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.
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.
On the surface, this episode seems like a tiny bit of filler in the middle of the season. That’s exactly what it is. The main plot is about Kirino playing a new dating game, and the B plot consists of watching Kuroneko go about a typical day, pretending to be an agent of darkness while helping her family out with chores.
In addition, though, it confirms some suspicions I’ve had about Kirino. She may be a female otaku, but she’s still an otaku. And one of the defining characteristics of otaku in modern anime is a sexual attraction to animated characters.
Every so often in these posts, I’ve commented that Oreimo is going to get worse. I’ve been referring to these episodes, which are unquestionably the low point of the series. However, these are also the episodes in which I began to have a modicum of respect for the show.
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.
When I last wrote about Oreimo, many days ago, I mentioned that not only did it have an obnoxiously bratty closeted otaku 14-year old as its main heroine (and thus object of desire), but that it did a horrendously bad job at defending otaku hobbies, particularly for a show which seems to exist mostly for that purpose. These episodes continue with both of those trends, and somehow manage to make Kirino seem even more irredeemably awful despite refusing to acknowledge her awful behavior, and continue to be pretty bad otaku apologia.
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.