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The Sibling Complex - O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Alex Papillon   August 4, 2007

I realize there are quite a few manga and anime titles with questionable sibling complexes, not necessarily incestuous in nature - but just…a bit “complex”. If you think this is weird, know that there are various western movies about this topic and that it IS a psychological phenomenon that occurs in real life so there’s no sense hiding from media that contain it. Try, Bertolucci’s The Dreamers or even Gladiator. Also refer to Fitzgerald’s book “Tender is the night” and dude, do I even need to mention Luke and Leia’s apparent attraction in Star Wars? Then there’s the myth of King Arthur, in which case he and his half-sister have a child together (well…she tricked him [in some versions]). Not to mention, in ancient Egypt, incest between siblings were common for the sake of royal preservation. Even in Greek mythology for example, the Olympians (Zeus, Hera, etc) were all siblings and had various children among each other. In most fiction, it is sometimes symbolic or a literary device but some semi-fictional biographies have been written by victims. Plus, seeing its apparent flourish in Japanese culture, people are obviously repulsed but fascinated. Grotesque, yes but also interesting to some.

So here’s a list of some that I’m aware of, I’m certain I’m forgetting quite a few so feel free to remind me! And for the majority of these works (that I listed, not in general), the incestuous slant isn’t for smut or pornographic reasons (obviously) but are semi-vital to the story in various ways. Oh, and on the record — this article may contain content that may offend some people so don’t read it if you are uncomfortable with the theme of incest. It may contain possible spoilers that reveal the plot or plot turns.

I’ve sort of grouped them approximately.

Confirmed/Apparent:

Angel Sanctuary
Angel Sanctuary
This is a relatively popular 20 volume manga by one of my favourite mangaka, Kaori Yuki. Her artwork is amazing and her stories are just twisted (refer to Count Cain or Godchild) and oddly violent. I haven’t actually finished reading any of her work, which I plan to but there is the inherent incestuous attraction between Setsuna Mudou and his sister Sara. If I remember right, both of them acknowledge this and try to deal with it, etc.

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Fushigi Yuugi (The Mysterious Play)
Fortunately, or unfortunately I’m not sure which…I never got into Watase Yuu’s work. I’ve only see Ayashi no ceres the anime version and that’s pretty much it. I am aware of the incestuous (outright?) thing between Ren and his sister Misu. Since I don’t know the story, I can’t comment more.

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Shoujo Kakumei Utena (Revolutionary Girl Utena)
This is actually one of my favourite series hands down because of it’s post-modernist perfection AND some wacky characters. More than wacky…each character in this series is seriously unique and since Chiho Saito has a thing for incest, it’s probably the master of anime with not so subtle incest (apart from blatant hentai, of course). As much as the themes are mature (+lesbians), it has quite its fans. The most obvious pair is probably Nanami and Touga, although, I do agree that she just really, really admires him and is possessive of him but NOT necessarily in a sexual way. The other pair which I think is a bit iffy is between Kozue and Miki…Miki has a thing for Anthy, but Kozue is just well…let’s just say, even her twin brother isn’t off limits. Lastly of course, there’s Anthy and Akio. For those who aren’t familiar with the anime, they’re the couple that you just can’t contest.

Boku wa Imouto ni Koi o Suru
Boku wa Imouto ni Koi o Suru (I’m in Love with My Little Sister)

I accidentally stumbled on this title (OVA) while I was looking at list of anime releases. I’ve never seen this, but I know it’s about a pair of twins named Yori and Iku who happen to be attracted to each other…and give in. However, I’ve read reviews that it’s unrealistic, fantastical - pandering to people who have a fetish for this theme (it does contain sex scenes) and so it’s probably the only title that contains sibling attraction just to sell.
Update: Apparently, it’s being made into a drama starring Jun Matsumoto who’s not too bad. I think he’s better than Oguri Shun…who is creepy. For more info, this is DramaWiki’s page on it.

