale bargains. Ah I see it’s not only a poor man or middle-income man’s disease. But why sent Kinko to do the job? Well, Kinko’s pretty busy with her school activities and stuff. But this clears my stereotypic perception of the rich sisters here as arrogant. There is still, but it isn’t as bad as I thought it would be.
 
In episode 4, Kyo and Asu finds a wallet on the ground. Must be real tempting to see all the money inside it. Can’t blame them for having thoughts of spending things that they yearn for, like eating cake or Kyo buying a dress to attend Asu’s Parent’s Day at school (so that she looks more mature and doesn’t embarrass Asu). But since this show has that feel targeted for younger audiences as well, the sisters didn’t turn to the dark side. As Kyo has to rush off to school first, it seems their neighbour Ranko has been watching them and soon approaches Asu and tells her that the wallet is hers. With that, Asu is brought back down to earth and gives the wallet back to her. See, Asu is still good at heart. But can it be the thought that counts too? This is further proven that the ID inside the wallet bears Ranko’s name. As gratitude, Ranko takes Asu for some ice cream at a restaurant but Asu is feeling uneasy. She feels guilty of enjoying all those treats without her sister. Aww… How thoughtful. Asu ends up bringing back some for Kyo. Kyo is quite happy and thanks Ranko for the treats but would like to ask her for 1 more favour. Since Kyo notices Ranko has several suits, she wants to know if she could borrow one. Ranko brings Kyo to her room and I kinda noticed it’s worse than a pig-sty. Even the Yamada sisters have better hygiene. We see Kyo given a complete makeover (well not really) as the pink suit gives her a more mature look. With that, Kyo attends Asu’s Parent’s Day class but she didn’t dress in the pink suit. Kyo came dressed in her normal usual school uniform. It doesn’t matter if she couldn’t be her mom on that day. As long she can make Asu feel safe and at ease, it’ll be okay and that she has kept her promise. After school, Asu relates how happy she is that Kyo came to see her and suggests that she would do the same when Kyo’s turn come. But Kyo isn’t so sure about it. Must be a different case (embarrassing, that is) when a little sister visits the bigger one.
 
In episode 5, the sisters find Genzou staring melancholy at a sole sakura petal blooming outside the apartment’s tree. When they go down to greet him, a gust of wind then blew past them and when he turn to look behind, he saw the sisters in a different light and this made Genzou blurt out a pair of names, Eriko and Mami. He then realizes that they’re the poor sisters and acted as though none of it happened, leaving the girls in stitches. Later when Kyo happily receives her pay, she was wondering where she and Asu should go but ends up deciding to go to the public bath. On their way out, they bump into Genzou. Why, he is asking the girls to leave the apartment! Oh no! Can it be true? Kyo and Asu pleads for him to reconsider and probably promise to pay their rent on time but Genzou is firm in his decision. He even says how he’ll use his eviction powers if they don’t get out. How cruel is he going get? Fate is indeed cruel. Oh no! The place where they’ve been staying all this while, and now this is goodbye? And what’s this, the place is going to be torn down as well?! As the duo packed their bags and starts searching for a place to live, they bump into several shopkeepers who seems pretty nice in offering the sisters to stay at their place. Yeah, they’re even arguing over it. Why now? Anyway, they are being told that Genzou told them to take them in after evacuating them.
 
The sisters are even shocked to find that though Genzou had never told them, he had always viewed them as his grandchildren. An even more shocking revelation is revealed. 40 years ago, his wife and daughter, Eriko and Mami were killed by an oncoming truck back at that apartment. Ever since then, he has spoken very much less and never smiled. Poor guy. So the sakura tree is always important to him and that’s why he was staring at it. The girls realized everything and rushes back to stop the tearing down. No doubt it’s a run-down apartment, but it’s a place where they love and can call home. By the time they reached back, the tearing down has begun. They then realized that it was the next door apartment that is being torn down. Genzou’s purpose of evicting them was for their safety. He didn’t want a repeat of history as a construction site has all those heavy machineries and trucks. This was also the reason why Genzou earlier wrapped the sakura petal as to protect them from the affects of the tearing down like being blown away in the wind. I know he’s caring but he should at least say it clear earlier on and not leave the girls in a big worry. The girls tell Genzou that they want to continue living here even if the construction is on going. But I guess Genzou wouldn’t mind them having it their own way. As the sisters say how Genzou protected them, Asu tells Kyo that this apartment is the place where she always want to be with her sister. They also say how even though they’re both without parents, they’re not really alone as there is somebody watching over them. Genzou looks up at the sakura petal and for once, we see him break into a smile. Another heart warming episode. The series is getting better and better.
 
