Saikin, Imouto no Yousu ga Chotto Okashiinda ga Review

This is review number three hundred and forty five. This anime is part of the Winter 2014 lineup. The anime I’ll be reviewing is called “Saikin, Imouto no Yousu ga Chotto Okashiinda ga.” Or “Recently, my sister is unusual.” Or simply “ImoCho.” It’s a twelve episode anime about a girl forced to have sex with her step brother. It’s a pretty straight forward plot. Let’s read on.

Story

The anime follows a girl named Mitsuki possessed by a spirit. In order for the spirit to leave, Mitsuki simply has to sleep with her step brother. She doesn’t want to, but she actually has no choice. If the spirit’s wish isn’t fulfilled then Mitsuki will die with her. Mitsuki must now choice to live and have sex with her step brother, or simply don’t and die. It’s an easy choice to make, right?

Taking the Pants Off

Oh boy, an OreImo rip-off. The whole sister complex is already proven to have very little potential by the only show that has done it justice, so it doesn’t really feel right that we’re seeing another “imouto” themed anime. ImoCho is a surprising anime though, because it looks really good. It took the effort of trying to shrug what OreImo wouldn’t even dare try, and actually try and go for the gold. Yes, this show actually convinces you that little sister will be ruined by her big brother. It’s a daring move, and something I loved infinitely in this anime. Unfortunately, this anime promised so much but it couldn’t deliver on any of them. I’m not really sure myself what the hell went wrong, but I’ll be using this review to organize my own thoughts about this shoiw. It honestly started out good, because the premise is really great. The main idea of incest is finally tackled head on, and the narrative just sounds so amazing. In the first six episodes, you can actually feel the manga being represented greatly. The story is wonderfully done, and the experience is just outstanding. For some weird reason though, this crumbled right at the end. You start to notice the flaws of the anime, and then it slaps you with its disgraceful ending. The second half of this show really ruined it, and I’m amazed at how much it sucked considering it was already prepped for success. It handled the incest fairly, the characters are interesting and the story is ready to be developed. After episode six though, it’s like a flood came and slowly drowned this anime. It’s baffling, because this anime is a solid eight out of ten from episode one to six. It’s just so good, but then it sucked till the end. This should’ve been a great one, but it became tedious that I wouldn’t recommend to my worst enemy.

So anyways, this anime is about two step-siblings living together in the same house by themselves. The first episode set it up pretty decently. Their parents recently marry, and work stuff forced the couple to leave their two unrelated kids alone together. Everyone is trying to cope with the situation except for our little sister, Mitsuki Kanzaki. She is a moody little brat that simply hates her current living situation. She is forced to move into a new home with complete strangers, and people keeps asking her to just smile. She doesn’t want to, and she just acts cold towards everyone. One weird incident now forces her to be intimate with her step brother though. While walking from school, a spirit tries to take control of her body. She passes out, and then wakes up with a chastity belt she can’t remove. It turns out that the spirit needs her to ascend into heaven. Mitsuki must fill the gauge in the chastity belt that corresponds to the staircases the spirit needs to enter heaven. In order to fill the gauge, the spirit must be satisified…sexually. Mitsuki acts as her proxy, and the spirit has just one goal: to sleep with Mitsuki’s step brother. Yes, gawd damn it, Mitsuki is now forced kicking and screaming to have sex with her new brother. She obviously doesn’t want to, but having the chastity belt on for too long can spell trouble for her. If it’s on too long, she will die. This is the choice the show gives her. Have sex with your step brother, or your spirit will plunge into a dark abyss when the staircases that houses them vanish. Mitsuki will now pick to either perform one of the most usual scenarios in porn movies, or simply die. Yeah, she doesn’t really have a choice in the matter.

