This article describes the various crushes and romantic feelings prevailing between the many characters of Minami-ke. Rather unusually among shows and manga of its genre, it contains many implied or explicit romantic elements, but these do not dominate the story as they would in, for example, a drama. It is necessary to keep in mind that, excluding the on-off relationship between Takeru and his never-seen girlfriend Reiko, the only fully canon pairing is that between Kana and Fujioka (Sensei and Ninomiya-kun appear only in the anime, and are themselves fictional within the series).
Canon relationship anticipated
The evidence for a future relationship (a future which may never arrive) between Kana and Fujioka is overwhelming, since they behave towards each other in every way typical of a couple who refuses to admit they actually are a couple. Such a relationship is pretty much assumed by every other character, except for Akira, who misunderstands the situation entirely. In addition, in the magic pen scene, where the pen always correctly points towards the object named, the pen points towards Fujioka when Kana asks for her "fantastic future husband candidate", though Kana seemingly fails to appreciate the significance of this. Further, the textual narrators in both the manga and anime imply that the pen is accurate. Fujioka's confession to Kana is at the very beginning of both the anime and manga and they seem like a compatible couple. It would be surprising if they fail to attempt a relationship eventually.
Fujioka confesses his love to Kana twice. However, both times, with some interference from Chiaki, she seems to interpret these as threats from the local Banchou and respond with violence or defensive postures. Despite this, she begins inviting him over to her house on a regular basis, and he becomes quite close with the Minami Family. Other characters in the show begin to treat the two of them as a a couple in some ways, though without ever being too explicit. After the second "rejection", Fujioka stops attempting direct confessions, and instead tries to think of other ways to get Kana to understand his feelings. He gives gifts to the entire family on Christmas and hides evidence of his popularity with other girls on Valentine's Day, and repeatedly attempts to invite Kana on the equivalent of dates, though he is generally either shot down for irrelevant reasons, or finds himself at an event with Kana, her sisters, and several of her friends. He lives for the slightest hints of interest from Kana and is often seen getting excited over perfectly meaningless events. Fujioka is madly in love with Kana and extremely tenacious, not having given up after what has been at least two years since his confession to (and first time speaking with) Kana. Chiaki once even gives him a bit of a morale boost. 
Kana's true feelings towards Fujioka are far more difficult to determine. Outwardly, Kana seems completely unaware of Fujioka's feelings towards her and does not acknowledge any possible relationship between them. This is the tack taken by the series most of the time, and what is understood by the other characters, who consider the problem with Fujioka and Kana's relationship to be Kana's sheer denseness when it comes to Fujioka. The problem with this point of view is two-fold. One lies in the level of density that Kana must have for this to be true, which stretches the bounds of reason. For instance, Kana's reason for rejecting Fujioka's first two confessions is based on her belief that he is a banchou, and that his confessions are in fact challenges to fights, an interpretation which requires an extremely implausible reading between the lines of his sentences. This is plainly preposterous, and Kana shows signs that she understands that the "Banchou" storyline is an elaborate game perpetuated by her and Hiroko, something which should be apparent to any reality-accepting person. However, if Kana truly understands this, then the bottom falls out of her justification for dismissing Fujioka's confessions.
Further, Kana somehow ignores myriad hints and oblique comments from people ranging from Fujioka himself to Keiko to Haruka. Since Kana is otherwise extremely adept at understanding the social situation and manipulating people, it seems doubtful that she could truly miss so many hints.
The other half of the problem lies in Kana's behavior toward Fujioka. She supposedly thinks he is a dangerous Banchou, but rather quickly begins inviting him to her home on a regular basis, as well as to a wide variety of social events where he would seem out of place if he were only her friend. Further, on two out of three Valentine's Days (two out of two in the manga), she has ended up giving him chocolate, the second time for a reason that is quite implausible (Because she though he looked tired and thus needed chocolate, and she entirely forgot what day it was despite making a huge fuss over it earlier).
