This story is a simple illustration of the three sisters of the Minami household. Please do not expect too much out of it.
Take an Onee-sama, a hopelessly Genki Girl, and a Little Miss Snarker, make them sisters, and put them all under one roof. That's Minami-ke. The show is a Slice of Life comedy which blends the High School, Middle School, and Elementary School subgenres by having each of the three sisters attend one of these. The fourth storyline is about interactions of the three and their friends at home.The Minami sisters:
Haruka. An Ordinary High School Student, with highly developed cooking and housekeeping skills. Very good at school and adored by both Kana and Chiaki (and not only them). Also a legendary delinquent, but that's somewhat in the past.
Based on a manga series by Koharu Sakuraba, the show follows the footsteps of Azumanga Daioh, Lucky Star, and other Slice of Life works and emphasizes the absurdity of what's happening on-screen. Don't expect much realism or drama. Do expect a lot of eccentric characters that play off each other and just a plain lot of fun. The second season sequel, Minami-ke Okawari started airing in January 2008 and was produced by a different company (Asread, instead of Daume). It mostly consists of original material not covered in the manga and contains much more Fanservice, which might be the reason that the viewing public generally regards it as far inferior to the first season.A third season called Minami-ke Okaeri aired in early 2009, returning closer in style to the first season, and being met with good reception in turn. A short bonus episode, Minami-ke Betsubara, was also released in 2009.A fourth season, Minami-ke Tadaima, this time animated by feel., aired in the Winter 2012 Anime season (simulcast by FUNimation), and returns even more to the first season's roots, down to having a similarly-styled opening song and animation. It even brought back the iconic starting spiel that you can see at the top of this very entry. Two OVAs, named Minami-ke Omatase, were also released, with the first one being a Halloween Episode and the second one mostly Fanservice.The show has a character sheet.
Minami-ke provides examples of the following tropes:
Adult Fear: Otherwise incredibly lighthearted, an example is found in the last episode when they find what appears to be Kana's suicide note.
All Love Is Unrequited: Hosaka gets a "bad luck" fortune 108 times on New Year's and still doesn't take it as a sign to give up on his quest for Haruka. Also Fujioka, who probably should listen to his evil angel and give up his quest for Kana.
Aloof Big Brother: Touma has three of them, though the degree of their aloofness varies.
Art Shift: Frequent closeups in which characters' faces gain considerable detail. "Bible Black faces", as the image boards call them.
Bifauxnen: Touma Minami; comes with a large share of "swooning confused females" (and possibly some "outright Schoolgirl Lesbians", too), as evident from episode 7 of Okawari. Given that she wears the female school uniform, there is really not much room for doubt.
Brainwashed: In episode 8 of season 4, several characters begin to have a fondness for vegetables thanks to a new tv show. Chiaki and Kana check it out, with the former thinking it's just some random show pandering to the simple-minded. After the show is over, Chiaki develops Mind-Control Eyes, and has a sudden urge to eat vegetables despite normally hating them. Several other characters are afflicted by this as well, such as Hosaka, who tries to force Hayami to eat some. Interestingly, while Kana watched the show, she wasn't affected by it the same way. Chiaki and Hosaka break out of this when they eat some sausages the grocery store is giving out as samples, but not before breaking into a song and dance sequence.
Breakout Character: Hosaka; initially Sakuraba didn't seem very fond of him, and it didn't seem that he would use Hosaka for much time, but then the animated adaptation happened and gave him expanded events and humor, and with this the seemingly unimportant character took off. Ever since, Sakuraba has made Hosaka's moments in the manga as proiminent as in the anime, to the point newer seasons don't need to expand anything; just adapt panel by panel and you have enough of Hosaka for all. Also Hosaka is usually seen in newer back-covers from the manga, even if he doesn't appear much in the volume at all.
