Feburary, the month where we celebrate love in all forms. At the end of this leap month, let us take a leap of faith, and extend the loving to one of anime’s favourite relationship tropes – the man-to-man, boy-to-boy brotherly love – the “Bro-mance”.
In our second feature celebrating bro-mance, we bring you examples celebrating brotherhood in anime, as we explore various aspects of brotherly love. Join us as we rate these anime brothers with our trusty Bro-meter!
1. Fullmetal Alchemist: Edward Elric & Alphonse Elric
We look nothing alike, but our hearts are one.
Nothing speaks deeper for brotherly love when faced with this pair of real brothers. After a failed attempt to retrieve their mother from death, the brothers’ quest to recover Edward’s lost limbs and Alphonse’s body throws them into the midst of a greater conspiracy. This inseparable pair stood by each other throughout, and moved audiences with how both were willing to sacrifice anything in order to keep each other safe.
Bro-love meter: 9/10
An arm and a leg to bring my brother back!
Bro-angst meter: 5/10
Other than the occasional squabble or brotherly argument, these brothers hardly show angst.
REAL-bro meter: +2 brownie points for being REAL brothers.
2. Kuroko’s Basketball: The Generation of Miracles and their basketball “wives”
Best partner you complete me.
After the legendary Generation of Miracles (MiraGen) of Teiko Middle School’s basketball broke up, each of their members entered basketball teams in their respective high schools. Like any respectable sports anime, each of the iconic MiraGen members have found themselves (at least) a new best bud in each of their new teams. Kuroko and his new “light” Kagami, Kise and his captain Kasamatsu, Midorima and his designated “chauffeur” Takao, and Murasakibara and his life coach Himuro are certainly clear examples. Given Aomine’s narcissism, it is unlikely he could find anyone good enough for him, but captain Imayoshi and childhood friend Momoi come close as his handlers.
Bro-love meter: 3/10
Occasionally show some love with a not-so-frequent Ignite Pass.
Bro-angst meter: 3/10
Sometimes healthy competition can “almost” lead to emotional breakdowns, but no lives are on the line.
3. Star-Myu: Itsuki Otori & Tsubasa Hiiragi
So makjang it hurts.
As student mentors of two star musical teams, the pair could not appear any more different from each other. Otori is the free spirit with his own ideals for musical creativity, while Hiiragi is presents as a traditionalist, with his penchant for keeping to the classics. Immediately you could see much potential for conflict, with circumstances within the school often pitting their respective star teams directly against each other.
Just when you think they were rivals with completely no common ground between them, the plot reveals that Otori and Hiiragi are real brothers born to the same set of parents. They spent much of their childhood together, but were separated when Hiiragi was adopted into another family (it’s complicated. The bro-angst meter shot through the roof when it was revealed that Hiiragi has been working behind the scenes protecting Otori’s team from “nefarious forces”.
Bro-love meter: 7/10
Nothing spells true bro-love like secreting protecting your bro from behind the scenes.
Bro-angst meter: 9/10
All that rivalry and tension at having to keep their brotherly ties hidden has congealed into a cloud of bro-angst enough to suffocate anyone who dares come near.
REAL-bro meter: +2 brownie points for being REAL brothers
You can also watch them perform true bro-angst in musical soap opera style:
4. Seraph of the End: Yuuichiro Hyakuya & Mikaela Hyakuya
R&J: Fighting desperately to save the other from themselves.
Growing up together in the Hyakuya Orphanage, both Yuuichiro (Yuu-chan) and Mikaela (Mika) were once part of a ragtag family formed with other orphans, scraping by to survive in world controlled by vampires. However, cue dramatic music fate tore them apart, when their escape attempt from the vampires’ captivity goes awry, resulting in deaths to the rest of their “family”. Yuu escapes with barely his life, after being forced to abandon a dying Mika behind.
Mika is turned into a baby vampire, and subsequently finds out about how he and Yuu-chan were part of human experiments driven by the human military. Yuu-chan later finds out about Mika being turned, and now wants to rescue Mika from the vampires, while Mika fights to take Yuu-chan away from his human manipulators, and away from enslavement from the vampires. Their few reunions are often characterised by various versions of the hime-dako (princess-carry), because “he ain’t heavy, he’s my brother”. Tragedy strikes again when combat leaves Mika badly wounded, and despite Mika’s vehement refusals, Yuu-chan insists on feeding Mika his blood to save his life. The act of drinking Yuu-chan’s human blood seals his complete transformation into a full vampire, after such a long period of abstinence to preserve his humanity.
Bro-love meter: 8/10
Almost family comes close to real family.
Bro-angst meter: 12/10
When you stick your sword through your bro, and your bro drinks your blood. (extra points for blood offering)
5. Osomatsu-san: The Matsuno Sextuplets
There can actually be too much of a good thing.
Why have a one brother when you can have six times the fun! (and pain!). The recent commemorative anime adaptation follows the brothers into adult NEET-hood and developing more colourful personalities. There is eldest but immature Osomatsu, cooler-than-thou Karamatsu, tsukkomi Choromatsu, deadpan Ichimatsu, out-of-this-world Jyuushimatsu, and finally, the youngest “Totty” Todomatsu. Nothing spells real brotherhood like the uncanny ability to know when big brother is coming home with a pachinko windfall ready to be robbed, bonding over oden or fawning over neighbourhood sweetheart Totoko together. It also takes real family to completely ruin Todomatsu’s social life by turning up at your workplace, and using a mind-reading cat to suss out Ichimatsu’s true feelings.
Bro-love meter: 6/10
They show each other that they care (sometimes) – except maybe when it is Karamatsu.
Bro-angst meter: 4/10
Their pranks get pretty elaborate, but don’t fall far from everyday life.
REAL-bro meter: +6 brownie points for being REAL brothers