First of all, I love this premise. My first impression of the show is that it’s an OreImo rip-off. It’s one of those light novels that try an already proven concept, to make some quick money. I was ready to not be impressed by the anime. The first episode dispels my stubborn stance on the show pretty easily though. It promised big by taking the choice away from Mitsuki. She may not like it, but she will be ruined by her brother. This is the condition the show has setup for her. She cannot back out. It gets better though, because we have a chastity belt in this anime. This thing is introduced, by the way, by having Mitsuki forcefully felt up by the spirit. We opened the anime with a masturbation scene, and it was glorious. It obviously spells good things down the line when the show is already giving us the good stuff this early. But, wait, there’s more. There is also this exciting plot that is ready to slowly unravel in the following episodes. The living situations of the step siblings, the identity of the spirit that somehow knows who the stepbrother is, and the various steps to fill up the gauge are all amazing things that are part of the story. It is ambitious, but the first episode easily convinces us that this show knows what it’s doing. It’s not even playing around. All the lights are green for this incest to happen, and Mitsuki cannot Deus Ex Machina her way out of this story.

I think this is why the anime feels disappointing, because it promised something big. While I do know there is really no fudging way we will actually see the incest come to fruition, I just enjoy the idea that the anime will try to head in that direction. I don’t really want sex, but I want a story so good that it doesn’t need to have sex in it. This is the story ImoCho promised us. It promised a really solid story that knows what it really wants, and it’s already doing its best to achieve that desired goal. I love a show with ambition, because I rarely see it in anime. Reviewing three hundred forty plus anime only gives you the same tired formulas again and again. It comes to a point where you just know the show will fail, but you still watch it because you have to review it later on. ImoCho promised me, specifically, a great anime experience I will forever remember. It promised great stuff will happen if I just keep on watching. From episode two to six, I think the show really tried to stay on course. In the first half, the story focused on Mitsuki trying to get used to her unusual situation. Aside from being forced to wear the chastity belt, she also only has three minutes with her private parts. The chastity belt locks up her junk, but there’s a button that she presses to give her access to them. The twist is that she only has three minutes to do her business, and the belt locks again inaccessible for another hour. This means that peeing will be a problem for Mitsuki, and there’s an entire episode dedicated to that. The episode structure isn’t so fluff that it just focuses on peeing though, because a lot of things happen in one episode. In episode two, Mitsuki learns of the chastity belt’s functions and then she is introduced to the classic childhood friend that rivals her for stepbrother’s affection. The show isn’t d*cking around. It’s really trying to push as much exposition to make sure each episode is amazing.

This is the general vibe I got from the anime. It’s really pushing hard to produce great things, and I love it so much. The show does use some tired cliché to pump the story, but I don’t mind it. The way it’s shaping is up is really fun to watch, and it’s already delivering on what it’s promising. The incest is played really strong in the first half of the show. Along with the exposition, the show also dedicates a lot of time for Mitsuki to perv it up with her step brother. They were locked in a bathroom with her naked, the spirit took over her body so she can passionately hug step brother, the spirit would constantly flirt with step brother and there are loads of panty shots that involve the step brother getting a peak. There’s even a scene where Mitsuki pees in front of him, and it’s f*cking awesome. Well, yeah, the content is overly sexual but you have the first episode to turn away and run. The incest is really being fulfilled in this anime, and it’ll reach new heights of feeling uncomfortable. In the first half alone, we are already treated to countless perverted scenes involving the two characters. Constant panty shots, pee related moans and steady build up for the big brother to have an excuse to ruin her sister. The progression is so damn good that I am really impressed by it. It doesn’t have to really put incest in the story, but it’s actually dedicating time for it. It’s developing it, and it’s trying to make something amazing out of it. Things get better though, because the perverted elements never really overtake the show. It still has moments for the siblings to really talk it out and settle their relationships. After getting perverted with little sister, the step brother would usually just show genuine worry for his sibling. There are some slow adorable moments that really give us a good idea that they are siblings. There is also heart in the story, and it’s enough to really validate all the different intentions of the characters. Step brother wants to make his sister happy, Mitsuki is still not coping with her current living situation and the spirit is just a poor girl trying to get her final wish fulfilled. There is a good balance of story, character fleshing out and perverted scenes to really make the show special. It even comes to a point where the anime feels a bit too mean. You’re slowly realizing that incest really is a bad idea, and you wish the show would ease up on Mitsuki. It gives you moments of the characters being genuine, but the perverted scenes would f*ck with your mind. The show is so good that it convinces you that you actually don’t want incest. That’s how f*cking good this story is.  It’s legit good.