Brown Note / Nosebleed: Natsuki tends to collapse headfirst on the nearest surface with blood spewing out of his schnozz whenever he accidentally lets his mind wander to Haruka's cleavage. This is partly due to an incident that started with an overenthusiastic shove from Maki and ended with him getting punched in the face by Haruka for the sake of appearances.
Cassandra Truth: In episode 10 of the first season, Mako-chan tells Haruka and Chiaki that he's a male. However, because of the way he blurts it out, they don't believe him, and think he's just acting out like Touma, a genuine girl pretending to be a boy.
Cat Smile: The sisters' default expression, particularly Kana.
In season 3, virtually every character has this.
Chaos Architecture: Between season 1 and Okawari. The most noticeable bit about this is the addition of a dining table, and their kitchen is now a counter across said dining table (when in the previous season, the kitchen was outside the living room). Also, Chihaki and Kana no longer have separate rooms.
Chiaki: I tried to make chocolate from chocolate. Mako: This is chocolate from chocolate, right? Chiaki: Pretty good chocolate, no?
This is mostly a mistake in the translator's part. Chiaki actually said, "I tried making Chocolat de chocolat (a multi-layered chocolate cake)". Mako then butchers the name as "sokora de kokora".
Comically Missing the Point: Happens to Kana a lot. In one instance, during episode 5 of season 3, she talks about going to a pool other than their school's. She invites Riko and Keiko, while Fujioka overhears it nearby. For whatever reason, neither Riko nor Fujioka seem to want to invite the other outright, so they talk out loud about how they want to go to the pool with others to try and clue Kana in on their intentions. Kana then thinks they were just interested in the school's pool, and decides she'll just go with her sister's friends instead.
Companion Cube: Yamada, a small rock Chiaki was kicking around. The fans appear to have latched onto him. The trope also applies to Fujioka, Chiaki's teddy bear, to an extent.
Cry Cute: Chiaki and Kana in episode 13 of season 2, when they beg Haruka not to go overseas to study abroad. Fortunately for them, she wasn't planning on going despite what Maki told them earlier.
Decision Darts: This is how Kana decides what to do during the summer vacation. She and Chiaki end up fighting over what activities should be in which fields and what size they should have.
Deep-Immersion Gaming: A short one takes place during episode 9 of season 2 with a game Kana is playing. It shows an outer space battle, and a ship captain mentioning launching a mecha before Kana is interrupted.
Demoted to Extra: The Minami brothers, whom the audience had grown attached to by the end of the first season, vanished entirely in the second. Thankfully, they return in Okaeri and Tadaima.
Determinator: Hosaka will not give up on his affection for Haruka, going so far as to master cooking to make her happy. In the final episode of season one he takes to making buckwheat noodles, and at the end he takes a case of his cooking and climbs to the top of a snowy mountain.
Downer Ending: In-universe example. In episode 4 of the first season, Chiaki and Kana play a game based on The Teacher and Ninomiya, with the loser having to go out in the rain to buy snacks at the convenience store. At first it seems to be a standard fighting game, with Kana playing Ninomiya and Chiaki as the teacher. The latter soundly defeats the former, but then a cutscene plays with the teacher screaming her name as she "dies", utterly confusing both girls as to what just happened, as well as who won. The same scene plays out multiple times in different genres of that game, and both girls forget the original reason for playing it in the first place, and simply try to defeat the other, while trying to figure out exactly how the game is supposed to be played.
Driven to Suicide: Chiaki and Haruka thought this of Kana at the end of Okaeri, after she leaves behind what looks like a suicide note. They were wrong, obviously.
Ear Worm: In-Universe, Chiaki hears Hosaka's song about curry and Chiaki ends up singing it herself a few times.
Evil Laugh: Hosaka in the last episode of season 1. The whole scene on the cliff reminded this editor of the good ol' shows where the villain is shown madly laughing until the credits roll in a Cliff Hanger-esque ending... Perhaps, an intended mockery. And he goes at it again in the end of the second season. And it returns with the last scene of the first episode of the third season — but then again, his plans for Haruka are kinda creepy... Hosaka's laugh even makes it into his Image Song.
