Oreimo: Brothers, Sisters, Boobs, Sex
By Heather Nichols, Tawfik Zone Contributor
“Ore no imouto kawaii wake ga nai” My little sister can’t be this cute (this is not going where you think!)
I’ll admit I watched this show completely by accident. It was on crackle and I was drawn in by the art style despite not knowing exactly what the title translated to. I saw the words sister and cute and just figured it had to be about a magical girl… yeah no it’s not.
Ore no imouto kawaii wake ga nai or Oreimo for short is a slice-of-life comedic anime that is not only entertaining, but also a clever commentary on the whole anime culture. It’s based off of a popular Japanese dating simulator which is a type of video game where the player (typically male) has the option of courting several women, the harem. In a majority of them, this leads to explicit sex scenes when you win the affection of one of the females. However, this game does have homoerotic and reverse-gendered harems geared towards gays and women.
One of the more popular sub-genres is the imouto, where the main character is in pursuit of his younger sister. Sometimes she’s adopted, other times… yeah that’s why people have a hard time approaching this series, but let me assure you, the first season does not delve into that territory.
I went to Connecticon and this show came up more than once. The first time it was brought up was at a panel where the guest was asked if there was a show they would flat out never watch. The second was at a Female Representation in Anime panel where yours truly stated how the show digressed from a very thoughtful first season into a really horrid season two that threw all character development out the window in favor of harem topes and concluded with possibly one of the worst endings I have ever seen.
The show’s two main protagonists are sister and brother Kirino and Kyosuke Kosaka, who used to be close when they were young but grew apart to the point where they literally never speak to one another. The reason to this is hinted at in season one and finally confirmed in season two, perhaps the only scene worth watching from that abomination, but I digress. Kyosuke is the typical male slacker who just does what he needs to get by, while Kirino in contrast is an outstanding student in junior high, star athlete, and part time model.
One day Kyosuke finds an erotic dating sim on the floor of his house which turns out to belong to Kirino. This leads to him finding out that she is a closet Otaku (a fanatic generally associated with anime and often regarded with negative connotation). Knowing full well that if her friends find out about her hobbies, especially her penchant for little sister dating games, she will be shunned. She confides in her brother to keep her secret. At which point he realizes how lonely she feels not being able to be true to herself and tries to help her out by getting her into contact with other girls who share her interests.
This leads to her meeting the Otaku girls club and leaves us with a rather predominantly female cast. As this is also based on a dating sim, this makes some sense. However the harem aspects are very subdued in the first season as it only seems like 2-3 of the girls are actually into Kyosuke, none of which are Kirino, though she does interfere quite a bit. The way I see this is finding out her secret was the gateway back to having reestablished a connection with her brother and if he starts dating he’ll go back to ignoring her. Her feelings towards him don’t really allude to romance in the first season. In the second season, uggggghhhh…
As I said before, Oreimo is really quite profound in showing the side of being enamored with anime in a way most Western audiences are oblivious to. Fans in the States often refer to each other as Otakus affectionately without really understanding what it truly means. And Kirino’s attraction to the little sister genre is weird, I’m not going to lie, but it initially makes some sense. She idolized Kyosuke growing up and thought of him as the ideal brother; the protagonist of these games is the ideal older brother so I don’t think it’s about playing it for the sex, but rather wanting a happy ending to her own story.
Not that she wants to date her brother, she just wants a relationship with him where he looks out for her and she can talk to him. I mean literally the two are not speaking to each other at the start of the series and it’s implied that they haven’t in years, possibly because of a girl, which also adds to why Kirino is not a fan of him dating. All in all season one is well written, funny, and has got great commentary which it does in a self-aware way. Oh, and sit through the opening and ending sequences. Why? That’ll make more sense about halfway through the series.
Season two… as much as I’d like to continue to pretend this doesn’t exist there is Oreimo 2, which was highly anticipated for years after the first series premiered. All the female characters, even if they weren’t in the slightest bit interested in Kyosuke in season one, all of a sudden have it bad for him so basically it’s an animated dating sim where all the women are throwing themselves at him. So we’ve gone from a profound slice-of-life commentary to just a giant mess that disregards established characters in favor of making them bend to the harem arc-types.
It’s barely watchable and then it goes into that uncomfortable territory… I don’t want to touch that with a ten foot pole… If you’ve been here this long I don’t even need to say what happens, just trust me on this one the two series should be counted as separate and the second should be put in a landfill like the ET video game for the Atari home system. Yes, I have that much distain for it.
Season one is currently available on crackle, hulu and crunchyroll for free. There is an alternate ending to season one which is harder to find, but there are ways… You can skip season two. Really, just pretend it doesn’t exist.