Director: Hiroyuki Kanbe
Writer (of original novel): Tsukasa Fushimi
Animation Studios: AIC Build
Version Watched: Subbed
I remember when the internet exploded over Oreimo’s ending. There were a few possibilities for what could have happened that would have at least satisfied a portion of the show’s audience; unfortunately none of those options were chosen and as a result many viewers felt betrayed. However, Oreimo was still a very enjoyable show and it would be a shame if you chose to avoid it because of the reactions of others. While it’s predominantly composed of the usual slice-of-life type content, there are enough differences that make it a tad more unique than its counterparts in the same genre.
Kyosuke hasn’t really spoken to his sister, Kirino, in years. Nearing the end of his time at high school, he barely considers the two of them to be related. She’s rude, she’s arrogant and she outshines him in every way. While she may be a model and high school idol by day, Kyosuke doesn’t know that at night her thoughts are consumed by hobbies that no one would ever dream of her having. Anime, video games and visual novels fill her with joy and fulfilment, as she lives in her own little world late into the night. There are sides to Kirino that her older brother has never seen before, and when he stumbles upon one the others might just follow.
Alright, let’s get this out of the way straight off the bat: A dislike for the idea of incest is not a valid reason to avoid watching Oreimo. I’m not going to elaborate on that; you’ll just have to trust me (or send me a message somewhere and ask me about it). In any case, it’s one of the factors that makes the show unique. Yes, a decent amount of Japanese productions feature a younger sister character but very few of them decide to tackle sibling relationships as a major issue. Being a comedy rather than a drama, Oreimo doesn’t do a terribly comprehensive job of exploring the topic but it’s there and it’s different and that’s good. The other immediately novel feature is the focus on Otaku culture. Again, the plot points raised by it are more shallow than deep, though drawing parallels between my own hobbies and their effect on my life, and what was going on in the show, was incredibly entertaining at times.
As far as its more normal components go Oreimo winds up somewhere on the border of good and average overall. Though the comedy was enjoyable it wasn’t special compared to other series and the plot doesn’t really advance in a meaningful way until the second season. As I mentioned earlier there were two main directions the series could have taken at its conclusion. Both would have been inflammatory in their own way, though I believe that would have been preferable to what was really a cop-out ending that failed to appeal to its viewers. It didn’t quite ruin the series as I had been led to believe it would but it certainly wasn’t as satisfying as it could have been. However, as I also said earlier, I don’t think that means you should avoid the series altogether.
Oreimo has a very strong cast of characters. There’s a lot of variety to them and they have a complexity that brings them beyond the normal stereotypes you might expect (except for the protagonist; he’s more or less your usual main character material in that he’ll take pretty much any abuse from the main heroine and still be willing to lick their boots). Unfortunately, given how the story pans out, the quality of the characters doesn’t add as much to the experience as it might in another anime. Apart from one or two “origin” episodes, most of the non-main characters seem to be more of an afterthought than anything else. Oreimo tries to bring them all back into the spotlight in its last few episodes but even that seems half-hearted due to its brevity. Whether this also happens in the source material or whether it’s an artefact of the adaptation, I’m not entirely sure. One other thing I have to mention is that the protagonist seems rather inconsistent at times. Kind, caring and considerate for much of the show, he suddenly becomes the “pervert” that many anime males are accused of being for flashes of time, and during those periods I was acutely aware of how out of character it seemed for him.
Most series have one or two opening and ending sequences throughout their 12 or 24 episode runs. Oreimo gets major props here for have new EDs after every episode and OPs that change as the story progresses. The visuals are of a notably high quality, with good character designs and outfits. Considering its name of “My Little Sister Couldn’t Possibly Be This Cute” I was pleasantly surprised by how little fan service showed up. I’m not a hater of fan service but I do think that anime with less of it tend to be better overall. I have no concerns regarding either the voice acting or the soundtrack (heck, the OPs are ridiculously catchy).
Summary: Oreimo is a normal slice of life series with a few extra features to differentiate itself from other similar shows. It’s not an amazing experience but the production quality is high and I would be surprised if you didn’t laugh out loud at some point while watching it and become attached to one or more of the characters. Despite the issues it has in the way it handles its cast, its ending and how shallow it is overall, I enjoyed it and think it’s worth the time it takes to watch.
Score: 8/10 – Good
Since I think it’s an interesting issue, I’ve decided to include a comment I made a while ago on the subject of incest in anime:
“While i’m an only child and therefore don’t have any real experience to go with, I can imagine loving a little sister and wanting to protect her. Moving into romantic feelings, however, would be unthinkable for me personally. Though I know this is a cliché, love is not something that can be controlled and it is therefore entirely possible for a legitimate relationship to develop between siblings. It’s not societally acceptable for various reasons, but a genuine, loving, consensual relationship between two such people very much has the potential to occur. It’s unlikely, yes, but for that reason I feel that it isn’t right to discriminate against possible couples, because who are we to dictate that no such relationship could be worthwhile?”