A possible alternate position, then, is that Kana is for some reason refusing to let their relationship go beyond a certain point, or refusing to reveal some sort of feelings for Fujioka, in a highly nontraditional tsundere manner. In this interpretation, there are two situations where Kana lets the mask slip. The first occurs when Fujioka accidentally sees her naked in the onsen, and Kana, instead of yelling at him or doing anything typical, instead retreats, acting melancholic and questioning what she should have done. The other is when Fujioka fails to participate in a game of tag at the pool that Kana instigates, due to shyness, and Kana gets angry, even kicking him for his noncooperation. Her facial expressions in this scene in the anime are uncharacteristic.
What Kana's true feelings are must await further development within the manga.
Hosaka first sees Haruka as she's playing volleyball with great skill, and Hayami explains to him that she wants him to recruit her to girls' volleyball team, which she consistently refuses to join due to the time pressure of raising two sisters. This leads to a rapidly escalating chain of hilarity that extends all the way to the end of the series. Hosaka promises to succeed but, having fallen in love at first sight, plans instead to get her to be the manager of the boys' volleyball, of which he is a member, so that she can wipe his sweat. He then learns that she has two "kids" from Maki, who at this point in the series is grossly misinformed.
This kind of over-the-top behavior is typical for Hosaka, whose "love" for Haruka is a stereotype of crushes. He goes into elaborate fantasies whenever he sees her or she is mentioned; these fantasies often involve her two "daughters" and are a parody of dating sims. He has a disturbing habit of unbuttoning his shirt during these. The sum total of these causes Maki to consistently refer to him and the things he does as "Kimochi Warui". He constructs elaborate plans for the perfect first meeting with Haruka, which always fail, often because he refuses to tolerate minor deviations from perfection. In short, while Hosaka constantly professes his love for Haruka, it is likely he will never so much as ever speak to her.
Riko is introduced by having her blush while looking at Fujioka. This immediately establishes her most salient character aspect. However, she has a major problem: Fujioka only has eyes for Kana and their relationship is highly developed, with Fujioka visiting her house and even eating her cooking! After brief despair, Riko decides the solution is to get close to Kana and, through her, to Fujioka. Ironically, she and Kana become fairly good friends.
While Riko reaches the point where she goes on group outings with Fujioka, this never happens outside Kana's presence. Further, while Riko continues to envy Kana and plot to get closer to Fujioka, she never manages to do anything meaningful. It almost seems like she's content just being near him, except that she still tries. She doesn't see anything strange about being good friends with the girl who keeps Fujioka from noticing her.
Makoto's first visit to Chiaki's house is also the first time he sees Haruka. To him, it is love at first sight, and he becomes enamored with her beauty and nurturing nature. Unfortunately for him, his devotion, his helpfulness towards Haruka, and the praise he wins from Haruka attract Chiaki's jealousy. Consequently, Chiaki near-absolutely bans him from visiting her house.
With the help of Kana, however, he finds a way around this barrier: Become Mako-chan! He learns to cross-dress and begins doing so on a regular basis in order to visit Chiaki's house. By doing so, he gets plenty of time to spend around Haruka, with Chiaki being none the wiser. Unfortunately, there is an obvious heavy cost to doing this and it is doubtful he is making any progress with Haruka by deceiving her about who he is. Not that it was likely ever more than a pipedream to start with.
Legend at Kana's school has it that Hitomi, the second Banchou, was the only one capable of defeating the notorious delinquent Natsuki. It is unclear if this is true, but it seems unlikely given their relative physical stature. Given the manner in which previous Banchou legends were created, it seems more likely that Natsuki was defeated by her gender, as he is shown refusing to hit Hitomi when she dares him to. Hitomi, then, has been focusing attention on Natsuki since at least the third year of middle school.
Just why she focuses such attention becomes quickly apparent. Hitomi clearly has a crush on him and seems to be continuously trying to get his attention, giving him an umbrella when he does not have one and trying to feed him from her own lunch. Hitomi believes herself an expert at reading the emotions in his seemingly expressionless eyes, but can be erroneous when determining where they are looking. When Natsuki glances at Haruka with what Hitomi thinks is a strong look of interest, she misinterprets it as being a look for her, and goes into brief hysterics.