Lament of the Lab
Hitsuji no Uta (Lament of the Lamb)
This manga and made into OVA is by Kei Toume. Kazuna and Chizuna Takashiro are two siblings who seem to have a strange disease which turns out to be vampirism. Kazuna and Chizuna end up having a sort of incestuous relationship due to various things: 1). Chizuna seems to have had a “thing” with her father whom Kazuna resembles 2). Since they both have the same condition, there’s no one else to like, pretty much (Refer to V.C. Andrews’s Flowers in the Attic). If that one creeps you out, this IS considered horror and probably not because of vampirism only.

Maze
Maze (The Megaburst Space)
What’s a “megaburst”? The answer to that is probably less interesting than the premise of the show which is slightly nouveau. Mei and Akira Ikugara are two siblings in their own world who have fallen in love. Somehow, both of them fuse into one being called “Maze” in which during the day time, Mei is there while at night Akira is there because they switch places at sunrise and sunset. Anyway, they decide to remain in that state and in that world because regardless of restrictions, they can still be together. This set up of the two siblings being one person intensifies their genetic connection but it brings up the question of love. Is love just about who loves whom, not how they’re related or anything else but just an emotion? Or are social boundaries there for a reason? I suppose, this is relevant to anti-gay sentiment as well as religious beliefs…ah…too broad, too broad.

Koi Kaze
Koi Kaze
Supposedly, a more realistic and good anime series dealing with the phenomenon where two siblings meet after a long separation and start having romantic feelings for each other. Koshiro is the 27 year old brother while Nanoha is only 15. The premise is more reasonable, since after a long separation - the siblings would seem like strangers to each other and thus would more likely to feel sexual attraction.

Genetic/Unintended

Ayashi no Ceres
Ayashi no Ceres (Celestial Legend Ceres)
From my experience of the anime - it’s a very mediocre shoujo story with a bit of the fantastical, a lot of angst and love triangles. I wouldn’t recommend it per se, but if you’ve got time to kill it’s OK…bearable. Basically, it’s about two twins Aya and Aki who get possessed by the goddess Ceres and her mortal husband, respectively. Obviously, the goddess and her husband aren’t related but it JUST HAPPENS that he decides to possess Aya’s twin brother Aki out of pure obsession with Ceres/Aya. So when he tries to rape her, it’s as if Aki’s trying to rape his sister but since Aki’s not willfully doing it, it’s indirect - and so basically, a plot device.

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Shin Seiki Evangelion (Neon Genesis Evangelion)
I haven’t seen this, nope. BUT I do know how great and holy it’s supposed to be amongst a good chunk of anime fans around the 1990s. I also know some people’s obsession with Rei Ayanami. Getting down to what I mean by “genetic” is that Rei is a clone of Yui Ikari, who is the mother of Shinji Ikari. Unknown of that fact, Shinji develops a romantic attraction to Rei. Technically, it’s not incestuous because Rei ISN’T his mother except only in the matter of genes. While this matters in conception and having offspring, it doesn’t mean anything otherwise. Until he knew the truth, psychologically and emotionally she was just like any other teenage girl around his age, which essentially she is. What I mean is that Rei and Shinji don’t have the relationship of mother and son.

Le Chevalier d'Eon
Le Chevalier d’Eon
Boy, this series really picked up and it was a bit rushed towards the end but one of the twists is that Maximilien happens to be Lia de Beaumont’s half-brother. In the story, Maximilien and Lia fall in love with each other and are about to get married… I’m sure they can shake their hands at fate. That’s what happens when Kings have too many mistresses/concubines, etc. This type of thing is probably common in royal families throughout history.

Oniisama E...
Oniisama E… (Brother, Dear Brother)
Riyoko Ikeda, pseudo predecessor of Chiho Saito and author of The Rose of Versailles. If Saito drew from Ikeda (and we know Saito is fascinated with incest), I’m not surprised at the most relevant relationship between the protagonist and her “teacher” (aka half-brother). Nanako Misonou is very much impressed with her cram school teacher Takehiko Henmi and continues contact with him but alas, their relationship is revealed. Fated?!