I think the initial theme of the anime is actually an anti-thesis of the wish fulfillment concept in general. It’s weird that the main character is Mitsuki and not the step brother. In most wish fulfillment anime, the step brother would be the one heavily featured and his situation is given more weight. In OreImo, even though the little sister has the lolicon complex, the big brother is still the focus. He looks out for his sister just as caringly as Mitsuki’s brother is, but the focus is different on ImoCho. Mitsuki is the main character, and the step brother is just this clueless d*ckhead getting some ass. He acts clueless, while Mitsuki is being treated unfairly by the story. It’ll eventually come to a point where the anime is too mean spirited. I was caught off guard by this line:

I mean, really. Given her situation, the spirit simply tells her to go and die. What the hell? I think this anime is mean because the whole idea of wish fulfillment is unfair. It puts the male character on a pedestal while the girls are being treated unfairly. The various perverted scenes that involve the siblings have the step brother treated to panty shots, a naked bathroom scene and a peeing scene. These scenes come at Mitsuki’s expense though. She clearly points out early on that she doesn’t like any of this. The perverted scenes have her act like a piece of meat while the step brother is getting some handful of wish fulfillment, and I love how the show can flip the script that perfectly. There is an underlying message of objectification, demeaning women and female dignity swept under the rug so the male character can have an erection. The mean spirited nature of the anime is trying to tell something really wonderful, and it’s doing it in such a great fashion. As I watch the show, I also realize that the masturbation scenes are at Mitsuki’s expense. She isn’t really being pleasured. She is actually being raped, but it’s subtle because the show wants the scene to be sexually charged as well. I would love to give this anime a medal for achieving a balance so great that the story, character and fan service is developed properly while it also delivers a though provoking message. This anime is hitting the right notes at the first half, so it really shatters me that I will now have to write negative stuff about it.

Before we get to the second half though, let’s talk about that BPO stuff in its wikipedia section. It reads “the show has become subject to a broadcast decency investigation in Japan by the Broadcasting Ethics and Program Improvement Organization, following concerns of sexually explicit themes which do not match the show’s television airing time slot on Tokyo MX and Sun TV.” It then has a hyperlink that leads to this. Apparently, this anime aired at a time where kids can still watch it. It should’ve aired at a later time, but the synopsis didn’t really include the words “masturbation” in it so it got an earlier time. I think the studio duped the station, and it got into a friendlier time slot or something. Either way, the stations has come under fire for airing such a questionable anime in a time that middle schoolers can see it. An investigation is started at the same time the second half aired, and then things slowly went to hell. You don’t really want to give the Ethics committee enough ammunition, so some things need to be done. Some corrections are needed to be made, and I think this affected the anime greatly. While there is an argument that parents should really tell their kids not to watch questionable content and there is also an argument that middle schoolers are probably exposed to so much more thanks to Mr. Internet, I think the people involved are spooked out of their minds when an investigation is launched on them because of this anime. This is serious sh*t, so I don’t blame them for having to tuck their tails and run. It saddens me though, because I now understand what kept the progressive content of Yosuga no Sora held back as well. It seems even Japan is not ready for this kind of progressive thinking. Looks like it has to settle with tentacle porn, it’s legal age of consent being thirteen and idols being kayfabe virgins suggesting its fans has a chance to bang them. Japan surprisingly has some lines it doesn’t want to cross, but I think it’s also deliberately jumping over them from time to time. It’s confusing.