Though Hayami displays some of the traits of a closet lesbian, even the fanbase was reluctant to speculate until a famous scene at the end of season one. In the scene, Hayami gets all the other girls drunk by claiming that the alcohol she has brought is "juice". Kana wisely eschews drinking any of it. However, by the end of the scene, Hayami is herself quite drunk and proposes to Kana that they go find somewhere to be together, strongly hinting towards Strange Things. Kana is unable to escape her embrace, fondling, and later kiss. The scene ends without revealing what happens. It is noteworthy that Hayami ignored Haruka, Chiaki, Atsuko, and Maki, all helplessly passed out, and made a move on Kana instead.
While Makoto's most obvious (and stated) devotion is to Haruka, it seems very likely that Makoto harbors similar, unstated feelings for Chiaki. Much of the evidence is circumstantial. Makoto spends a great degree of time arguing with Chiaki, desperately making a concerted attempt to get into her good graces, for unclear reasons.
Constantly rebuffed by her acerbic opinion of him, and under the mistaken impression that showing great energy and asserting his opinion will somehow help, he nonetheless continues trying, and obeys her punishing commands with dead serious earnestness.
Besides this, Makoto consistently shows a greater level of concern about and pays more attention to Chiaki than to any of the other girls in the show, more so even than to Haruka. Chiaki is, after all, a far more realistic prospect than Haruka ever would be.
The best evidence comes from Minami-ke: Okaeri Episode 07. In Segment One, he shows great willingness to help Chiaki with her problem with the three-legged race, and in Segment Four, Chiaki seems to compliment him and call him cute, leaving great ambiguity as to whether she is actually talking about him or not. This affects him deeply, and he spends the last part of the segment alternately enthused and confused, to a degree for which it is difficult to ascribe any cause other than some sort of crush.
Any possible such attraction would have to be very well hidden, given Chiaki's outward policy of disliking and ignoring idiots. However, it is true that she tolerates him far better than she claims she would, and that she wouldn't be the first to use a policy of violence and verbal abusiveness on someone she is actually attracted to.
In Minami-ke Episode 10, Makoto attempts to confess to her that Mako-chan is actually himself cross-dressing, but manages to word it in such a way that he appears to be on the verge of confessing love. Chiaki behaves uncharacteristically, blushing and eventually kicking him in the face. However, this scene is anime-original.
All other evidence comes almost entirely from Minami-ke: Okaeri Episode 07. Not only does Chiaki express in Segment One her displeasure at her lack of athletic skill and the consequent lack of help she will be to Makoto for the three-legged race in the upcoming sports festival, she works actively with Mako-chan to rectify this, and blushes strongly when he later grabs onto her. She also seems to call him cute in Segment Four, though the meaning of this depends entirely on how much she has pierced the veil of deception surrounding Mako-chan. Makoto at least is strongly affected by this.
For an unemotional-acting character, Natsuki spends a considerable amount of time conferring over the phone with Haruka about cooking and perhaps other things. He is also the character who once suffered the misfortune of being pushed into Haruka's bosom and viewing her partially dressed, events which for some time afterward caused him to bang his head and suffer a nosebleed whenever reminded of it, due to the thoughts it invoked. It is also something he remembers when queried about the possibility of having a girlfriend, though this is anime-only.
Other characters also get in on this speculation, with Kana once broaching the possibility to Chiaki and Maki voicing to Natsuki her suspicion that Natsuki is using Touma's constant visits to Haruka's household as an excuse to talk to her. In this latter case, Natsuki denies it and shoves Maki forcefully which, as Maki notes, is evidence that her words have struck a chord.
