This is review number three hundred and twenty nine. This anime is part of the Fall 2010 lineup. The anime I’ll be reviewing is called Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai or “My Little Sister Can’t Possibly Be This Cute” or just OreImo since light novels are just stupid when it comes to titles. Anyways, it’s a sixteen episode anime, twelve for the main series and four for the ONA, about a guy having a crush on his little sister. It sounds sinister, but this anime is pretty family friendly and I’m sure a lot of people will enjoy it. I’m five years late on the bandwagon though, but screw that. Let’s read on.
This anime is about a guy named Kyousuke, who has a distant relationship with his little sister. Kirino is a model student, since she is star of the track team and she’s also a model. Her achievements easily overshadow any of Kyosuke’s, but it’s probably her clear disrespect to his big brother that should be noted. Kyousuke doesn’t care though, since he prefers a normal life surrounded by normal people. This all changed when he discovered his sister’s secret. After picking up an eroge siscon CD from the floor, and deducing it was his sister’s, Kyousuke suddenly became closer to her. Despite her perfect façade, she is actually an otaku and she loves “little sisters” since her collection consists entirely of them. Kirino wants Kyousuke to keep this a secret, but he soon discovers his little sister is lonely unable to share her love for her hobby with other freaks like her. It’s time for Kyousuke to step up, and decides to give Kirino some life counseling.
Taking the Pants Off
I remember this anime from awhile back when I first started this blog. My very first “big” season is the Spring 2012 lineup, and I hated the fact that I can’t finish it because it had season twos of certain shows. This is one of them, and I kept looking at its MAL page cursing its existence. Of course, I was a fool back then and I didn’t realize I can never complete a season cleanly. Between the long running kid shows, retarded ones like Shiba Inuko-san and shows that no fansubs pick up, completing a season is a futile and painful effort. In recent years, the seasonal list is becoming a big focal point though, so almost everything gets subbed now but I’ve lost motivation in completing a seasonal lineup. With the ramblings out of the way, I also remember not being utterly impressed with this anime as I curse its MAL page. It doesn’t strike me as interesting, and the characters just doesn’t really look all that great. The idea of siscon is actually something I’m interested in watching, and I can’t wait to watch Yosuga no Sora for that, but my otaku gut just isn’t sounding any bells. This is a pretty popular anime though, and I remember the hype since I was very much active, and unemployed, during the second season’s run. Is it really good? Given that it’s a light novel anime, I dunno, I’m really hesitant to try it. This is the second most voted anime in my poll right now, so I guess that motivated me to try this anime. You can express your hate for this review in the comments below, but I don’t really see the big deal. After watching the first season, my otaku gut is right. It isn’t really anything special. Maybe I missed the appeal since I’m only scrutinizing the story structure and what not. I think the characters and the endless references got people excited, but really I don’t get the hype. While the show does have its moments, the overall experience is a bit dull. The characters are incredible standout, but I think the show relied on them too much. It didn’t buildup the story, and the theme is a bit muddled towards the end. Is it an accidental harem, or is it siscon bait? Can it be both? I think it tried, but it was just confusing in the end. The premise is pretty wonderful though, as we witness two siblings slowly become closer thanks to a special secret.
The anime is basically about Kyousuke helping her little sister with her otaku hobby. He goes leaps and bounds for her, and he slowly becomes a part of it as well. Surprisingly, this anime doesn’t really blatantly suggest that the two characters are hot for each other. Thank gawd for that. Instead, this anime is more of a salute to otaku pride with a little freaky siscon dynamic going on the sides. It is loaded with a lot of otaku things that’ll make you smile, as it gives a nod to its obsessive fandom and society’s commentary of said culture. The premise is made even better because our main characters have a beautiful chemistry between them. Kirino is like a defensive cat that doesn’t want to be petted, and she constantly abuses his big brother either physically or verbally. She’s not your typical little sister, and she’s paired with the cliché “go-with-the-flow” kind of light novel main character so there’s something beautiful presented immediately. It’s their cute banter that’ll really draw you into watching the show. Seeing Kirino go heavy tsun tsun while you are eagerly waiting for the dere, is pretty fun to watch and seeing Kyousuke do so much for her little sister will definitely bring a smile to your face. The first episode really hooked me because the presentation is very beautiful, as it indulges you in deep fandom talk while also presenting the sibling’s relationship as its centerpiece. You can tell it’s going to be pretty awesome.
