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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.