The rich sisters are back in episode 6. Remember that torn down building next to the 40 year old run-down apartment? It looks like it has been rebuilt as an extravagant apartment which belongs to the rich sisters! Wow. Anyway, Ginko is still worried about her failure and uselessness to Kinko. She gets this disgusted feeling once more when she sees Kyo and Asu being so lovey-dovey. And it’s in the morning too. Ugh. I guess this shows Ginko has never gotten this type of love from Kinko. More like getting tough love. Because of this, Ginko is very curious about the duo as they’re always together. Not only that, Ginko also notices how Asu’s other classmates are quite friendly and getting along well with her. Anyway Ginko did inform them about their newly built apartment but what follows next is more disturbing. Since she can’t get that curiosity off her chest, she decides to get several spy equipment and spy on the Yamada sisters! Woah! Is this legal? She’s turning into a stalker at her age. After one of her maids help her set up the high-tech equipment on the rooftop, Ginko starts her spying, er… I mean observation. Well, it seems pretty normal to me. Eating, talking, sleeping. Seems pretty normal. Probably something little rich kids wouldn’t understand. Not happy with her findings, Ginko goes over late at night to invite them over. Thing is, Kyo fell asleep at their place. And I thought all this rich stuff should be an eye opener. Ah well, Kyo must be tired after all that newspaper delivery. Ginko then realizes how the poor sisters are working hard and then it hit her that Kinko too is working hard. But I guess this explains why Ginko’s feeling of being lonely lately as this translates into her being a little selfish and jealous. Something about having to live up to her expectations but always falls short. After Kyo and Asu left, Kinko returns home late. And for once, Ginko learned something from them (not sure if it’s through her snooping… oops, I mean observation). Ginko gives her big sister a big hug for always taking care of her. Aww… Who says rich sisters can’t give each other a hug too? Kinko thanks her and with that, Ginko’s feelings of her sister is assured. She loves her more than ever now.
 
Since Valentine’s Day is around the corner episode 7, viewers may start to think something yuri is going to happen between the poor sisters because Asu intends to bake some heart-shaped chocolate for Kyo. But remember, Asu loves her sister is because she is her sister. There is no way, I repeat, no way that love is going to turn into something yuri. Once done, Asu proceeds to Kyo’s school to present her home-made chocolates from the bottom of her heart. Unfortunately, to Asu’s horror, she spots Kyo nervously handing her chocolates to another guy before running away! Oh no. Asu must be thinking her sister has someone else in mind that she loves. But what is wrong with that? Asu fears that if Kyo has someone new in her life, Asu will be left all alone. Oh the horror! It can’t be just like what their dad did to them. But Asu isn’t about to give up and decides to stalk that guy by following him. Another stalker in the making? Asu is waiting for a chance for that guy to show his imperfect or dark side but finds out in the end that he’s really a good guy after all, and that her sister will be going away from her forever. Back home, Kyo notices the heart-shaped chocolate and wonders if she’s going to give it to her. Asu then spilled the beans about that incident and tells Kyo that she probably doesn’t need this chocolate. Asu gets emotionally upset because she thinks will leave her and rushes out. She’s got to stop doing this everytime they don’t agree on something. That’s because the night is cold and Asu forgot her coat. Too late to be thinking about that. Kyo goes out as usual in search of little Asu.
 