The anime’s story structure is basically a “smooth and rough” style of storytelling. Light novel anime usually have a lot of the volumes of the original source crammed in, so they’re often just divided in the chapters per story arc. For OreImo, the story is quite different and pretty damn refreshing by the way. It just focuses on two plot points all throughout its fifteen episode run. It’s just about Kyousuke’s life counseling with Kirino and the show’s deep referencing of anime fandom. These two plot points are often combined though, as the progression is usually just done in a simple manner. It’s smooth and rough because the show alternate from conflict then resolution episodes, and then fluff episodes afterwards. For example, in the first episode, Kyousuke discovers Kirino’s secret and then helped her gain some friends. The smooth progression comes in the form of the characters having fun together, and Kirino going tsundere on Kyousuke. After that, the next episode will feature a problem that Kyousuke must fix, and it’s usually resolved in the next episode. After that, more fluff episodes follow and so on. This is the first time I actually saw a story structure like this, and I would like to point out that this is mainly the reason why I didn’t enjoy the show as much as others would. As a big fan of story progressions and pay offs you get from the show, the smooth and rough storytelling hampers the experience a bit. I’ll get on that later. For now, let’s talk about the two plot points of this anime.
The first plot point is about Kyousuke’s life counseling. Basically, Kirino is the perfect student who has a wonderful status at school and life. Her hobby of being into hentai visual novels about onii-chan’s assaulting their little sisters is something society deems too much. She’s deeply passionate about this hobby though, but her only option is to enjoy them in secret. When Kyousuke discovered her secret, Kirino wanted him to love her hobby as well. He then realized that she needs friends, and society needs to lighten up about incest, so he decided to help her. His life counseling is really just Kyousuke doing his damnest to make her sister smile. Since she can’t act on her own, he does her best to make her happy. He helped her find friends, and he also held her hand when close acquaintances slowly discover her secret hobby. He does more than support her, since Kyousuke really goes through hell just defending his sister’s hobby. He often does it at the expense of making himself look bad. This is actually what I liked about the anime. Never mind the siscon angle, since it’s the idea that someone will support your freaky hobby (even though the rest of the world shakes their head) that makes this anime special. We’ve honestly all been there. Okay, the blow is a bit softened now but back in the days, liking anime is seriously a weird hobby. The judging stares, the condescending whispers and the bullying comes with the package of being in love with anime. It wasn’t until the Philippines discovered hot girls that likes anime also does cosplay, did they lighten up about the issue. For the most part though, you were alone because everybody else doesn’t understand your love for anime. It would’ve been nice to have someone like Kyousuke around. He stands up to Kirino and her hobby in a wonderful manner, and he does it out of respect. I’m not sure if he has ulterior motives, like being into his sister, but he’s often just motivated because he knows there’s nothing wrong with her hobby. Being an otaku is not such a bad thing, and Kirino is lucky because she has someone open minded enough to understand that.
The depiction of being an otaku is one thing, but the anime also gives a handful of things coming from society as well. It doesn’t stick to one side as pro or anti otaku. It presents both sides, and each side has their own valid argument to present. In the anime, Kyousuke defends Kirino’s hobbies from the prejudice that comes with the words “otaku” and he fights the negative perception of it. The show also shares the lighthearted side of being in the fandom with the bright interaction between Kirino and her otaku friends. It also features the cute and the obsessive aspect of it, but also the negative aspect of it. I’d consider it a raw form of storytelling where it’s up to the audience to decide if lining up for a hentai visual novel at 12 midnight is normal or too much. There are more negative aspects though like otakus being in the news, and it does make you think about the fandom in general. Of course, there’s only a small negative aspect presented since this anime is really just one big ball of otaku love. As the show progress, the fluff episodes mainly focus on the odd world of being an otaku and the cute aspect of it. From attending conventions to hanging out in cafes, it shows a rather normal depiction of otaku culture but in an endearing way. It presents the fandom in the story but doesn’t really glorify it, since the focus is more on the characters. That doesn’t mean the fandom isn’t as grand as it is in the show though, since the second plot point is dedicated entirely to it.
