Binbō Shimai Monogatari (貧乏姉妹物語?, lit. Poor sisters story) is a manga series by Izumi Kazuto. It has been adapted into an anime series by Toei Animation and was aired in Japan from June 2006 until September 2006.
Binbō Shimai Monogatari's plot revolves around two sisters, junior high school student named Kyō and elementary school student Asu, who live together alone. Their mother died the same year she gave birth to Asu and their father ran away, leaving them with a large gambling debt. They work together to live their lives and go to school in spite of the difficulties they face, receiving help from the people around them from time to time.
- Kyō Yamada (山田 きょう Yamada Kyō?)
- Voiced by: Maaya Sakamoto
- Kyō is the older sister of the two at 15 years old. She delivers newspapers to make money for their small family unit and has also taken up a tutoring job. She is afraid of lightning, but won't even let that stop her to take good care of her younger sister. Kyō promised her deceased mother that she would take good care of Asu and is doing everything in her power to live up to that promise. Her name is a homonym, as kyō can be written 今日 which means "today".
- Asu Yamada (山田 あす Yamada Asu?)
- Voiced by: Tomoko Kaneda
- Asu is the younger sister at 9 years old. She does the shopping for the family and also takes care of the cooking and cleaning. Asu is extremely fond of her big sister and tries to do everything she can to make life easier for her, since she is as yet too young to work for money herself. Asu is quite skilled; she has been chosen as class representative and is frequently consulted by her classmates when they have trouble with their homework. She claims to be tone-deaf, but manages to sing after some tutoring from neighbour Masao. Curiously enough, she has one memory of her mother, who died when Asu was still a baby; she remembers her mother asking her to take care of Kyō while she was still carrying Asu in her womb. Asu's name is also a homonym, written 明日 it means "tomorrow".
- Genzō Hayashi (林 源三 Hayashi Genzō?)
- Voiced by: Mugihito
- Genzō, the owner of the apartment building where the sisters live, is an older man who rarely smiles and appears gruff and forbidding. He is, however, very much concerned with the sisters' welfare and was the only one willing to take them in when their father abandoned them. In his own way, he tries to look out for the Yamada sisters. They apparently remind him of his wife Eriko and his daughter Mami, who were killed in an accident involving a truck. For all that he cares about the sisters (whom he treats like granddaughters), he still will collect the full rent every month.
- Echigoya Sisters (越後屋姉妹 Echigoya Shimai?)
- Kinko and Ginko are another pair of sisters. Kinko (golden child) is the elder, Ginko (silver child) the younger; Ginko attends the same elementary school as Asu and is also class representative, but considerably less popular, since her personality is more domineering than Asu's. Kinko is a member of her school's student council and Ginko expects that she will have to live up to her older sister's example. These sisters are both blond-haired and belong to an extremely rich family, with all the advantages thereof. However, their relationship is much rockier than that enjoyed by Kyō and Asu, since they do not always understand each other as well as they should; initially Ginko feels that she is a constant disappointment to her older sister and that Kinko must dislike her; Kinko in turn thinks that Ginko hates her. Eventually a troubled Ginko manages to understand her sister a little better and patch their relationship somewhat thanks to advice from Asu and her covert observations of the Yamada sisters' homelife - through a telescope. At one time, the sisters kept a pet alligator named John in their garden, who had been visited with the indignity of a bow ribbon. Kinko has an obsession with acquiring bargains from shops and has charged Ginko with acquiring them after her school goes out. Since they are rich, Ginko is as baffled by this obsession as are the Yamada sisters.
- Ranko Saegusa (三枝 蘭子 Saegusa Ranko?)
- Voiced by: Akiko Hiramatsu
- The sisters' downstairs neighbour is a woman who constantly wears sunglasses and is apparently abysmally bad at housekeeping. It is unclear what kind of work she does, but she is apparently well-off, as could be seen when Kyō found a wallet Ranko had dropped. Asu is the only one to have seen Ranko without her sunglasses, which make her seem somewhat suspicious. Asu claims the 'neighbour onee-san' looks like a nice person without them. When she learns of the sisters' situation, she warms up to them, even lending Kyō one of her suits and fixing her makeup when the elder sister wants to look a bit more mature for Asu's school's open house.
- Masao Ichinokura (一ノ倉 正男 Ichinokura Masao?)
- Voiced by: Daisuke Kishio
- Masao is another of the Yamada sisters' neighbours at the apartment building. He is an aspiring singer who has to live off part-time jobs and is struggling to make his breakthrough. Masao already has a loyal following of fans, which supplies him with food. An encounter with Asu and her request to him to give her singing lessons so she can pass a test at school motivate him not to give up his dreams of becoming a singer.