Meanwhile Asu is at the playground thinking about stuff when she spots Kyo’s future boyfriend. What’s this? He’s going out with another girl? What’s going on? Is he two-timing her? Asu is confused when Kyo finally found her. Asu gave a made-up statement about a bloody cheap nikuman sale to cover her running away prevent her from seeing the couple. And Kyo blindly but wholeheartedly believed her. Since Kyo insisted that they find the shop, while walking around, Asu spots the couple and tries several tricks not to let Kyo see them. Funny thing is, that cheap nikuman sale really did exist, much to Asu’s surprise. At even the right discounted price! As they head in, the couple too enters. Oh no. Will emotions run high and fists fly? Nope. The couple thanks Kyo for setting them up. So it looks like Kyo was giving the chocolates as a messenger for that girl. Yeah, why was she so nervous like as though she’s confessing to him? Never mind that. But just like that new happy couple, Asu’s misconception about that has been cleared. Duh. Didn’t that crossed her mind before jumping to conclusions (okay, it didn’t crossed mine too)? Kyo is glad that Asu felt jealous because in a way it showed that she cared for her. Lastly, as they’re walking home, Kyo asks Asu who she’s going to give that heart-shaped chocolate. Asu tells her to her favourite person. I can’t believe Kyo can get as dense as this. She still wonders who that favourite person is as Asu rushes ahead and makes Kyo chase after her. Aiyoh! Get it already lah! I guess Asu loves teasing her. Revenge? Ah well, I was hoping that there would be some love chemistry for Kyo. You know, she’s already at an age where most girls are talking about love and boyfriend. But I suppose Kyo’s first love is definitely Asu. And nothing yuri, okay!
 
In contrast in reports that musicians are rich and famous, those who made it big time are only a fraction of the total musicians in the world. Yeah, the rest are just struggling… and poor. So in episode 8, we see Asu having a vocal music test. Let’s just say she’s not American Idol material. Not only that, her pals thinks she’s got a hell of a good voice. Haven’t heard her sing before, haven’t ‘cha? Due to Asu’s number, her turn will come next week. Back at her apartment, Kyo seems to be frightened about hearing ghostly-like singing every night. Then we find out that music actually comes from their next door neighbour, a guitar playing struggling musician, Masao Ichinokura. Number 1, I wonder how Kyo finds it eerie since his guitar playing is quite okay. Number 2, because of his mediocre guitar play, that’s why he can’t hit big time. Hahaha. Just kidding. Anyway the sisters soon find Ichinokura’s music quite soothing. It’s like attending a free concert. Yeah, this guy has 3 fangirls come knocking on his door and giving him gifts. Okay, so his life isn’t that bad. But he’s still poor nonetheless. Asu mentions about her upcoming music test and Ichinokura gladly decides to coach her vocal skills. It may seem unfitting for Asu to do push-ups and other exercises but I suppose if one needs to have a good voice, it has to come from the stomach. As time passes, Asu improves. Not to say she has become the best, but it’s definitely better than mine anytime. And I can’t believe she did it all in 1 week! With that, Asu passes her music test with flying colours.
 
Soon, the sisters notice that Ichinokura hasn’t been back to his room for a week. So when they find out those 3 fangirls at Ichinokura’s doorstep and Asu told them how she saw Ichinokura putting up his precious guitar up for sale at a store the other day, the fangirls fears the worst. He may have given up singing. Asu felt guilty because even though Ichinokura was in a difficult position, he went through all that trouble to coach Asu music. Just then, they heard a familiar voice singing at the bottom of the stairs. Why, it’s Ichinokura! He’s back with his guitar. The fangirls rush to his side and felt relieved. Ichinokura tells them that he was away working hard to get back the guitar he put up for sale. He initially thought of quitting after failing auditions after auditions. He even thought it’s going to be impossible for him. But after seeing Asu’s will and determination, he decided that music is his life and because he made a promise to Asu that he will continue singing. With that, the sisters get to hear Ichinokura sing from their balcony every night. I have a theory why Ichinokura didn’t get pass the auditions. That’s because his voice isn’t that great either! Hahahaha! Oops. Sorry. Forgive me. I forgot mine is much worse :'(.
 