Atsuko remarks on multiple occasions that Hosaka seems cool as long as he doesn't say anything strange or start to unbutton his shirt. She seems to be saying that Hosaka would be an interesting guy if only he would stop being so weird. Atsuko also defends him from Maki's insults. This causes Maki to worry that Atsuko is starting to like him, an accusation she repeats in the previously mentioned Okaeri Episode Eight.
When Kumada visits the Minami household for a home visit, Takeru talks with her as a subsitute guardian for the three sisters, and the two of them instantly hit it off, the conversation becoming concentrated flirting rather than focusing on the original topic of discussion. This happens despite Takeru already supposedly having a girlfriend in Reiko, which may explain a few things.
There is considerable evidence that Fuyuki forms a significant attachment to Chiaki, constantly seen wanting to talk to or interact with Chiaki. He completely fails to ever express it, however, due to his extreme emotional repression. Chiaki is occasionally seen telling him to stop denying his emotions, and it is worth questioning why she cares so much.
Though the relatively significant attention Chiaki pays to him causes even her friends and sister to speculate on the possibility of a reverse attachment, Chiaki flatly denies it, and it is indeed more consistent with her character that she is merely annoyed with his milquetoast behavior and trying to reform him. The only fly in the ointment in this regard is Chiaki's surprising reaction to his letter after his move.
It is worth mentioning that this is one pairing that the fanbase absolutely detests, stemming from their total antipathy towards Fuyuki, and while most will acknowledge the evidence in the first paragraph, and a rare few will be found arguing with the evidence in the second paragraph, no one actually likes the concept.
One of the more disturbing possibilities, though an anime-only one. He refuses to accept Touma's boyishness,, refuses to admit the possibility of her one day having a boyfriend,, and is once seen fondling a picture of her. Perhaps the best evidence is in Minami-ke: Okaeri Episode 04, where it is revealed that he once gave Touma, as a birthday present, a manga about "loving your brother", a manga that Akira says likely contributed to the way Touma behaves now. Since Touma behaves very boyishly, the exact opposite of what any such manga would suggest, it's likely she tried hard not to act like that.
The entire basis for this possibility comes down to a single scene, wherein Akira comments that he wouldn't really like a girlfriend like Kana (earning him a kick from said girl) but would rather prefer a girl with long, free hair, such as Riko. Thin gruel indeed, but enough to base speculation off of.
In one scene, Yuu acts toward Kana with unusual affection, possibly causing Hiroko to get jealous. However, there is a perfectly reasonable in-show explanation for this, as Yuu had been told to act like Fujioka would, and Hiroko did not want Riko to get traumatized. The "crush" interpretation is more plausible in the manga artwork.
After discovering that Fujioka is not a Banchou, Chiaki begins to treat Fujioka with an unusual degree of warmth, constantly sitting in his lap. The most blatant examples of this strange affection comes from segments two and three of Okaeri episode 10, and their corresponding manga chapters 106 and 52. In the first, she gives Uchida trivia she doesn't want to hear about, but gives Fujioka heart-warming trivia about the clouds that form from jet exhaust. In the second, she expresses strong jealousy when Fujioka seems to start paying excessive attention to Touma. Coupled with her idealization of Fujioka as a father figure, some have even suggested the formation of a complete Electra Complex.
One piece of countervailing evidence is that Chiaki once seems to deliberately enhance Fujioka's faith in Kana. It could also be argued that she is trying to keep Fujioka from leaving.
Touma and Chiaki have an unusually close friendship, with an interaction dynamic more characteristic of a brother and sister than of friends. This has caused speculation that their relationship is deeper than just friendship, especially when their closeness is on display in situations involving Fujioka, who still believes Touma to be a boy. The cumulative effect of Fujioka's misguided observations is to almost certainly convince him that Touma and Chiaki are close on a level that he only wishes he could achieve with Kana. For instance, in the scene pictured on the right, no one else seems to see anything unusual in Touma demanding that Chiaki take off and give Touma her clothes, forcing Fujioka to draw some rather disturbing conclusions. It is questionable whether Fujioka's belief, grounded as it is in a misunderstanding, is in fact true, but at least this particular theory is held by an actual member of the cast.
