Home > Episode Reviews, Oreimo > Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai (There’s No Way My Little Sister Can Be This Cute) Episodes 11 and 12 – There’s No Way Bear Could Make the Title For this Post any Longer than it Already Is

Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai (There’s No Way My Little Sister Can Be This Cute) Episodes 11 and 12 – There’s No Way Bear Could Make the Title For this Post any Longer than it Already Is

I’ve spent almost a year writing about awful fan-service anime, riddled with strange fetishes, confusing, tortured writing, and more badly censored nudity than I care to think about. I did it originally because I wanted to make fun of terrible shows, but it quickly turned into a strangely serious look at otaku and the social factors at play in the making of these derivative, mindless shows.

Oreimo will hopefully be the last show like this I cover. Part of the reason is that I think I’ve already said everything I want to say about otaku culture, and I don’t want to be repetitive in my criticism. There’s nothing worse than a writer with an ax to grind who tries to work his pet peeve into every conceivable topic.

There’s another reason, though: I think that I might be becoming desensitized to this awfulness. I mean, people are pretty good at adapting: if you surround yourself with anything, no matter how twisted or horrible, sooner or later it’s going to seem pleasant and familiar, or at least bearable.

One last picture of the whale slippers

Last week, after watching an episode of something on the anime streaming site Crunchy Roll, I started watching another show called “Good Luck! Ninomiya-kun”. I kid you not, I clicked on it because the character designs looked familiar and I thought an old show I had watched before was being released for streaming. Nope, never seen it; I just mistook the character designs for something else because they were so ridiculously generic.

Ninomiya-kun is yet another high school harem comedy based on a light novel series, like Mayoi Neko Overrun, Asobi ni Iku Yo! and Oreimo. The production values are almost comically bad, but for some reason I kept watching.

It wasn’t totally formulaic: the show was even more ridiculous and nonsensical than most in the genre, and there were some interesting inversions of typical conventions, but it wasn’t a good show by any means. It wasn’t something you’d want to actually watch.

Kuroneko makes a manga which stars a brother and sister that look very similar to Kirino and Kyousuke. They may feature underwear-sniffing

And yet, before I knew it I had finished the eighth episode, which means I’d spent almost four hours watching it. That’s four hours I could have spent doing any number of more useful and edifying things than watching a show in which a girl with breasts the size of cantaloupes is considered flat-chested.

So, take this review with a grain of salt, because I have apparently acclimated to bad anime. I’m going to say some positive things about Oreimo, a show whose main character is perfect in every way the creators can conceive of, including her completely inexplicable romantic love of her older brother. Are they true? Is this really a good show? Man, I don’t even know anymore.

Up to this point, Oreimo has not had what you might call “a strong narrative”. Broadly speaking, the show has been about Kirino becoming more comfortable with her otaku nature, with the help of “life counseling” from her older brother, Kyousuke.

All she needs is glasses, and she'll have the complete odd anime fetish set

But that’s been a largely static process. At the end of every episode, Kyousuke might have made himself look like a creepy pervert (because that’s how this show views male otaku), but rarely had anything of substance changed. Kirino was still unappreciative, bratty, and self-entitled, and Kyousuke was still vaguely bothered but supportive of her closeted love of anime and dating games.

That changes in these two episodes. Kirino is so jealously put out by Kyousuke having his childhood friend (and secret admirer), Manami, over, that she tries to sabotage their relationship, putting a dating game on a laptop in his room, and porn magazines (featuring girls with glasses like Manami) all over his bed.

Kyousuke is too distracted by the dating game Kirino left open in his room to notice the porn laying on his bed

This weirds Manami out, which gets Kyousuke honestly angry at his sister. So Kirino and her friends throw a party to try to cheer him up, which goes hilariously awry for half an episode, where Kirino apologizes and thanks him for his help these past few episodes. She also gives him a present.

That present is a dating game. Kirino’s attitude towards her brother might be softening, but she’s still selfish and oblivious to what other people care about.