We should be thankful that in today’s world, we are blessed with many modern high-tech equipment. For instance, the ubiquitous and now can’t-live-without-it handphone. In episode 9, we see how the sister’s poor position has deprived them of such conveniences. In this era where every darn kid knows how to operate a handphone efficiently like the back of their hands, Kyo and Asu are like from the dinosaur age, not knowing how to even operate one. It all began when Asu wins a pair of handphone set at a lottery. When she brings it back, she and her sister are amazed with it. Due to the credit limit of 3000 Yen, the sisters decide to save and only call each other when necessary. At school, it seems Ginko is showing off her expertise and knowledge on how to operate a handphone to Asu. Even all that ranting, it seems that Ginko doesn’t have one herself and how she wished for her sis to get her 1. Then on her way home, Asu tries to call Kyo but she was busy helping a teacher and she left her handphone in her bag. Asu wonders why she can’t connect so Ginko took the opportunity and try. Ginko called her sister who is studying in the library. I wonder why Kinko didn’t tell her to call back. I mean, Ginko really took her own sweet time talking! The credit meter is ticking… Poor Asu, she’s worried that the credit may finish in no time. Ginko is so inconsiderate. So long guest. By the time Ginko is done and Kyo calls Asu, the handphone is out of battery and their conversation is cut off halfway. Because of that, they worry what has happened to each other. Asu worries Kyo may have fallen ill from overworking while Kyo fears that Asu may have been kidnapped! A lot of near misses as they try to search for each other. It is night time when the duo finally manages to reunite. Though they felt relieved, Asu then tells Kyo about her evening papers delivery. Kyo is in a frantic and rushes off. The next morning, Kyo uses the handphone to call Asu to thank her about the wonderful breakfast (previously she always forgot to tell her after leaving the house as Kyo was too tired from her delivery rounds). Well, a first decent conversation with the gadget as they think this is a present from their mom in heaven. But the end scene was ‘hilarious’. We see Kinko and Ginko at the lottery, trying her umpteenth time trying to win a pair of handphone set. Yeah, kiasu betul. Just like Ginko said, it would’ve been cheaper if they had just bought the handphone the normal way. Kinko has no luck with the lottery, huh? Yeah, she tells Ginko to go shop some more and bring back more lottery vouchers. Kiasu…
 
Episode 10 has Kyo falling sick because of overworking. Due to that, Asu nurses Kyo back to her usual strength. Once Kyo has recovered, she goes back to her usual try-her-best-all-for-Asu mode. But one evening after her delivery, Kyo comes back to find her room dark. To her horror, she finds Asu collapsed on the floor! In short, it’s Asu’s turn to fall ill. But hers is more serious. Kyo starts to panic but luckily Genzou is there and calls the ambulance. Asu will be hospitalized for a while and Kyo feels guilty and starts to think that she is useless. Kyo remembers a time when she was young and her late mom was pregnant with Asu. Her mom tells her to protect her soon-to-be sister. As Asu recuperates in hospital, Kyo starts to feel even more useless because she was kinda klutzy in breaking plates while trying to do housework in place of Asu. Oh Kyo, be strong, hang in there. Though the apples Kyo cut for Asu isn’t as tasty, Asu is still supportive of her sister’s efforts. We also see Genzou visiting Asu and would take Kyo’s place of accompanying Asu as he thinks she should be off to school and got it covered for her. See, he’s not as cold as you think he is. Even Ichinokura pays a visit and plays his guitar to cheer Asu up. Not to mention Ranko and Ginko too. Even if Asu is feeling better, inside Kyo’s heart she’s not. She’s still feeling guilty of not being able to keep her mom’s promise of protecting Asu.
 
If you’re wondering about the dandelions in the opening credits and title screen, here is how it’s related. On the way home, Kyo passes by a field of dandelions and remembers the time when her mom was hospitalized. She thought how her mom always smiled when she brought the flowers to her. Back in present time, Kyo felt herself being hugged by Asu and whispers from the latter that nobody could replace a sister like her (at that time, I’m thinking, Asu’s not dead, right?). Kyo then realized things and rushes back to the hospital. Since visiting hours are over, Kyo makes a light signal from outside the window to attract Asu’s attention. Kyo throws a dandelion at Asu and the latter sees several paper on the ground written "Goodnight Asu. Get well soon!". Both sisters felt very happy. The next day, Asu has been discharged. On the way home, the sisters passed by the dandelion field and Asu tells Kyo that before she was born she remembers hearing her mom’s voice to protect Kyo. Well, she didn’t exactly remember that but at that time felt something close to that. So I see that it’s both the sisters’ promise to protect each other which keeps them going strong. As they walk back hand in hand, they reassure their mom that they’re keeping their promises. So back in their lovely run-down apartment, the sisters are enjoying the sakura tree in full bloom and notes how happy they are together. But the next day, they are a little panicky because their entire room is now filled with sakura petals. Oh well, better start cleaning up.
 
