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Listen to Me, Girls! I'm Your Father! (Papa no Iukoto wo Kikinasai!) PDF Print E-mail
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Friday, 06 April 2012 10:25

I can't help but read the title for this one in a Darth Vader voice. Now there's a Star Wars spinoff that someone should make (not really). College student Yuuta's about to find himself thrust into fatherhood, when the apparent death of his big sisters leaves him caring for her three kids. Which isn't going to be easy - on any of them...

Yuuta Segawa, a college student, is making the most of college life - he has his own apartment, a large collection of porn, and he's somehow found himself in some sort of relationship (not a romantic one - yet) with Raiko Oda, possibly the strangest girl on campus. But she's cute and has a huge chest, so that's okay. His carefree life, though, is about to be turned upside down by his sister Yuri who, on leaving for an overseas trip with her husband, leaves their three young daughters in his care while they're gone. For a short trip, that might be okay - but when the flight Yuri and her husband were travelling on crashes, with the apparent loss of all on board, Yuuta finds himself with permanent care of the kids.

Now, to be fair, he did have the option of letting other family members look after the girls - but that would have involved splitting them up. This is something that strikes a particular chord with Yuuta: when he had Yuri were younger, they had also both lost their parents. When faced with being split up and placed with other family members, Yuri stood up and decided they'd look after themselves, thank-you (she was just old enough to take on responsibility to Yuuta then) - and, inspired by Yuri's actions then, Yuuta makes a similar choice now. Never mind that only one of the girls, 3-year-old bundle of adorableness Hina, is actually related to him (the other two girls are from their father's previous marriages).

Got all that? Good. So, a single guy takes three young kids back to his single-room student apartment, and tries to get on with normal life. Suffice to say, it does not prove simple - there's an awful lot involved with bringing up the girls that Yuuta had never considered, and it all lands on him like a ton of bricks. The family are unsure of his ability to do this, and keep on his back about it; his tenancy is only for one person, and he soon finds himself on the wrong end of an eviction notice; the girls need privacy, which is hard to get in a one-room apartment; there are schools for the girls to consider; and what about the cost of keeping them all, on one student's part-time earnings? What's a guy to do..?

Probably worth pointing out here that this is actually a comedy, although you maybe wouldn't have guessed it from that description. As well as the usual mishaps that you usually get when you put a guy in close proximity to a girl, Raika and the other members of his college "Sightseeing Society" (where "sightseeing" seems to equal "eyeing up members of the opposite sex") are on hand to help or hinder. Raika may be strange, but she's a fountain of common sense, becomes something of an anchor for Yuuta, and develops a particular attachment to eldest girl Sora. Nimura is perhaps the most normal member of the cast, and helps middle girl Miu adjust to her new life. Shuntaro, on the other hand, is a complete lolicon pervert, just the sort of person you should be keeping away from the girls - to him, 14-year-old Sora is an "old hag", while Hina is almost his ideal girl. Creepy to the max.

And this is perhaps where the series goes a little wrong. On the one hand, it's telling a really good story about a family that's unexpectedly hit disaster but who, with the help of Yuuta and his friends, is pulling together and trying to make the best of a bad situation. When it sticks to this, Listen to Me! is actually pretty good, and delivers some real moments that pull on the heartstrings - watch Sora trying to explain to Hina that her parents aren't coming back, and tell me it doesn't get some sort of reaction out of you. Yuuta's reasons for wanting to take care of the girls are also well-grounded and believable - he's being naive, sure, but he's still trying to do the right thing, and genuinely cares for the girls. The doubts of the other family members that he's capable of doing all this are completely understandable.

But it just can't resist throwing the fanservice & the creepy dude in there. It's supposed to also be in the name of "comedy", but it just doesn't work that way. Shuntaro is particular is a noticeable drag on the series, and just made me cringe every time he appeared. There's also a sub-plot about Sora having 'inappropriate' feelings for Yuuta, going back to a time when he'd been nice to her a few years earlier (just as well they're not blood-related, hey?). These feel out-of-place in what is otherwise quite a touching story - a cut-and-dried case of a show where the fanservice actively reduced the appeal of the series to me. I'd say look at Usagi Drop for how to do this sort of thing right, but then I remember that the manga went off is some rather stupid directions as well (the anime fortunately didn't get that far).

After all that, I can only really give it a recommendation with reservations. Drop the fanservice, give us more of Raika and wannabe-seiyuu Kurumi, and it'd be great - but there are too many little things here and there, and one or two big things, that left me uncomfortable enough about certain aspects of it to take some of the shine off all the things that the series did right. Something to bear in mind if you decide to give it a look.

Rating - ***