Anyways, episode six ended with step brother thinking that little sister is actually a lesbian. He discovered the chastity belt, but he concluded that Mitsuki is just into crazy fetishes. He got to the lesbian idea because he saw the spirit violating Mitsuki as well. This means that the guy can now see the spirit, and things just took a more exciting turn. So how do you build up from this awesome lesbian story involving fetishes and dead people? Well a sports club episode, followed by a beach episode and the last episode being a hot spring episode. Yup. The promising anime featured nothing but fluff in the second half. It clearly doesn’t have the same energy as the first half, and you can tell it’s slowly trying to avoid the perverted incest route. The focus shifts to the other characters, and the buildup of the first half is simply abandoned. It got boring fast, and annoying as well. The anime promised so much but it’s now backing out of it all. The perverted scenes are suddenly tame, the story is crippled beyond recognition and the characters stalled. They suddenly become one dimensional, and they’re reduced to having a single role in the show. You no longer feel bad for Mitsuki because the subtle message of the show is also abandoned. The second half is embarrassingly pathetic compared to the first half. It really feels like the show betrayed you after a wonderful first half. The things it sets up were simply forgotten, and it really got retarded at some point.

One of the most annoying things about the second half is the subject of incest. Remember the whole “have sex with your step brother or plummet in a purgatory forever” angle? Obviously, this is no longer a go so how exactly will Mitsuki fill the gauge now? She simply gets aroused when big brother touches her. They pussyfoot the f*ck out of the concept. It is stated pretty clearly in the first half that the spirit can no longer satisfy herself with masturbation. It means that there is an escalating need to pleasure herself proxy Mitsuki. This no longer applies in the second half. She simply gets aroused by being close to step brother, and the gauge is filled easily. They Deus Ex machine the sh*t out of this promising concept, and it’s annoying since they pointed it early on as well that Mitsuki cannot be saved by Deus Ex Machina. The story barely moves but Mitsuki still gets to fill the gauge. You can tell effort is clearly abandoned, and they just mercifully want this show to end. This is a big shame, because I honestly wanted to know what happens next after the lesbian thing. Step brother suddenly sees the spirit, and the other girls in his life can somehow see the spirit as well. I feel like the second half is supposed to be about the spirit’s past. We are about to know who she is and why she wants to sleep with step brother. It feels like discovering the spirit’s past will lead to Mitsuki to lower her defenses around step brother. It feels like step brother took a huge loss when the spirit died, and it’s a great excuse to escalate the incest element. It gets better though, because the show also hinted that the odd girl that always reads the same book named Neko might actually be involved deeply in this whole mess. When she first appeared, the dialogue the step brother utters is “wait, who are you? Oh, you’re Neko” as if his memory is altered at that very moment. It is an odd scene, and it suggests that Neko is more than you expect her to be. She even talks to Mitsuki when she is a disembodied spirit, and it just suggests a lot of cool things related to the story. Instead of a gripping story though, we are treated to mind numbing fluff episodes. You don’t really have to alter the story heavily to make it work. If you cut out the incest and the masturbation related scenes, then you still have tons of exposition to go through. Mitsuki’s own journey into accepting her new family, the spirit’s past and the conspiracy surrounding the other girls can easily fill up the second half. You can even drop the whole chastity belt angle because we’re done talking about that. When you cut out the things the Ethics committee can crucify you for, you still have tons of content to talk about. The story didn’t have to take a hit this badly.

Unfortunately, it is what is. There’s really nothing we can do about it now. It’s also just speculation on my part if the BPO really did have an impact in the anime, because that means the show hasn’t fully animated its twelve episodes while it’s still airing. Is that how it works now? I remember Sparrow Hotel overhauling the whole animation halfway through, so maybe we are producing shows fast now. That’s innovation, but it ultimately doomed this promising anime. The disappointing feeling of the second half eventually culminates in the ending. Oh my gawd, the ending feels like a giant slap in the face. After promising so much, the anime just couldn’t find a way to properly end it all. They let the gauge fill and end the story. It’s finally over, until they did a big swerve and simply slapped us in the face. The ending is beyond retarded, and it’ll ultimately sour the experience. Any good thing the first half gave you can be easily wiped out by the horrid ending it had. The show could’ve just given us more empty episodes full of fan service. It actually gave us a big middle finger instead. You basically followed the series only to be insulted at the end, and that’s not really a fun way to watch anime.