The second plot point is the references littered throughout the show, and the lively depiction of the fandom. This anime has a lot of smart references tucked in the story, and only real die hard otakus can spot them. From popular visual novels popping in the background to popular anime being referenced in the show, they really add a lot to the experience. You can tell the creators are big otaku nerds as well, and they showered this anime with a lot of their love. It’s pretty awesome. There are even some hard to spot ones like characters suddenly blurting out catchphrases and small cameos to the far side of the screen. I bet a real Japanese otaku, who is drowning in anime, will smile at the references because he knows it’s placed there especially for him. I managed to spot some as well like Kirino’s favorite anime. It’s clearly Lyrical Nanoha, since it also has that sexualized lolicon thing that made Nanoha popular among grown men. I can also tell that Kuroneko’s favorite anime is a rip on Code Geass, since a Lelouch character makes a small appearance in the opening sequence, and I believe Saori also dropped some Gundam references in some of her random tirades. This is a plot point for the show because it really covers more than half of the content of this anime. It might not technically be part of the story, but the anime clearly embodies the fandom spirit, and constantly presents the beautiful and odd world of being an otaku. From fighting over how an anime is good or bad, chatting on message boards, getting 100% on your VN game, fangirling when you get the best ending, hanging out in Akihabara, to waiting in line for special products, the fandom spirit is alive and thriving in this anime. The fluff episodes are especially interesting since it has a lot of otaku stuff in it, and it makes the slow episodes interesting despite not having any big effect on the story.
The story has one big flaw though, and it’s a pretty basic one: it lacks build up. Most shows layer the story with things going on in an episode that’ll lead to an exciting climax or a satisfying ending. OreImo doesn’t possess that, and you’ll notice a lot of events are sloppily presented out of nowhere. You won’t notice this though, but it’ll soon ruin the experience. It did for me, since I kinda liked the premise and it didn’t really progress as great as I’d expect it. A good example of the story’s lack of buildup would be when Kirino suddenly started doing a cellphone novel, and then it was suddenly turned into an anime. From a fluff episode to something so unexpected, the story turns loose towards the second half of the show. It could’ve been presented in a much better way, and while I know the whole point of that event is to point out the frustrations of studios butchering when it comes to adaptations, it could’ve been more properly presented. I think the fault lies in the original source though, but I’m not really sure. A lot of memorable moments are haphazardly presented, since it just happens without notice and it makes the moment pretty tame compared to the impact it could’ve had if there was proper buildup to it. I was kinda disappointed when Kirino’s best friend suddenly discovered she was an otaku. After a cute fluff episode, it just happened and then it went away as quickly as it came. In just two episodes, Kirino’s relationship with her best friend is suddenly spotlighted and immediately altered with no proper fleshing out to it. I can imagine the moment being a lot more disastrous if we could’ve had a chance to gauge her best friend’s response to otakus. It was mentioned slightly in one episode, but she went f*cking yandere on us. It deserved proper build up, and it’s a shame there was none. The smooth and rough storytelling eventually hurt the anime in the end, when the last conflict was presented. With no buildup, the shocking twist didn’t really mean much. Instead of a ground shattering turn of events, it was more like your table shaking because your cat is just scratching his back. The ending also doesn’t have a satisfying pay off because of the lack of proper layering for the story. It was a joyous moment but it was subdued, because I don’t think anything can recover after three episodes of yaoi jokes. I give points for the double ending though.
The story might be sitting on some tranquilizer darts, but one thing ultimately saved it. This one element really made the anime special, and covered up what the story was lacking. I’m talking about the characters. They made this anime an awesome experience because of how well presented they are. There is no character development to point out, maybe a little for Kirino but nothing really major. The bounty of the characters is from their backstory and the rich relationships they have. Seeing Kirino and Kuroneko fight about Merumeru being a trash anime is a pretty golden moment for the show. We don’t really know who Kuroneko is at this point in the anime, but her banter with Kirino made us instantly love her. The story’s main flaw is really made up by the awesome collection of characters, and the cute relationship they have with each other. I mean, they’re pretty cliché by themselves but the show has ways to make them special. They shine best during the fluff episodes, because it often just explores the characters with no real relation to the story. My personal favorite is the episode where Kyousuke and his childhood friend spent the day together, and the show explored their wonderful relationship that honestly made me smile. It was f*cking perfect. For that one episode alone, the show presented a different side to it that anyone can really appreciate. Of course, there are those otaku heavy themed ones like Kirino and her friends going out to Akihabara as well. With the fandom love in full display, the characters make the episode special just being the eccentric that they are, and the show smartly covers up the fact that the episode is just the characters attending comiket with no real important plot development. Lucky Star did it too, and it’s pretty much the same since I bet you didn’t care it was just the characters making rounds in that big event.