Female otaku don't fare nearly as badly at the hands of the animators as the male otaku do

So, it’s not much progress, but I guess it’s something. More importantly, it also makes slightly more explicit the notion that it has been subtly hinting at for a few episodes now: that Kirino has feelings for her brother that go beyond mere sisterly affection. It’s expressed in a girlish, immature way, but then again, Kirino is pretty girlish and immature.

That, along with her feelings towards her brother, is made even clearer in the final episode. In what Kirino assures her brother will be their final “life counseling” session, she asks him to go wait in line at a midnight launch of a dating game in the city for her.

After he returns, she has some news for him: she’s leaving in the morning to study abroad in America and work with a track coach. Despite all this, she clearly wants him to ask her not to go. Not because she doesn’t want to go, but because she wants him to want her not to go.

When the laptop falls to the floor, it plays a sound clip of the girl asking her brother to tell her not to go. It echoes Kirino's inner thoughts

But in the end, he’s supportive of her and the decision she makes. She decides not to go at the last minute, and makes it very clear that it’s totally not because of him, but they both know it is.

So, Oreimo makes the already awkward hinting at incest even more explicit in its final two episodes. Then why do I like them so much?

It may be because these episodes are honestly funny, especially episode 11. The plans Kirino and her friends have to cheer up Kyousuke, and the way they fall apart because of their own selfishness or inability to understand what a normal person would like are all very entertaining, and Kirino’s attempts to sabotage Kyousuke’s relationship with Manami earlier are funny, as well.

The show also continues to be made with an incredibly amount of attention and care. There are a lot of little details that make the characters as more than the stock anime archetypes they are, and make them not just good interesting comic characters, but likable. And if a show in the weird anime genre that consists entirely of making its characters as likable (and therefore marketable) as possible can sell me, then it’s either very well-made or I’ve gone in way too deep.

Either way, I need to detox. Hopefully there won’t be a second season to drag me back in.

You can watch the episodes here.

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Categories: Episode Reviews, Oreimo Tags: , , ,
  1. January 25, 2011 at 11:22 am

    The inner conflict you’re having, I guess, is how to separate the “bad” (ecchi, incest) elements of Ore no Imouto with the “good”. You’ve described a lot of the good, compelling aspects of this show already. The comedy is oftentimes well-wrought, and the social commentary on otaku culture is usually spot on.

    I think the writing is more punchy than most other harem shows I’ve seen. At their best, Ore no Imouto’s writers avoid the common anime conceit of rote expository voice-overs or monologues. It’s more entertaining when a character’s motivations and thought processes aren’t entirely clear. Most of Ore no Imouto’s characters have a certain refreshing ambiguity: We are compelled to learn more about them, even if we suspect their attributes are no different from the stock anime characters they discuss.

    However, I don’t show Ore no Imouto to everyone. I don’t show it to almost anyone, in fact. Your “first impressions” review was spot on: My knowledge of the taboo nature of the show, of my complicit embarrassment in watching it, made me identify with Kirino even more. The best satires (I’m beginning to suspect) are the ones that make the viewer complicit, that force the viewer to first approve of what is then critiqued.

    Ore no Imouto is that kind of a satire: It titillates as it creates tension. It disparages as it delivers. Is it effective? Who knows? I just know that I couldn’t stop watching. If only, as I am quick to explain to close friends, as an anthropological study.

  2. Andrew
    July 20, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    there is a second season, go watch it 😛
    The second season is funny as well, but you will get a better understanding of things if you see gameplay of the shows dating sim, but watch the kirino route, it is funny. the awkward moments between kirino and kyouske are funny as hell. What I have noticed about the romance genre of anime is that a lot of them involve incest although the majority of the ones I have seen the brother and sister are not related by blood.

  3. July 20, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    I watched the second season. It’s a worthy successor to the first, although it continued to focus very heavily on the relationship between Kyosuke and Kirino, despite there not being a lot going on there. It’s mostly the kind of “will they won’t they” nonsense that’s so common in anime romances, but applied to a brother sister dynamic. The finale does a good job of not going the incest route, but I really wish they’d focused more on the side characters. Unlike Kirino, most of them actually have character arcs, and they tend to be way more interesting.

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