Evolving Credits: The scenery that Kana walks through in the ending for season 2 changes gradually as the season goes on.
Fake Ultimate Hero: Haruka, maybe. It's implied that her Legendary Banchou reputation is mostly the result of exaggerated rumors. Of course, it's also been implied that at least half of those rumors are true.
Fan Nickname: At several points in the show, Kana sports a T-shirt with "I AM BOSS" on the front. Considering this and her energetic nature, her nickname naturally became Boss, or Bossu, for SHE IS BOSS.
Quite a bit, with skimpy sport outfits in the opening credits, a beach episode and Kana appearing shirtless (though retaining her bra) in the opening of episode six. The service reaches really silly levels in the second season, perhaps in an attempt to compensate for the lack of funny source material.
And the manga has plenty of Chiaki and Kana pantyshots as well.
The Betsubara OVA has a completely random Chiaki pantyshot for seemingly no real reason, though it's so zoomed out and undetailed it's almost incidental. Then the camera goes back to it. Three times.
Tadaima's first episode has some shots of Haruka with a loose school uniform while taking a nap and Kana lying under the kotatsu along with a change of clothes so that she would be warm when she gets up. The problem with Kana is that she forgot the change of clothes and is in her underwear when Haruka pulls her out.
Another from Tadaima — Kana's butt wiggle from episode 7.
Fanservice Pack: Kana becomes better endowed between the first and second season. Possibly justified, as she is still growing. She seems to have developed a nice rear end as of Tadaima.
Flanderization: Maki and Uchida's silliness. Also Natsuki, who started at the first season as a rather harsh and insensitive character, evolved by the third season to somewhat of a moronic, violent troglodyte.
The Glomp: Well, this wasn't Kana's intention, but in episode 11 of season 2, she tells Chiaki she wants to have a final showdown with Fujioka. The latter tells her a secret move to use on him if all else fails. The next day, Kana confronts Fujioka and asks him why he calls her sisters by their first name, but her by last name. She tells him to call her "Kana-chan", but he turns around and says he's too shy to do that. She then utilizes Chiaki's "secret move", which was probably supposed to be a German suplex, but is unable to lift him. And to Fujioka, he completely misinterprets the move as this trope.
Green-Eyed Monster: In episode 8 of season 3, Kana tries to teach Yoshino and Uchida about feigning weakness to attract a guy. They practice by pretending to not be able to open a can of soda. Although Uchida accidentally opens it, Yoshino manages not to. Maki, Atsuko, and Haruka later arrive, and Maki recalls a bad memory of that can trick failing miserably when she attempted it with a guy. They then make Atsuko do it, and she is completely unable to do it. However, she wasn't faking it, and really couldn't open it, causing Kana and Maki to hilariously accuse her of witchcraft with the level of helplessness she showed.
The Hecate Sisters: In terms of age it's Chiaki-Kana-Haruka, but in terms of personality, Kana is the maiden, Haruka is the mother, and Chiaki is the bitter crone.
Hoist By Her Own Petard: In episode 9, Kana forces Chiaki to stay up all night in an attempt to forcefully wake her up, much like the latter had done in an earlier scene. Chiaki gradually tells her sister why she's such an idiot, and says she'd write a ten thousand word essay, but doesn't have time for it. Both girls end up sleeping well into the afternoon after Kana kept forcing Chiaki to stay awake. A few days later, Chiaki wakes Kana up at night, and plops said essay down, and tells her to read it. When Kana attempts to go back to bed, Chiaki grabs her and drops her pants much in the same way Kana did to her in that earlier scene.
Love You and Everybody: Kana does this to Fujioka in episode 6 of Okaeri, although not for the usual reasons. She's just covering up an earlier remark of hers, amending "ah" to "I love you" before realizing that's just as bad in a different way.
Mind Screw: The very last ending for season 2 shows the usual Kana walking through various scenes. Then at the end when she stops, the camera pans away, and that scene we just looked at turns out to be a painting that another Kana just watched along with the viewers.