Though it doesn’t feel much of an ending, but I guess I could say I’m satisfied with the series in overall. Most of the times it really did stir a heart warming emotion inside me. I think I’ve lost count the number of times going "Aww…". Though the drawing and animation isn’t one of the best, but I kinda noticed that the girls here have quite an obvious pink blush on their cheeks. Sometimes I can’t help but stare at it. I like the slow rock opening theme song, Shinkokyuu by Splash Candy, especially the tune of the electric guitar. If you notice, the opening credits animation also shows all the side characters in the series. However, there is one which still bugs me. The furry dog. If my memory serves me well, I don’t recall it ever appearing in the series. The ending theme, Soyokaze Life, by Kanako Sakai is more of a slow pop but it doesn’t sound appealing to me.
 
Another nice thing about this anime is the mid-intermission. With a short and cute background music playing and a chibi sketch of the poor sisters, the mid-intermission has short notes from the viewpoints of the poor sisters. Some are quite heart warming to read and some are quite comical. So I’ve took the liberty to list them down as below:
 
– The Yamada family’s slightly luxurious dandelion coffee.
– Bargain sale, such a gorgeous sight.
– If you put something in between the bread crusts, it’s a sandwich.
– If we pay the rent for this month, it’s going to be tight.
– Keeping an eye out for even a 1 Yen discount, Asu moves at full speed.
– Even raindrops leaking from the roof is a soothing orchestra.
– Adding up the items on the grocery lists, helps improve our maths.
– Gather together a lot of little soap shavings and wash a big back.
– Bean sprouts for breakfast, bean sprouts for lunch, bean sprouts for dinner.
– When you over-boil noodles and they stretch out, you get more servings of noodles.
– On a cold night, if you eat shichimi, it’ll warm you up.
– The flea market is like an enormous shopping mall to us.
– The next town over. If it’s for the sake of meat, it’s not far.
– Walk the 2 stations instead of taking the train, and buy meat with the money you save!
– A dictionary of plant life: Rotely memorized and organized food items.
– During a stroll, the keen-eyed can find edible grasses.
– There’s only one aim! Shop is on the verge of closing. Feast of sales!
– Today, magnificently, there are 3 side dishes.
– Hunger is the world’s best seasoning. If we’re a little more patient, it’ll be so much more delicious.
– Time! Return to us! Slipping past the expiration date into uncertainty.
 
Aren’t they so true in life too? Another thing I want to mention is the title of the episodes. Each of the episodes are named as and starts off with "A Day Of ~" and will have 3 topics or happenings in it. The topics or happenings give a general idea of what that particular episode is about. For instance episode 1’s "A Day Of Yukata, Fireworks And Candy Apples" or episode 7’s "A Day Of Jealousy, Chocolates And Valentine". So by just reading the title, you can recall what happened in that particular episode unlike some animes which have titles so long, short or so ridiculous that it seems the title is there just for fun with no relation to that episode or whatsoever. I guess part of the ‘poor’ theme is to keep things short and simple, huh?
 
Speaking of the characters, though I feel that the other side characters didn’t really play a prominent role in the sense that they have a major impact on the series, this is because the series focuses more on the poor sisters (duh!). It still amazes after all that they’ve gone through, they’re still strongly bonded together like glue and I hope that they will continue to live this way forever. How many of us could have such wonderful relationships with our siblings? Probably because they are deprived of many things, which allows them to do so, but I feel that is actually a blessing in disguise for them. Yeah, I like how Kyo and Asu sound so lively most of the time and look forward to most things in a positive way. We could all learn several important life lessons from them.
 
On a trivial note, I found out that Kyo and Asu’s name literally means today and tomorrow respectively. Perhaps it is to indicate to viewers to live today to the fullest and to look forward to tomorrow with hope. I’m wondering if their mom did live on and bore a third child, would she name him/her Kinou (yesterday)? Nah. Just kidding. Don’t live your life in the past. Likewise, Kinko and Ginko’s name means gold child and silver child respectively. So if they had a third sibling…
 
So are you still thinking that being poor is a sin? Not if you have what it takes to live your life happy. And it doesn’t necessary have to be complicated and complex things. Just the simple things in life would do. Hmm… But looking at the bigger picture in real life, I don’t think it’s working. Anyway, just like another hidden message in this series is to be nice, caring and good not only to those people you love or close to you, but others who are around you as well. And from that perspective, you are rich in terms of relationship, just like Kyo and Asu. So I guess it’s high time I do the same too with my own family.
 

Binbou Shimai Monogatari