Fans of such things occasionally put forward the view that Chiaki's unusual degree of devotion to Haruka is indicative of more than just familial love. Chiaki often goes to Haruka for hugs, and sleeps with her when she is scared.
Another possibility arises later on in Okaeri, as Kana and Chiaki get along better. Prior to them getting over their feuding, both of their loves originally seemed focused only towards their older sister. In Okaeri Twelve, Kana even offers to feed and bathe Chiaki, and all three sisters hug.
This is revisited in episode 3 of Tadaima when, the donut she won via rock scissors paper missing, she threatens to taste both Chiaki and Touma's mouths to find out which of them ate the sugar-sprinkled donut.
In both scenarios, it is also possible that Kana is simply messing with Chiaki by using her (and later, Touma's) insecurities about intimacy, as opposed to genuinely wanting it.
In Minami-ke: Tadaima Episode 09 the Minami sisters try to set up this pair on a date. It turns out they had been coincidentally running into each other the street in unmentioned previous occasions, and met each other for the first time here.
Confirmed, but minor, relationships
Despite constant relationship problems, and repeated dumpings of Takeru by Reiko, they continue to act as a couple. Takeru is clearly the inferior in the relationship and is always desperate for her to take him back. Given Takeru's behavior towards Kumada, he may be looking for a way out, and simply hasn't found another woman.
Sensei and Ninomiya-kun
- Main article: Sensei and Ninomiya-kun
Sensei and Ninomiya-kun are anime-only in-show fictional characters, appearing on a drama that appears throughout the first season. The relationship between them is frowned upon by society, and the entire show is a parody of Japanese romance dramas, with overdone acting and ridiculous plot twists. At the end of the first season, the two of them marry, making them the most successful couple on this entire list.
- ↑ See Banchou, or Minami-ke Episode 11#Segment Two (Minami-ke Chapter 051)
- ↑ Minami-ke: Okaeri Episode 01#Segment Five (Minami-ke Chapter 033)
- ↑ Minami-ke Episode 01#Segment Five (Minami-ke Chapter 002), and Minami-ke Episode 03#Segment Three (Minami-ke Chapter 011)
- ↑ Minami-ke Episode 12#Segment One (Minami-ke Chapter 024) and Minami-ke: Okaeri Episode 09#Segment Two (Minami-ke Chapter 071)
- ↑ Minami-ke: Okawari Episode 07 (Minami-ke Chapter 027). The fact of his popularity can be inferred from this, but it is also stated explicitly in Minami-ke Episode 01#Segment Five (Minami-ke Chapter 02)
- ↑ For instance, Minami-ke: Okaeri Episode 07#Segment Five (Minami-ke Chapter 115)
- ↑ See Minami-ke Chronology
- ↑ Minami-ke: Okawari Episode 11#Segment Five (Minami-ke Chapter 064)
- ↑ Minami-ke: Okawari Episode 02 (Minami-ke Chapter 065). Note that the anime episode is far more elaborate.
- ↑ Two of the Valentine's Days in the anime may, in fact, be the same day. See Minami-ke Chronology.
- ↑ Minami-ke: Okawari Episode 07 (Minami-ke Chapter 27) and Minami-ke: Betsubara#Segment Four (Minami-ke Chapter 122)
- ↑ Minami-ke: Okawari Episode 01#Segment One (Minami-ke Chapter 074)
- ↑ Minami-ke: Okaeri Episode 05#Segment Five (Minami-ke Chapter 112)
- ↑ Minami-ke Episode 04#Segment Four (Minami-ke Chapter 008)
- ↑ As he does in Minami-ke Episode 03#Segment Four (Minami-ke Chapter 014)
- ↑ Minami-ke Episode 04#Segment Two (Minami-ke Chapter 023)
- ↑ In Minami-ke: Okawari Episode 09#Segment Two (Minami-ke Chapter 062), Chiaki lets him come back just long enough for him to get himself banned again, though this is partly Kana's fault.