The characters themselves are pretty decent. They aren’t really all that great by themselves, but the show smartly utilizes them. As I said, Kyousuke is just your typical light novel character that goes with the flow. He’s the “I don’t care” type that internalizes everything and entertains everyone, and his good guy attitude eventually gets him on the good side of the female characters. Light novel is always bound by wish fulfillment so the typical good guy being close to the cute girl will always be a staple. I’m watching shows from 2010 as well as 2015, and this staple remains constant. He is a very effective main character though, because of how he protects his sister. His cool moments are absolutely the best, since he usually ends up making himself look bad just to make his sister look good. The show also gradually converts him into a siscon fanatic as well, so it’s funny how the dark side is slowly welcoming him with cookies. Reading between the lines is pretty fun for this anime, since the incest element is tucked between the folds. Nothing too blatant, but the glances of admiration and the cute little gesture seem to entertain that siscon thing. Kirino is probably the only character that feels too farfetched for this anime though. She’s a model, an athlete and an otaku. We never really get a good chance to be convinced of this, since she’s a hard to read character. That’s her appeal, but it makes her pretty one dimensional. The anime focuses on Kyousuke a lot, so she needs a lot of scenes to really convince us she can be a socialite, a competitive person and a shut-in in one fell swoop. I think the anime considered this as well, and just didn’t even try. Her 100% tsun attitude is adorable though. She would swat Kyousuke’s hand away when he tries to touch her, she would show disappointment whenever she sees him and she kicks his door just because, and it makes her such a wonderful character. You don’t need to figure her out, since her quirks easily make her a fun person.
The rest of the cast is pretty decent as well, but the small things make the biggest difference. I love Kyousuke’s childhood friend because of how in sync they are with each other. Saori is a shocker because she’s a mega otaku, but she is also a tall beauty. Gawd, I hope we get to see her hot version in the second season. Even Kyouske’s father is a great standout because of how authoritative yet cute he is. I’m going to dedicate this paragraph to the show’s scene stealer though, and it’s none other than Kuroneko herself. I love this character a lot. She’s pretty blunt and she doesn’t mince her words. She speaks like a true troll on the internet forums, and her voice makes her insults sound so adorable. She’s incredibly tsundere as well, since her friendship with Kirino is so hot and cold that you can’t help but fawn all over it. She’s more direct with her feelings though as oppose to Kirino, so it makes her a more tolerable character compared to Kirino. Her interaction with Kyousuke is also pretty great, especially during the true end ONA, as she has a more direct approach with him. She can even flirt with him, and I love her for that.
It’s weird watching a light novel anime from five years ago. I can definitely see the appeal of light novel anime. They serve as wish fulfillment, but it also knocks on a part of the reader. The struggles of being an otaku, and hoping someone like Kyousuke would be there for you sound like a wonderful thing to tell. It makes me worry, because that means someone out there really wanted Mahouka to have a perfect character because they want to be worshipped like him as well. Oh boy, that just sounds upsetting. But SAO has a desire for hardcore gamers to develop a relationship within the game, To Aru explores the idea of being normal and the thoughts of being special, Shana shares the pain of all the invisible nobodies out there and the desire to have a meaningful life so I think this is the concept that makes light novels great. Of course, they veer off course as more volumes are produced but I think the fans are reeled in at that point. I always think light novels became saturated as the years passed, but nothing has changed, really. The wish fulfillment just got more prominent, and the part about sharing a piece of its reader becomes a minor element. I won’t find a good excuse for accidental harems though. It was in this anime as well, but it was subtle. Good gawd, the changes five years can do.
Anyways, this anime is presented to us by AIC Build. They’re a baby company of the media giant, AIC. I think AIC has five baby companies, and they all make anime or something. AIC Build focuses mainly on light novel adapted shows, and they’re all oddly the same. Aside from OreImo, they have Haganai and “Love, Elections and Chocolates” which are also decent shows focusing more on the characters. I think OreImo is their biggest hit though. They should do more shows. AIC is a big company, and they should be shoving out more anime like any of the major companies. I’m not really sure why they have five baby companies though, but maybe different people own them so the money doesn’t really flow through. Each company is left to fend for itself, but I’m not sure. AIC in general just make four or five shows in a year, so maybe they just can’t afford to push more titles. The second season is even snatched away by A-1 Pictures so that’s pretty sad. This anime is directed by Hiroyuki Kanbe, and he has literally only done two series in his directorial career. Both seasons of OreImo, and Ore Twintails ni Narimasu, about magical girls with twintails. Mother of gawd, I wanna watch that. He lacks experience in storytelling, but that can be improved with time. He balanced the show out with the references and the characters, and that maybe the reason why A-1 Pictures brought him back for the second season. He has potential so I hope he keeps directing. He has a distinct style I would love to see him master.