Never Live It Down: An in-universe example. Almost everyone regards Haruka as a delinquent gang leader. She wasn't.
No Social Skills: One has to wonder how the other Minamis raised their children when you look at Touma's brothers... Natsuki in particular is the crowning example.
Not Allowed to Grow Up: It's not really noticeable in the manga, but for those following the anime this is especially glaring. For example, at least three New Year's celebrations have been shown... and yet no-one has advanced a single year in each of their respective grades.
Oddly Named Sequel: From Minami-ke to Minami-ke Okawari ("Seconds") to Minami-ke Okaeri ("Welcome Home") to Minami-ke Tadaima ("We're Back")
Off Model: The character designs for Season 3 differ vastly from the first two seasons, to the point of invoking this trope at times. Thankfully they kept the same seiyuu/voice actors for each character.
There are no signs of parents. A conversation implies that the sisters' father is dead or long absent, and their mother is not mentioned at all.
This seems to go for Touma and her brothers too, but they get less screentime.
Pet the Dog: A rare one occurs in episode 10 of season 2. Usually Chiaki smacks Kana, or throws her teddy, when the latter does something upsetting to the former. But in this case, Chiaki was preparing to eat some instant noodles that she had bought with her own money. Kana then comes home dripping wet from the rain, having forgotten to bring an umbrella. Chiaki goes to prepare a bath for her, and when she comes back to the living room, Kana is eating her noodles. Instead of getting incredibly angry at her however, Chiaki simply tells Kana to get into the bath after she's done eating, while simultaneously sitting down by the table with a very sad look on her face. Kana then leaves, and brings back some more instant noodles, which she shares with Chiaki, and later Haruka.
Phrase Catcher: Hosaka, "Kimochi warui" (most commonly translated as "disgusting").
The Plan: In episode 13 of season 4, Kana tries to get people to go flower viewing with her, but is unable to convince anyone to go. Then she sees various characters spill secrets about others, and hatches a plan with it. She tells various characters separately about a secret viewing area, and asks them not to tell anyone else, knowing full well they're going to blurt it out to others. At first it doesn't seem to go well, as she ends up waiting alone for quite a while. But then everyone she told the secret to, and other people they've told, essentially the entire cast minus Hosaka, because Hayami couldn't be bothered to tell him, ends up going there.
Please Don't Leave Me: In episode 13 of season 2, after hearing from Maki that Haruka was going overseas to study abroad, Chiaki and Kana both attempt to cook and clean their apartment without their sister's help so that they could send her off with a smile. Although they do a fairly good job at it, Chiaki starts to break down in tears and begs Haruka not to leave, followed shortly by Kana. Much to their surprise, Haruka tells them she's not going.
Promotion to Parent: Haruka, taken to a ridiculous degree, where she's also like a parent to the other Minami family.
Public Domain Soundtrack: Whenever Hosaka gets over-dramatic, an arrangement of the first movement of Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings in C major Op. 48 can be heard in the background.
Rated M for Manly: While Hosaka is an apparent bishie, it's safe to say that his male fans are more outspoken to glorify his usual quirks and fantasies, which to them are the distilled display of fabulous manliness.
Rubber Face: A few characters are subjected to this, such as Makoto and Chiaki.
When people discuss things about Touma, she's often lying around within earshot. This is lampshaded when Natsuki asks Haruka to tell Touma something.
Selective Obliviousness: Characters often act as if they do not hear the conversation that is taking place right next to them (i.e. Touma to her brothers' talking about her). Taken to extremes with Chiaki not seeming to notice anything that would give away Mako's disguise... although perhaps she's only feigning obliviousness.