Marmalade Boy
Marmalade Boy
This list is getting rather long. Yuu and Miki end up being step-siblings and fall in love with each other, through a misunderstanding - they think that they’re blood siblings but decide they would get married after all. Since it’s a misunderstanding, technically it’s not incest but to them…it would be.

Onegai Twins
Onegai Twins! (Please Twins!)
This revolves around the story of three teens named Maiku Kamishiro, Karen Onodera, and Miina Miyafuji. The three of them have only a photo to refer to of a small boy and girl who are probably siblings. But none of them know which of the two girls is related to Maiku. The complication is that Maiku is in love with both Karen and Miina and both of them are in love with him, so there would be an incestuous relationship depending on who Maiku chooses. However, this is resolved as it is later revealed that Karen is his twin and so he and Miina are okay to be together.

Ambiguous/Probably Not Incestuous/Creepy
Tenchi Muyo
Tenchi Muyo
I’m beginning to seem like a philistine, but I’m just not one for alien harem silly anime no matter how popular and great it is. I know Tenchi has a whole bunch of…stuff to it, TV, OVA and movies and I know there’s at least one aspect of some kind of incest to do with Tenchi and Princess Ayeka. And that’s all I know…I put this under ambiguous because I could have bad information.

Gilgamesh
Gilgamesh
Good old Gilgamesh. I actually really liked this series. I don’t necessarily think Kiyoko and Tatsuya like each other in that way…but there’s something odd still. Tatsuya is very devoted to her, and one of the other characters even mentions that he has a “sister complex” which he doesn’t deny. I think he has some complicated feelings towards her, some of which being that she’s the closest person that he’s ever known and can trust. From what I remember, Tatsuya is actually a clone of his father…so the perhaps implied incest would be even closer genetically since Tatsuya does not share their mother’s genes. In any case, their relationship is a little odd and I think Tatsuya really admires his elder sister and may indeed have a crush on her but that’s it, more or less.

Night Head Genesis
Night Head Genesis
Uh, yeah. Naoto and Naoya. I can say, a lot of the dialog is basically “Naoya! NAOYA!!!!” and so forth. Naoya gets his visions, starts whining…falls down - Naoto comes, starts cradling him and consoling him x 76. Not to mention, for the posters of this show I’ve seen Naoto and Naoya are in what I could call, a comprising pose. If I didn’t know they were siblings, I’d have thought this was some shounen-ai sci-fi show and for all I know, I think there’s some undercurrent of oddness between those two. There’s nothing explicit between them anytime in the anime but they’re really close, really.

Last Exile
Last Exile
I don’t think Dios and Delphine Eraclea are incestuous, no. Dios obviously doesn’t like Delphine because she’s twisted, evil and controlling but after his ritual she becomes creepy and says stuff about them being together forever. Then she sort of starts touching his face and lips continuing to be the creep she is. CREEP.

Honorable Mentions: Nariya and Eriya in the Vision of Escaflowne. Kaoru and Hikaru in Ouran Highschool Host Club.

Misc: Pink Lady (Chibi-Usa grown up turned evil) and Mamoru in Sailormoon.

That, my friends is sort of lengthy, no?

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Category: Series Reviews

A. Papillon is not amused.

5 Responses to “The Sibling Complex - O Brother, Where Art Thou?”

  1. xXMikotoNakadaiXx http://otakuspot.wordpress.com

    It might be helpful to note that the incest relationship between Ren and his sister in Fushigi Yuugi was in the part 2 of the OVA (which was anime-only), so there wasn’t really any incest in the canon material.

    Although Watase did have a hand in creating the OVAs…

  2. Alex Papillon http://

    Thanks for sharing that, though I wouldn’t know either way. Maybe Watase isn’t as odd as Saito.

  3. ii

    Berserk has a really screwed up half sibling relationship (Farnese and Serpico), I would note it.

  4. Alex Papillon http://

    ii: thanks for the heads up. Maybe there’ll be a handbook of “incest anime” someday.

  5. emi-chan

    what about .hack//legend of the twilight bracelet? the main character, shugo, and his twin sister rena seems to have a thing for each other though it’s not really emphasized in the anime/manga.

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