Sight and Sound
Hiro Kanzaki designed the characters. His design is pretty simple for this anime, since it doesn’t really stand out that well. It’s properly conceived, but it lacked some certain details to really elevate it. It could also be AIC’s crappy color palette though, because I do like the faces of the characters. He also made sure the design fits the personality of the characters, like Kirino having an annoyed face all the time highlighted by her different colored hair. The design of the face is something pretty nice because they look big with emphasis on the cheeks. It could’ve been a lot better though, and the outfits lacked certain flair to it. The personalities are great stands out though, but it would’ve been nice to see the design match their awesomeness. I do like Merumeru’s design. It’s not much but it captured that creepy lolicon aspect of Lyrical Nanoha, and helped deliver the reference in a smart manner. I think the references are really where the character design shines because it’s a blatant rip of popular works. There are things like Gundams, Code Geass and other sort of goodies littered all throughout the show. They’re a lot more memorable than the main character designs, but I do think that was the point of the references. It makes you go “oh, I know that” but they should’ve put effort on the main characters as well. This is a good case of the stereotypes really saving the characters, because the design just doesn’t cut it. I hear Hiro Kanzaki is a talented artist though. The color palette certain made a difference, because it looks more pleasing when you gaze at his artworks and how he blends color with bold lines.
The animation is pretty decent. It doesn’t really standout but I do love how the dialogue heavy scenes are as interesting as those fight scenes the character watch on TV. The animation gave justice to Kirino’s tsundere personality and her otaku mannerisms, because she’s often a big focal point in the show. There are some standout moments in terms of animation though, like the cosplay contest and those references bearing the same animation style as the ones they’re ripping off. For this show though, the facial expressions is probably where the animation truly shined. During dialogue scenes, it’s how the faces are animated that gives it a proper pace. Speaking of those talking scenes, I hate how the director constantly employs those stupid scenes of showing a character’s back when they’re talking to someone. While I do understand the style is to point out who they are talking to, it’s a bit overdone. I appreciate the free use of camera angles during dialogue scenes, but some are a bit overdone. It’s done by a first time director, and he did make sure it wasn’t boring dialogue, so I’d still give it a passing score. I think the original source trumped him a bit, but he still made something great out of the situation he was in.
The anime has a lot of ending songs. I think there’s a different one per episode and they’re sung by the different VAs of the anime. I won’t be going through them, but I will say a lot of them are pretty cute. The novelty of the particular character singing the song makes it special, and they all have that cute appeal to them. I didn’t listen to most of them but there are some great ones there. I think I liked the one sung by Saori’s VA. The anime’s OP is “irony” by ClariS. It’s a really wonderful song about two people having a complicated relationship. It’s more love song, but it does relate to the two main character’s relationship as well. I think ClariS is a duo but I honestly only hear one voice, and she sounds amazing. She gives a mature take on the song that I am really drawn to. The OP sequence features all the characters, but there’s a different one per episode depending on who appears in it. I love how they made effort to make every OP unique. It introduces the characters of those episodes, and a small montage about Kirino and Kyousuke. The animation is the best part of the OP, since it’s the most detailed of all even outdoing the show’s actual animation. The movements are smooth, and there are incredible flashy angles employed. It also captured the spirit of the anime by showcasing the characters and their cute relationship in that short amount of time.
7/10 “The characters and the fandom love is remarkable, but the story could’ve been better.”
I’m a fan of story, and I do think there is some missed potential when it comes to the plot. If it was presented better, then it could’ve elevated the experience a lot more. The characters and the references easily make this anime amazing though. It lacks memorable moments, but you won’t really miss it as you’re easily drawn to the vibrant characters. If you like shows with great characters then this anime is for you. If you love shows about the fandom then you’ll like this anime as well. It has a bit of incest, but I think all weird hobbies are presented so I’m sure people will enjoy that as well. This is an amazing anime that I’m sure anyone can truly get into. I recommend it.