Home > Episode Reviews, Oreimo > Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai Episode 10 – I Wanna Be Adored

Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai Episode 10 – I Wanna Be Adored

I’ve mentioned before that my enjoyment of an episode tends to be inversely proportional to the amount of Kirino in it. That trend continues with this episode, which is a solid one-off that continues Oreimo’s apologetic but nonetheless brutal look into otaku culture.

The framing story is pretty simple: Ayase, Kirino’s otaku-hating friend of episodes 4 and 5, wants to buy her a birthday present. She’s not willing to accept Kirino’s otakuness, but she’s willing to buy her something otaku-related because it’s her birthday.

That’s pretty notable character development for a bit character, and darn convenient, because it nicely sets up the premise for this episode: have Kyousuke find the thing Kirino wants most.

Kirino is incredibly defensive about Kyousuke's sarcastic reference to being his girlfriend

This consumes the first third of the episode, until Kuroneko figures it out: the one-of-a-kind figurine given to the winner of the official Stardust Witch Meruru cosplay contest. The problem: convince an otaku-hating, middle-school model to enter a cosplay contest.

That would be for an interesting episode, but Ayase shoots it down as quickly as Kyousuke suggests it. She has a better idea instead: trick one of her friends into doing it instead.

Typically catty and cruel, Kanako becomes a completely different person when she turns on the cutesy charm

And so, we come to meet one of the most interesting characters in the show: Kanako Kurusu, or Kanakana, as she goes by on stage. Kanako is an aspiring pop idol who can cop an amazingly cute demeanor when on stage, but most of the time is rude, crass, and more than a little arrogant about her obvious talents.

She’s also extremely pissed to be stranded in downtown Tokyo in a Meruru costume, but enough of a(n aspiring) pro to adopt the persona, belt out a pitch-perfect rendition of the Meruru theme song, and win the contest handily. Even though she finds the drooling otaku fans completely gross, she loves their praise and adoration.

The resolution might be too small, but this Meruru porn comic is titled "comet * Prostitute" I don't know why, but I find it hilarious

Kanako is a caricature of another common otaku obsession: the pop idol (or voice actress; there is a surprising amount of overlap between the two). Her public persona is cute and bubbly, but in private she’s exactly as cynical and jaded as you’d expect someone acting cute for attention to be.

Backstage, after winning the contest, Kanako explains that, as much as she despises otaku for drooling over her, she loves the way they adore her. She doesn’t understand the appeal of ‘moe‘, but it gets people’s attention and praise. As much as the otaku fans need an outlet for the social interaction and sexual frustration of their lonely existence, Kanako needs them to feel wanted.

I was kind of curious how the designers would represent a 2D character cosplaying another 2D character really well. It turns out, they basically punted, by slightly changing the colors

In some ways, it’s like a relationship with a two-dimensional character in a dating game, or an anime. In both cases, the relationship is a distant one, with no direct, 2-way interaction, because in both cases the object of desire does not actually exist. In the case of a dating game, that’s because it’s impossible to have a two-sided relationship with a fictional character.

In idol worship, any close contact might destroy the idol’s persona and, therefore, the illusion she’s trying to project. The needs of both parties are best served by leaving the other alone: the fan gets to believe in the perfection of cuteness or whatever ideal the idol is trying to portray, and the idol can remain blissfully ignorant of the true nature of her fans, shielding herself from anything negative they might say about her.

The male otaku are, as always, as creepy-looking as possible

I’m impressed that a show about otaku is being honest about these things, albeit briefly, even if it mystifies me. This isn’t the only bit of brutal honesty, either. As usual, any male otaku are portrayed exactly as the negative stereotypes the show spent its first few episodes defending. The male otaku are ugly freaks to a man, poorly dressed and leering and cheering at the girls on stage.

Oreimo is a show at once brutally honest and yet apologetic about the uncomfortable parts of otakudom. It’s eager to paint otaku as gross, perverted, antisocial maladroits while creating characters that are manifestations of the masturbatory fantasies of otaku. Kananko might be an exception (although you can see her as a rarer, less cute form of tsundere), but every other female character has been tailor-made for otaku lust.

Making fun of fat cosplayers in revealing costumes is a tradition that transcends culture, it seems

That’s the weird paradox at the heart of the show: it’s obviously made with such love and care that it doesn’t make sense as a cynical dismissal of otaku.

Everything from the character designs to the voice acting has been meticulously arranged and produced, making it one of the most well-made shows this season. If the show is a hit (and I think it has been), then it is acclaim that’s well-deserved, despite its unabashed pandering to the same fans it isn’t afraid to jab at.

Here's the figurine Kanako won, destined to be yet another piece of Kirino's collection of Meruru junk

Although it’s not like the long history of otaku anime isn’t full of similar self-loathing. For every show that tries to make otakudom seem normal by having average, ordinary people interested in their hobbies (or extraordinarily awesome people, as is the case with Oreimo), there’s another that perpetuates the very same ugly stereotypes that the first category is trying to change. It’s just somewhat rare to see both in one series.

Anyway, this tension makes for interesting viewing in what would otherwise be a fairly standard, if well-executed comedy series. Well, that and the weird incestuous subtext to Kirino and Kyousuke’s relationship, which is only going to get more explicit (and awkward) as the series wraps up.

You can watch the episode here.

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