A Sister’s All You Need does absolutely everything in its power to deter you from giving it an honest shot. The title may as well read Life Chronicles Of a Siscon, and the official series description (which, by the way, has numerous errors in it) makes it sound like the second coming of the notoriously terrible Eromanga Sensei. Even if one were to make it past those two obstacles, there’s still the issue of what might quite possibly be the most painful and cringe-worthy opening two minutes for an anime series of all time.
Yet despite all that, A Sister’s All You Need has genuine worth buried beneath its hellscape of an exterior, and it’s a right shame so many anime fans will most likely pass it by.
Step Away From the Back Button
Contrary to what the title and plot description may lead you to believe, there isn’t an obvious little sister character in A Sister’s All You Need. Light novel author and protagonist, Itsuki Hashima, certainly has an obsession with the little sister character type. His fervor is so strong that he refuses to write a story that doesn’t include a little sister as the focal point, but the focal point of the show itself they are not. Itsuki never misses a chance to preach about the peculiar archetype, which would get obnoxious fast if the rest of the cast wasn’t so strong.
Itsuki’s friend and fellow novelist, Haruto, is snarky, witty, and serves as the perfect foil to reel in Itsuki’s delusions when he goes too far off the rails. Nayuta is a young and spunky, up-and-coming author who always seems to be bouncing off the wall in one way or another. Meanwhile, Miyako is the exception of the group; a regular college student who also acts as the voice of reason to a group of eclectic individuals with sometimes overactive imaginations. More characters come and go as the show moves on, but it’s very clear the focus is placed on this core four.
When it comes down to it, A Sister’s All You Need is a simple comedy slice-of-life that depicts the everyday lives of this group of friends and artists. Episodes usually revolve around the gang hanging out in Itsuki’s apartment while having some beers and playing a board/card game of some sort. Every so often they may also spontaneously go on an outing as “research” for their next novel.
The light-hearted atmosphere created by the group’s many verbal jabs and frequent sarcasm is as delightful to watch as it is relatable for anyone with similar friend circles. Their extra years of maturity as working adults manifest in their goals and aspirations feeling much more real and tangible than the standard hot-blooded, high school anime protagonist’s. On top of that, the way each character navigates, and copes with, his or her romantic feelings for another is refreshingly open and honest, yet not overly apparent (with the exception of the rabble-rousing Nayuta).
What cements these moments as truly heart-warming, however, is how the show makes them feel earned.
The Past Defines But Does Not Rule
Throughout the story, A Sister’s All You Need gives tiny glimpses of what life was like for Itsuki and the others before coming together the way they did. Rarely, though, does it present this through full-blown flashbacks. Instead, the past is conveyed in more subtle ways, such as a self-deprecating remark from Haruto, or a wistful look on Miyako’s face upon a certain sight. Even when the show does resort to flashbacks, they never overstay their welcome, lasting only a minute or two and often ending before the most important parts are shown. This leaves the viewer to fill in the blanks.
When those blanks are filled you come to the realization that these people went through, and overcame, a lot of shit together; so much so that an entire drama prequel could probably be made of it. Dwelling on the past would only detract from the present day shenanigans, though, and the show knows this.
These snippets of the past are woven into the story in such a way as to give weight to the present day jolliness. The atmosphere Itsuki and his friends create when they hang out is so comforting because it’s clear that there are no barriers between them, and there are no barriers because they have already been torn down. Itsuki, in particular, shows a remarkable degree of sensitivity to those he’s grown close to, and demonstrates his care for others in clever ways entirely unique to himself.
It’s hard not to feel the warm and fuzzies while watching the gang play a Dungeons & Dragons campaign, or tag-team to conjure some ridiculous story on the spot. At the risk of sounding too cliché, there is only one way to describe this collection of colorful individuals. That is “true friends”, and for an anime to accomplish that to such a degree is rarer than one might expect, despite friendship being the central theme of other shows so often.
What Really Counts
Absolutely no one can be faulted for giving A Sister’s All You Need a pass at first glance. The title and description sound downright creepy and even while watching, it can be easy to get distracted by the flippant fanservice and write it off as “just another one of those shows”.
If you can look past that, though, and see what the show is really about then you will find the story of a group of friends who seem so real that it feels like you’re right there next to them hanging out. There’s even an episode about the dread of having to file tax returns; it doesn’t get much more real than that!
In all likelihood, this series is ill-fated to a life of obscurity, overshadowed by the countless other anime out there that don’t give a terrible first impression. That doesn’t change the fact, however, that A Sister’s All You Need is indeed a quality title. It’s uplifting, humorous, and satisfying, and is a series that deserves to be given more attention.
(You can watch A Sister’s All You Need on Crunchyroll.)