Ship Tease: Sakuraba likes to portray Hosaka, Fujioka, and Makoto as Spear Counterparts and Opposites Attract of Haruka, Kana, and Chiaki respectively in promotional art he makes, although in the manga proper those three are quite far from being romantically involved, and Hosaka and Haruka in particular barely know each other; surprisingly enough, Touma's brothers, who are generally accepted to be the real Spear Counterpart for the Minami sisters, get no such service from Sakuraba, they are in none of the promotional material.
Shirtless Scene: Hosaka. He needs no reason to actually do it. He's gone shirtless in school, as a chef, with a fish...
Shout-Out: In the second episode of the OVA Omatase, Hosaka is ordering food at a WcDonalds. The two cashiers behind the register look a lot like Chiho and Maou from Hataraku Maou Sama.
Show Within a Show / Soap Within a Show: The Teacher and Ninomiya. Apparently also an in-universe Cash Cow Franchise, as well, since the Teacher and Ninomiya also star in their very own multi-genre video game (spoofing a lot of familiar titles from video game history) as well as their very own magic show.
Kana gets sick in episode 9 of the first season. Chiaki keeps her company and watches over her, and tries to cheer her up. Chiaki herself gets sick later on, probably having caught whatever was making Kana sick.
Kana again in episode 11 of season 2. At first she was faking it to get out of the neighborhood cleaning that day, which Chiaki immediately suspects. But then she really gets sick the next day. Which was also the day the sisters were supposed to go shopping for clothes, and later go to an all you can eat rib restaurant. Kana tries various things to get better, but feels even worse by the time Haruka and Chiaki get home from shopping.
Strange Minds Think Alike: Chiaki refers to Hosaka as the curry fairy. Later, Hayami tells Hosaka that he could become the curry fairy. Chiaki meets Hosaka again in the eighth episode of Tadaima while both of them are shopping for vegetables.
Sustained Misunderstanding: This show runs on it. Often one character will say something, another will misinterpret it, and then spread the misinterpretation around, such as Hosaka believing Kana and Chiaki to be Haruka's daughters, rather than her sisters.
Temporal Theme Naming: Doubled up — the Minami sisters have Haruka (spring), Kana (summer), and Chiaki (autumn), while the other Minami family has Natsuki (summer), Akira (autumn), Touma (winter)... and the oldest brother, whose name is never mentioned until the seventh volume, which established that his name is Haruo (spring). Okawari runs with this again in the case of Fuyuki (winter).
Thanks for the Mammary: Natsuki is pushed into Haruka. She knows it was accidental and doesn't hold it against him, but still has to sock him one for the sake of appearances.
Those Two Guys: Each of the sisters has a pair of Those Two Girls in their respective schools.
Tsundere: Harsh and abusive Chiaki sometimes is shown as a surprisingly loving sister to Kana, the main (and usually not innocent) subject of said abuse. She also acts in a tsundere-ish way towards Makoto, though definitely most of the "deredere" treatment gets received by his alter ego, Mako.
Wham Episode: Two incidents in episode 12 of season 2. The first, a minor one, is that Fuyuki, the boy that lived next door to the Minami sisters for that season, moves away unceremoniously. A bigger one that impacts the other sisters is the revelation that Haruka is going overseas to study abroad.
Touma also fits the mold, perhaps most obviously when the other girls dress her up in Makoto's male kimono. She tries to act "manly" by posing with it off-shoulder. The others are visibly disturbed, for obvious reasons. Kana even comments on Touma's lack of shame in exposing her chest.
In the second season, however, there have been hints that Makoto is enjoying this situation. That twisted grin when he found the bondage outfit didn't help matters. Nor does the fact that he carried a purse to a sleepover, or wore a French Maid outfit (complete with knee-high socks and makeup) to his school's cultural festival. By the third season, he doesn't even think twice about dressing up in Haruka's old outfit to help increase his supposedly-nonexistent bust size (it was Chiaki`s idea, though).
Come Tadaima, Makoto's crossdressing situation has accumulated so much inertia that Kana's count of his protests to stop has reached more than fifty already.
Zettai Ryouiki: The girls in Chiaki's grade school seem to have this as part of the uniform.