- ↑ Minami-ke Episode 07#Segment Four (Minami-ke Chapter 037)
- ↑ Minami-ke: Okaeri Episode 04#Segment Four and Five (Minami-ke Chapter 103 and Minami-ke Chapter 108), also Hitomi's only appearances so far.
- ↑ Minami-ke Episode 13#Segment Four (Minami-ke Chapter 025)
- ↑ Minami-ke: Okawari Episode 12 (Minami-ke Chapter 077)
- ↑ A good example of this arises as early as Minami-ke Episode 02#Segment Four (Minami-ke Chapter 005).
- ↑ Minami-ke: Okaeri Episode 03#Segment Three (Minami-ke Chapter 061)
- ↑ Minami-ke Episode 11#Segment Four (Minami-ke Chapter 055)
- ↑ Minami-ke Episode 11#Segment Five (Minami-ke Chapter 056). Also, much later, in Minami-ke: Okaeri Episode 12#Segment Three (Minami-ke Chapter 082). It is worth noting that Makoto, as Mako-chan, shares similar experiences in Minami-ke Episode 06#Segment Four (Minami-ke Chapter 029) and Five, as well as in Minami-ke: Okaeri Episode 07#Segment Three (Minami-ke Chapter 114).
- ↑ Minami-ke Episode 12#Segment Two
- ↑ Minami-ke: Okaeri Episode 03#Segment Three (Minami-ke Chapter 061)
- ↑ Minami-ke: Okaeri Episode 12#Segment Three (Minami-ke Chapter 082)
- ↑ For instance, in Minami-ke Episode 08#Segment Four (Minami-ke Chapter 042) and Minami-ke: Okaeri Episode 08#Segment Four.
- ↑ Minami-ke Episode 04#Segment Four (Minami-ke Chapter 008)
- ↑ While it laughable to suggest that Takeru is a de facto guardian of the three sisters, it is likely that he helps to fund their lifestyles, and may very well their legal guardian (See Takeru).
- ↑ Minami-ke: Okaeri Episode 01#Segment Four (Minami-ke Chapter 089). Home visits are a common practice in Asian countries, at least for elementary schools, but are typically done by the homeroom teacher, not the school nurse, a fact Chiaki comments on.
- ↑ Minami-ke: Okawari Episode 07
- ↑ Minami-ke: Okawari Episode 13
- ↑ Minami-ke Episode 12#Segment Two
- ↑ Minami-ke: Okaeri Episode 04#Segment Three
- ↑ Minami-ke: Okaeri Episode 13#Segment Four
- ↑ Which could mean a lot of things...
- ↑ Minami-ke Episode 11#Segment Two (Minami-ke Chapter 051)
- ↑ Minami-ke: Okaeri Episode 11#Segment One (Minami-ke Chapter 046). The chart above, and Wikipedia, believe it to be true, however.
- ↑ Minami-ke: Okaeri Episode 11#Segment One (Minami-ke Chapter 046). This is somewhat vague evidence, and there is in fact a perfectly reasonable in-show explanation for this, but it is true according to Wikipedia and the chart at the top of the page. In the manga, Kana recoils more strongly at Yuu's behavior, implying a greater possibility of it being unusually affectionate.
- ↑ Minami-ke Episode 03#Segment Four (Minami-ke Chapter 014)
- ↑ Minami-ke: Okawari Episode 11#Segment Five (Minami-ke Chapter 064)
- ↑ See Chiaki Minami#Surrogate Family Creation
- ↑ For instance, Minami-ke: Okaeri Episode 02#Segment One (Minami-ke Chapter 095) and Minami-ke: Okaeri Episode 10#Segment One (Minami-ke Chapter 080).
- ↑ See Fujioka#With Touma
- ↑ Again, Minami-ke: Okaeri Episode 10#Segment One (Minami-ke Chapter 080)
- ↑ Minami-ke: Okaeri Episode 01#Segment Four (Minami-ke Chapter 089)