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Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai
For most of his life, Kyousuke’s relationship with his beautiful, professional model, younger sister Kirino has been non existent. Other than to exchange occasional pleasantries or fight, they rarely even speak to each other. After accidentally bumping into her one night, Kirino drops a moe DVD from her bag. That little bump is enough to change their relationship entirely as later she reveals herself to be a closeted otaku with a fetish for little sister eroge and magical girls.
With no one else to turn to, Kyousuke must now help his sister as their relationship continues to change and evolve into something entirely new. From taking a stand against their father for her sake, helping her make friends (named Saori and Kuroneko) to waiting in line at midnight sales, there is no length that he won’t (be forced to) go for his sister.
Good and the Bad
Usually when a new season comes around, I can always count on there being at least one series that really catches my attention. Last season it was OreImo. For the last couple of months, this has been my ‘go to’ series every week. No matter how stressed I got in the middle of the week, I knew that the week was going to end on a high note because there would be a new episode of OreImo waiting. I can barely even remember the last time a series made me feel that excited (Code Geass if you’re curious).
One of the primary standouts of last season, for me, there was no better reason than just how many different levels it worked to create a story to pull in its audience. On the very shiny surface, this is a moe series with a skill level just below K-ON. From the cute, tsundere, little sister heroine through to the supporting cast, there were few characters in this series that couldn’t inspire some level of moe from those watching. Though, depending on who you ask, Kirino could be the exception to this.
Kirino is a tsundere lead in the very truest sense. Not content with writing her as a brash otaku, this is another truly violent tsundere. Just about every episode will include her being rude, abusive or arrogant towards someone (usually her brother) and she will never be apologetic about it. If you can’t find a way to be charmed by her, this can be a difficult heroine to like. Which raises the question on if she’s so irritating and violent, what’s the point in watching?
Once you get past the shiny layer, OreImo shows where it works as a parody comedy. Kirino may be violent and loud but she is a true otaku in every sense of the word. In the first episode, fans were shocked (eroge producers and government were shocked for other reasons) at the mountain of eroge, anime and figures that Kirino had managed to collect despite being in middle school. From there it is only a matter of time before Kirino comes completely out of the closet and we see just how hardcore she is.
Over the next few episodes, I watched Kirino display her otaku side and could not stop laughing for a second as I recognized and empathized with all of her troubles and habits: the impatient waiting for a package to arrive, desiring that one coveted fan item that no other person will get to have, collecting something for no other reason than just to have them, having a close friend who just doesn’t get it… the list goes on. And for many other people watching around the world, I can imagine that the feelings were largely the same. The otaku compulsions were a fun poke that never felt mean spirited and, for a certain target demographic, made her possibly the most relatable female character in years.
This does create a snag along the way for all of the people watching who aren’t otaku. Jabbing just a bit further, these people are represented by Kirino’s non-otaku best friend, Ayase. After being introduced to Kirino’s hobby, her reaction starts negatively before eventually winding into confusion and mild acceptance. For people who don’t regularly watch anime, play eroge or generally partake in otaku culture there will be many scenes and episodes which will leave you in a confused Ayase state. This isn’t a series that is going to wait for anyone to keep up.
More than just a simple parody comedy, viewers can dig deeper still and find the layer that works on an emotional level. At its core, OreImo is a story about siblings finding a connection after years of ignoring each other. Despite all of the punches, kicks and insults hurled between the two, there is a genuine subtext to read all the way to the end. The feelings that develop between these two aren’t of that nature (though the series will sneak a few jokes in about it) but rather are of two teenagers who feel alienated within their own home; Kirino can’t share her passion and Kyousuke can’t relate to anyone he lives with. Finally finding the smallest of threads to hold onto, both characters are giving each other something they’ve never had; a new level of support they didn’t know they wanted.
There were sad moments that had soft ballads in the background. I can remember this much but sadly this is another series where the music played a much more subdued role in the story. However, even if the primary background music didn’t particularly stand out, there was one place where Satoru Kousaki really stood out: this man can compose some very nicely done eroge themes. The audience will never have to wait long for Kirino to get into a new game but when she plays the games, there are some nice theme songs attached to them.
Where OreImo really shines musically however is in its theme songs. While I don’t usually talk about theme songs as much, the opening theme (Irony sung by ClariS) is easily one of the best of the year for me. A catchy pop tune (which would bother Kuroneko), the lyrics were some of the more fitting that I’ve seen recently that could even feel insightful at times.
I cannot hide it, I have loved this series with a very excited passion. There will even be quite a few people that I tell to drop everything so that they can also watch this series and love it as much as I do. Not everyone is going to love OreImo with this kind of excitement however. Almost feeling like one big inside joke, there are numerous moments that I can imagine leaving people with a confused Ayase face. Barring that, I consider this one of the best otaku comedies since Lucky Star. If you aren’t afraid to have some laughs at the expense of otaku culture and a not always easy to love tsundere, this is easily one of the best comedies of the year. I eagerly await the DVD only episodes! Very recommended!