The characters are interesting at first, but they stalled at the end. Mistuki is interesting though, because she’s submissive but she also doesn’t like everything that’s happening to her. While it is odd that she simply accepted a spirit in her life, and yet she can’t accept having a new family, it just gives us some good fodder when she’s slowly fleshed out into a well-rounded character. It doesn’t really happen, but she’s probably the most interesting character in the show. Her interactions with the spirit are interesting to watch, and her reaction to seeing her step brother basically fan serviced by her is pretty priceless as well. She’s a really cold girl, but it simply just means that she has some stuff to work through. There is a lot of potential for Mitsuki to really be a great character, and it’s a shame it’s never realized. Anyways, the step brother is interesting as well because he’s an idiot. He’s practically clueless about the whole incest deal, because he really has good intentions in mind. He doesn’t want to sex her step sister, but I think the plot calls for him to slowly realize that. I can just imagine the two of them completely awkward in a room knowing the other’s feelings for them, and it’s pretty cute. I love how step brother even points out that he “can” sex it up with little sister, but it is unfair to their parents. This guy is so nice that he even puts his parent’s happiness in front of his own. Yknow, he’s the typical light novel main character. He’s caring, but his attitude also serves as a good base for the wish fulfillment. The spirit is the one badly developed in this whole ordeal. In the first half, she is really just annoying. She pushes her wants with little regards for others. I think it’s intentional though, because the second half is supposed to make up for her selfish attitude. She’s supposed to get her fleshing out in the second half, but it doesn’t really happen. I like the mystery surrounding her, even though it’s loaded with convenient cliché like she doesn’t have her memory but she knows she want to have sex with the step brother. Like, really? That’s awesome. As I said before, the subtle message also comes across clearly when she goes and violates Mitsuki. I think there’s more to her than that though, and it’s a shame we’ll never really know. The rest of the characters are forgettable so I won’t bother talking about. Well, except for the actual siblings in the anime though. Step brother has a friend that has a sister, and they’re focused on from time to time as well. They act as contrast to the weird relationship Mitsuki has with her brother, and I think they’ll be the one urging her to act more sisterly around her brother. But again, I’m not entirely sure.

I have never heard of studio Project No.9 before, and it looks like they’re a recent studio. Their first work is Ro-Kyu-Bu alongside another studio, and they ventured on their own with this very first anime. I get it now. This is supposed to be their big attention getting piece that’ll get people talking. It means that the success of this anime determined their standing, and I think they bet their all on this show. Sweet flaming Pikachu, this whole ordeal is just sad all around. I think this studio definitely has potential, and they should make more great shows. They tried to be daring, as in studio Feel in 2010 doing Yosuga no Sora daring, but it ultimately blew up in their face. This doesn’t mean that they should stop though, because they can just take notes from this experience and simply try again. Actually, I want them to try again. I want them to actually show us what they wanted to achieve in ImoCho, because I think it’s something a lot of people can appreciate. The amount of effort they gave in ImoCho is outstanding, and they should try it again. I can’t wait to see more of Project No. 9. This anime is directed by Hiroyuki Hata. This guy has done a lot of storyboarding in his career, but most of the shows he directed are exceptional as well. He storyboarded solid shows like Bokura ga Ita and Another, while he directed great ones like the Yuru Yuri franchise. I think this guy is a talented director, and Project No. 9 should keep him. Let his talent develop over time, and I’m sure it’ll pay off in the long run. The amazing balance he achieved in this anime is something I really enjoyed, so I hope he keeps on making more shows like this.

Sight and Sound

ImoCho

This anime is adapted from a manga by Mari Matsuzawa. She’s as pretty well known artist at this point. She also did Inukami, which is a sexually charged anime even zanier than ImoCho. Character design is actually a lot better in the manga because it doesn’t look quite as cute as the anime. I mean that the design looks a lot mature. It’s a similar design, but the head is a lot more normal in the manga. In the anime, when a character goes sideways, their face would shrink and it looks really weird. The manga is also a lot more sexually intense than the anime, for some reason. I think the anime really aim for something cute, and they toned down Mari’s design. If you look at the manga, it easily resembles Inukami more than ImoCho. The skin tone is a lot more appealing, there is more emphasis on Mitsuki’s sexy body and you feel a bit dirty reading it. I love it. The design is pretty solid though. Aside from the weird face design, the anime looks pretty good. It’s a lot more generic than what Mari intended it to be though. Basically, the show altered some of Mari’s signature style to make it friendlier, I guess. The anime downplayed the detail work on the characters, they eliminated the sweats and heavy breathing when Mitsuki masturbates and the overall grown up sexual appeal of Mitsuki is turned cute. I don’t really mind the sudden change, because adapting the damn manga is a big enough risk. I’ll give points for making the crotch shots look appealing though. The design of the chastity belt looks sexy on Mitsuki in both versions. There are just beads of sweat running down her legs in the manga, and it’s sexy as hell. In the anime, I like how they handled that nicely. The chastity belt looks jarring, but I think the whiter skin tone makes up for the more appealing look. Also, the masturbation scenes are a lot crazier in the manga. Good gawd, I couldn’t even finish the first chapter.

