Home > Episode Reviews, Oreimo > Ore no Whatever Episode 6 – Chase What Makes Your Heart Flutter

Ore no Whatever Episode 6 – Chase What Makes Your Heart Flutter

It’s taken a while, but this is the first episode of the show I enjoyed without qualification. That this is almost entirely due to the fact that Kirino and her otaku junk is almost completely absent says something about how I feel about Oreimo.

Instead, it focuses on Manami Tamura, Kyousuke’s long-time friend, neighbor and unrequited crusher. So far Manami has mostly been in the show as a neutral viewpoint on Kirino’s otaku weirdness, and to provide a juxtaposition between her and the proper heroine and love interest of the show, Kirino (ew).

Manami is given all the flaws Kirino doesn’t have. She’s plain (for an anime laser-focused on making every single female character as appealing and marketable (read: wank-worthy) as possible); she’s kinda dull and ordinary to a fault. Both Kyousuke and her own grandfather separately describe her in this episode as an old lady.

The irony is that this makes her infinitely more tolerable than the show’s protagonist. She’s sweet, caring, and her every scene with Kyousuke is full to the brim of the kind of wistful, unrequited longing that, among modern pop fiction, only anime even tries to capture.

Manami's wide-eyed, glasses-wearing cuteness is a different kind of cute than the trendy, "cool girl" cute of Kirino, targeted at a different section of the fanbase

Kirino’s violent tsundere antics have long since ceased to be entertaining and have started to simply grate on me. From the standpoint of someone trying to make a show for otaku, it’s a great premise: her capricious whims create antics for episodes to revolve around, and the moments that reveal just how much she needs her big brother to protect her from the scary world are supposed to endear her to the audience. That must be one reason why tsundere shows are so popular.

But the problem is, Kyousuke saving her every time through some outlandish sacrifice not only stretches credulity, it also prevents her from learning any lesson and therefore growing as a character. Again thinking as someone creating otaku entertainment, this is actually a great thing, because it means you don’t have to write her character with enough depth or nuance to display that transformation and you can keep reusing the same formula over and over again until people get sick of it or you don’t get renewed for another season.

Kyousuke is absent for most of the episode, which leads Kirino to take out her frustrations on his door

For someone trying to watch the show without being interested in Kirino as an object of desire, though, it makes it really hard to find there to enjoy. That’s why this episode is a welcome respite.

I’ll admit: neither Manami nor her relationship with Kyousuke is interesting enough to devote more than a single one-off episode to. But guess what this is?

The episode begins with a series of events that lead to Kyousuke going over to Manami’s house and spending the night. Actually, I probably should be more explicit about those circumstances, because they’re a direct result of Manami asking Kyousuke over in the interest of furthering their romantic relationship.

Manami's grandfather likes to hide under the furniture and suggest she and Kyousuke hook up

Anime is full of unrequited romance for much the same reason it’s full of flat, boring characters who never change: writing interesting plot is hard, the writers don’t know any better, and it lets them extend the length of the series as long as possible. Because of this, most anime relationships end up in an irritating stasis where one or both characters like another, but neither does much about the situation, because that would require better writing and consequences.

So it’s pretty notable that Manami actually asks Kyousuke over. Good for her. That alone makes her part of an elite group of anime characters that actually seem to give a crap about the people they get all wistful and misty-eyed over.

Manami's brother tries to show his punk spirit by getting a buzz cut and playing the guitar. Unfortunately, that's a traditional monk's hair cut and he's playing a shamisen, a Japanese folk instrument

Once the two get over to Manami’s house and we meet her family, this episode gets good. Manami’s family are all basically one-off gag characters, from her brother, whose efforts to look and act like a Western punk only make him look more like a traditional Japanese monk, to her straight man grandmother, to her outlandish and ridiculous grandfather, who is first introduced to us when he is pretending to be dead on a table to freak out his granddaughter.

They’re good for a constant stream of silly gags, most of which revolve around the fact that Manami’s grandparents want Manami and Kyousuke to hook up even more than Manami wants to hook up with Kyousuke.

We first meet Manami's grandfather when he's pretending to be a zombie to freak out Manami. He does such a good job that they try to call an ambulance

Because of this, Manami and Kyousuke end up sleeping in the same room, next to each other.
While it doesn’t explicitly lead either to Manami letting Kyousuke know that she actually likes him or any development in their relationship at all and thus earns a disapproving glance from me for reasons I think I’ve stated above, it’s still a pretty touching near miss. And as someone who has watched anime for several years now, I’ve seen more than my fair share of those.

Kirino’s sole contribution comes in the form of a really abbreviated b-plot, in which she plays with something she just bought online and gets pissed that Kyousuke isn’t there, hinting at the fact that (surprise!) she secretly likes having her brother around, despite heaping abuse on him whenever he acknowledges her presence without being first addressed. It consumes roughly two minutes of air time, and I only bring it up because I’ve mentioned the thing she buys online before in passing.

I've mentioned these before, but I don't think we've ever posted a picture of one. Unfortunately, I now have the opportunity to do that

It’s a dakimakura, or body pillow, emblazoned with life-size depictions of two characters from her favorite anime. It’s gratuitous fan service both in the skin it shows as she rolls around with it and in that it depicts Kirino as being just another one of the otaku clan. I’ve talked about this kind of thing before: what I see as attempts to normalize otaku behavior in the minds of otaku, but I think I should bring it up here, because it’s going to show up again in later episodes in even creepier forms.

Anyway, that little bit of otaku excess isn’t enough to spoil what is otherwise a pretty decent episode. It’s too slight to recommend on its own and sadly not reflective of the show as a whole, but if for some reason you’re suffering this along with me, it’s a welcome break from the norm.

This is creepier when it's animated

You can watch the episode here.

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Categories: Episode Reviews, Oreimo Tags: , ,

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