Season aired: Fall 2023
Number of episodes: 12
Watched on: Crunchyroll
Translated by: ?
Genres: Drama, Slice of Life
Thoughts: The Yuzuki Family’s Four Sons made waves on social media when the first episode aired. Not for the story, not for the characters, and not for the fact that it’s adapted from an award-winning manga. The anime made waves because the English translation was atrocious. Filled with grammatical, typographic, and idiomatic errors, the unprofessional translations prevented audiences from even understanding what the story was about. It was the greatest disservice done to a series with a heartwarming tale and loveable characters.
The Yuzuki Family consists of four brothers and no parents. Though their parents died several years back, their oldest brother Hayato works hard to care for his family. Mikado causes little problems, but Minato causes plenty. The youngest, Gakuto, is still learning the way of the world. Together, each brother, with their distinct personality and role, navigates life together through happiness and grief.
While the horrific translation was fixed in later episodes, the biggest issue with what appears to be MTL (“machine translation”) subs is how it completely ruined the premiere. The first episode is a perfect introduction to the story and characters, ending on a sob-worthy note of the struggles of a family who have encountered intense grief but are trying their best to stay put-together. Instead, scenes where the brothers argue are hilarious rather than sad. Moments of joy and thankfulness are interrupted by confusion because of the dialogue. The first episode’s botched translation really shows the importance of a good translation, and how butchering it can completely ruin the experience. Even with the fixed subs, my memory of the first episode is tainted by how I felt in the moment watching in confusion and horror.
This, thankfully, didn’t ruin the rest of the series. The Yuzuki Family’s Four Sons is a largely episodic narrative, with a set number of episodes dedicated to each brother, showcasing their worlds through their unique perspectives based on where they are in life and what role they play in the family. Of the four brothers, Gakuto’s stories are my favorite. As the baby of the family, he is simultaneously mature, having gone through grief at such a young age, and immature. His lack of experience mixed with his considerate outlook brings out the best in all characters, whether it’s his brothers or the supporting characters. Even Minato, the most troublesome brother of the four, appears charming when Gakuto narrates.
I do think the adaptation of the stories is uneven. Minato takes up the most space, even in other people’s arcs, and I wish we got to see more of Mikado and Hayato alone. Especially later in the series, where the story is focused on the two, Minato still feels more central to the arc than the brother who is supposed to be the focus.
What I like most about the series is the creativity of the scene transitions. They showcase the emotions felt by the characters, and the emotions transcend through the screen. In one episode, Minato and his best friend Uta overhear a secret and run away in panic. As both feel guilty for accidentally eavesdropping and terrified of having to keep the secret, they dash wildly through the streets. As they run, their world slowly transforms from an animated-style background to actual real-life images. It not only makes the viewer laugh but also drives home just how much the characters were freaked out. The last episode also expertly uses this technique for grief. As the brothers ride a bus on their way to their parents’ grave, the scene transitions to a penciled art style. On the side of the road, they imagine their parents smiling at them, and the faded pencil shades illustrate the fear and sorrow of slowly forgetting about the family they lost.
Aside from the creativity, the technical aspects are all good. In one episode, we learn how Uta and Minato became best friends, culminating in an astoundingly well-animated and well-choreographed fight scene within a landscape of anime adaptations where most slice-of-life series tend to forego good animation due to time constraints. The music is also effective, assigning a unique theme to each brother, yet all played by the flute, showing not only their connection as a family but also their differences in personality. The cast as a whole performed well, with neither brother outshining the other in their performances.
In the end, The Yuzuki Family’s Four Sons managed to outstep their initial error. While I will never understand who made the decision or why they thought such translation was acceptable, I do hope that it can be a lesson learned. If the same terrible translation remained throughout the series, I would’ve written a scathing rebuke to the entire series and been unable to appreciate the actual story and characters for its heart and creativity.
Plot: 7 (Multiplier 3)
Characters: 7 (Multiplier 3)
Art/Animation: 7.5 (Multiplier 2)
Voice acting: 8
FINAL SCORE: 73