Animation is pretty decent. There’s not really much here to talk about, since the emphasis is more on the visual design that the animation itself. The only thing to note is Mitsuki’s facial expressions, and they’re pretty great. She moans, gets angry, cries and pouts but the animation is able to capture all those expressions nicely. The animation really captured her moody personality, and I like that a lot. Aside from that, the show is pretty dialogue heavy than anything else. Even the spirit’s movements aren’t that exciting to look at. The constant groping scenes and masturbation scenes are animated decently, but it’s actually the moaning of the voice actress that makes it special. It’s that great trick in porn where you can make a scene work as long as you have a loud girl working with you. The masturbation scene in the first episode is nice though. The animation stands out there, but it doesn’t really stay consistent throughout the show.

The anime’s OP is “BINKAN Attention” by Mitsuki Kanzaki, Hiyori Kotobuki, and Yukina Kiritani (Chinami Hashimoto, Yui Ogura, and Hisako Kanemoto). This is sung by the three main girls in the anime, including the childhood friend. It’s an incredibly cheesy song about someone being in love. The lyrics have global warming and my heart is forecasting rainy weather, and it’s stupid. Forgive me though, because I’m no longer moved by cute stuff. The song is cute, and the voice actors are adorable. The chorus is pretty decent as well, but it’s really not doing anything for me. The OP sequence is pretty decent. It features all the characters, and all of them holding the chastity belt. It even featured Mitsuki naked in one scene, so that’s pretty fun. The anime’s ED is “Charming Do!” by Yui Ogura. This is a pretty cute song thanks to Ogura’s amazing voice. I remember she has great pipes because she also did a great job voicing Kannagi. The song is the same cheesy cute song like the OP though, but more sexual. It has lines like “you won’t believe how far a girl can go so go ahead and take me” which is pretty funny considering the spirit sang the song. The most interesting part about all of this though, is the ED sequence. It hints at the identity of the spirit, and it follows a mascot size version of her living her school life. She rejects boys, and has a deep infatuation with the step brother. One day though, she saw him across the street then leaps the barrier and cross traffic to be with him. She is promptly hit by a truck, and it’s horrific. The animation is also pretty detailed at the moment of impact. I know she died that way, and it’s pretty f*cked up how the show pass it off as cute. I’ll give points for the genius approach though. She posed at the end, but the background characters witnessing her killed by a truck is rightfully horrified, and it horrifies me as well.

Overall Score

6/10 “I highly recommend the first six episodes, and you can just stop there because the rest is just fluff and garbage.”

Overall, this anime is one big mess. I would consider it a disaster for Project No.9’s first attempt at solo work, but I also think the show still has value. I really just reviewed the first six episodes, if you actually read this long ass review, and I like what I saw. It’s an interesting show with all of its elements nicely balanced. Of course, it turned crap in the second half but you can just skip that if you want. If you like seeing anime girls pleasure themselves, then you’ll like the first episode. If you like pee related Ecchi jokes then try the second episode. If you’re a fan of the cliche Ecchi situation of two characters trapped in a bathroom, then you’ll like the third episode. It got better after that, but yeah, the rest of the show can really sour the experience.  Watch it for curiosity’s sake and see why this anime is subject for Japan’s Ethics committee to intervene. It’s a good anime experience for what it’s worth.

 

Thoughts~

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