Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai Episodes 2 and 3 – False Idols
Writing about the previous episode of Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai (or, at its fans call it and which I will do likewise for the sake of brevity, ‘Oreimo’), I was convinced it would become the kind of bland attempt at comedy that marks most otaku-centered animation. It turns out it hasn’t, and what comedy it has is generally pretty funny, if you get the in-jokes, but it has instead become something far more sinister.
I mentioned before that there’s a burgeoning subgenre of otaku anime defending the otaku lifestyle. Those shows, however, usually have some other purpose, something else for the otaku apologia to stand behind. So far, however, this show has only two purposes: setting up straw men against otaku hobbies only to knock them over (or, even more embarrassing, making them more sympathetic than the otaku characters), and pandering to people who find themselves sexually attracted to little sisters in anime.
Kirino is the star of the show, of course, but what I haven’t touched on yet is the disgusting lengths this show will go to put her up on a pedestal. Every so often, some threat will appear to Kirino’s closet otaku status, and then Kyousuke, dutiful slave to his little sister’s every whim that he is, will have to do something embarrassing to save her from her own careless impropriety.
We see that in episode 3: after making some otaku friends in episode 2, she seems better off than ever before. Until she accidentally bumps into her father and drops the porn game she was hiding, because whoever is writing this is apparently completely unimaginative.
For some strange reason, her father becomes upset that his middle school daughter has pornographic games starring underage little sisters. He forbids her from playing them, and she throws a fit and storms out.
What follows is almost embarrassing, as Kyousuke lectures his father on what a good influence her otaku hobbies have been, and how they’ve allowed her to make friends. His father wisely ignores that, saying it’s immaterial to the fact that his daughter is illegally buying and playing pornographic games.
Kyousuke gets in his father’s face, yelling at him, telling him that if he took her hobbies away, she’d cease to be herself. His father doesn’t budge, pointing out that the game is rated 18+ and that Kirino is 14. Desperate to help Kirino, Kyousuke tells his father that those games are his. His father is surprised, since Kirino is the only one in the house with a computer, but Kyousuke says he borrowed hers.
“You really borrowed your little sister’s computer to play a game about doing perverted things to a little sister?” his father acts, and Kyousuke replies in the affirmative. He proceeds to yell about how much he loves anime and eroge until he pisses his father off so much that he clocks Kyousuke in the face.
The appropriateness of punching your child in the face aside, it’s pretty impressive that an anime about being socially persecuted for your hobbies is so terrible at defending them. Kirino just whines and runs away, and Kyousuke’s father has the upper hand throughout the entirety of his argument.
But the strange thing is that Kyousuke would make such a drastic step to begin with. The show is very clear that he and Kirino don’t get along, and even though the show has been about their relationship growing, they’ve still only been speaking to each other for what, a few weeks? Maybe a month at most. Is that really enough time to go from hating your snotty, perfect little sister to making your father think you’re the perverted otaku instead of her?
Kirino is easily the least likable character in the show. Sure, she’s pretty and has all those classic moe traits, but she’s also bratty and self-centered, inhabiting a delusional world where everybody thinks the same as her, else she badgers them into a reluctant and begrudging assent.
She is, in other words, the very model of a stereotypically catty teenage girl. A popular girl, the kind who turns up her nose at the otaku around her, even as she indulges in the same hobbies. A girl not even brave enough to stand up and admit what she loves, because she’s too afraid of what all her other popular friends will say.
So what does it say about this show that she is its goddess, someone who must be protected by Kyousuke and the legions of slavering fanboys who follow their every move?
It says that it doesn’t matter how ugly you are on the inside: what matters is that you’re beautiful and perfect on the outside. That’s what makes people willing to ruin their lives, rather than cause you harm.
And if you’re ugly or ordinary, then you’re nothing. Just another peon whose only job is to throw yourself on your sword, when it comes time to defend the honor of someone prettier or more worthy than you.
That’s a pretty messed up message for a show. Not only because it denies the intrinsic worth of human life (which I know enough to know is a Western concept that doesn’t necessarily apply elsewhere), but because it’s telling otaku that their lot in life is to defend the very people who abuse them and turn their noses down on them, while at the same time telling them that it’s fine to indulge in their hobbies, even though they’re shameful and weird and the reason people don’t like them.
That level of bizarre guilt and self-denial almost makes the wacky alternate realities of most shows like this seem normal and healthy, two words I would never use to describe Oreimo. And, would you believe, it only gets worse?