I put off watching Ore no Imouto while it aired. The surrounding hype and endless references or comments such as “my cosplay can’t be this cute”, “my rollerskating dog can’t be this funny” or “my home made dung bomb can’t stink this bad” were beginning to grate. So despite my interest in the series – and the protests of my relatively picky best friend claiming that it was awesome – I deferred. While maybe not as awesomely brilliant as its reputation may suggest, OreImo isn’t as generic as I’d anticipated, and I’m glad that the hype didn’t put me off.
What strikes me most about the anime is how much it feels like an amalgamation of several different existing series, without being derivative. Instead the show grabs the best bits from each and makes them its own. Utilising the same basic premise as Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu – a perfect schoolgirl hiding her otaku hobby with the help of one guy who happened to discover her secret – OreImo questions the negative stigma attached to extreme geeks and the girl’s battle between personal shame and what she loves. However, it scrapes away the dull and frankly excruciating “romance” section of Nogizaka, replacing it with Genshiken’s joy of exploring different aspects of the otaku culture. Topping it off with a spritz of hardcore nerd-dom akin to that of Konata from Lucky Star, a sprinkle of tsundere, and the kind of occasionally perverted comedy seen in countless other series, OreImo manages to entertain for all twelve episodes.
The series plays heavily on its eroge aspect – even so far as to create different endings with the ‘True Route’ included as DVD extras. As such, the storyline often mirrors whatever game the siblings are playing at the time. This subtle symmetry between virtual dating-sims and Kirino’s life not only seamlessly weaves one of the key components throughout the narrative, but also generates plenty of comedy. One of the show’s funniest moments depicts Kirino’s immense frustration as she encounters a character in one of her games that bears a worrying resemblance to her.
Despite offering up countless laughs, Ore Imo still has its share of pitfalls. While the first half of the series ambles along in an episodic manner, parts seven and eight veer off and introduce a more distinct plotline. Sadly, this only lasts for two episodes before being dropped in favour of the plodding format and same old jokes of earlier instalments. The anime also plummets into the same trap that plagues many light-hearted shows and pulls an emotional finale out of nowhere. Though this allows for more of the luscious eroge symmetry, the series’ “ending” feels tacked on and disconnected from the previous content.
What most defines OreImo’s animation is the care that applied to the virtual worlds within the series. AIC pours so much detail into the fake series, Meruru and Maschera, that each clip feels as if it could actually be a currently airing anime. This not only alludes to the studio’s varied abilities, but also makes the parody of their genres and the cast’s comments on them all the more humorous. Meanwhile, Kirino’s plethora of little sister themed eroge are so stuffed full of beautifully drawn young girls that you can almost hear the “fap fap fap” of some lonely guy “appreciating” the concentrated, scantily-clad moe of it all.
The series’ opening theme, Irony by Claris, falls into the realms of standard electronic J-Pop. Light and bouncy enough to make for easy listening, it serves as a decent opening to this type of anime but won’t blow you away.
OreImo’s voice cast delivers an impressive performance. While Kuroneko’s calm, refined inflections and Saori’s bizarre archaic speech pattern infuse them with character, the real stars of the show are Ayana Taketatsu and Yuuichi Nakamura’s depictions of Kirino and Kyousuke. Taketatsu seamlessly flits between stony, demanding tsundere, composed and popular model, and giggly moe fanatic, to ensure that Kirino’s multifaceted personality shines through in the vocal performance. Likewise, Nakamura’s frustrated and harassed, yet deadpan, reading of Kyousuke plays perfectly alongside Kirino providing a relatively calming influence in contrast to the secret otaku’s inner crazy.
There are several archetypes I dislike and my two most hated are tsundere and kuudere, both of which feature heavily in this show. I can’t help but admit that I dislike both Kuroneko’s indifferent and “cold as a penguin’s nether-regions” attitude and Kirino’s crotch-kicking, cheek-slapping tsun-tsun nature (I desperately want to slam Kirino into a wall half the time for being such a bitch). Independently, they are unremarkable stereotypes. However, together they make for one of the most entertaining on-screen partnerships I’ve seen this past year. Their heated arguments where each party vehemently insists that they know which anime is best and the other has no taste make the scenes come alive. On top of proving highly entertaining, their relationship is also incredibly relatable. Kuroneko’s insistence that Meruru is a waste of airtime reminds me of countless arguments I’ve had with a friend over the merits of Naruto. That the duo’s antics not only compensate for, but far outshine, their individual traits proves that even archetypal characters can be refreshing.
The most notable aspect of Ore Imo’s narrative is the development of Kyousuke and Kirino’s relationship. Starting out as two siblings that detest the sight of each other, the pair gradually grows closer thanks to Kyousuke’s kind-hearted, enthusiastic, and at times downright masochistic efforts to help his younger sister. Again, this mirrors the eroge format, as each flag – in this case their latest otaku-related misadventure – prompts a slight development in their kinship. Seeing them finding common ground to bond over and the subtle differences in their reactions towards each other is the highlight of the anime’s characterisation.
The secondary and tertiary characters generally do as they are supposed to: support the primary players without overshadowing them. Certain one-shot individuals shine, such as Manami’s grandfather whose mischievous antics provide a hefty dose of comedy during the episode in which he appears. However, others feel incomplete due to the constraints of a twelve-episode series. While Saori and Kuroneko work well in their own rights, we only ever see their “Internet persona”. This would be all well and good if OreImo didn’t hint that there’s more to their “real life” than we’re seeing and then fail to follow it up. In a sense it’s like the series is an alpha release of a dating sim; they’ve set up an additional two routes, but after triggering the first flag you hit an error screen unable to proceed further with the girl of your choice.
She can be, but boy she's a needy b****
Here we go, finally my last review of the Fall 2010 season! As expected, there is a clear dichotomy of opinions when it comes to Oreimo. There are the fanboys (and girls) who will refuse to acknowledge any shortcomings in the series and wait with baited breath for the next season or OVA, whatever comes first. Then, there are the people on the other side of the fence to will curse Oreimo's name as jejune rubbish that they've seen before mostly just to spite the fanboys (and girls). So as I often do (unless I'm trying to strongly argue a point), I'm going to attempt to provide as objective an opinion as possible. I'll start with the basics. The OP is great, "irony" by ClariS (as a passing note, they have another good performance in the Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magika OP). The lyrics and the title of the song itself are very appropriate for the series, it gets you into the mindset of what to expect right away. As far as the EDs go, they're done on a rotating basis (as Kirino would have it) with a new ED for each episode. Typically I don't like this strategy because the songs will always be hit-or-miss. That is the case here. Even though I did like a few of the EDs, it's not like I remember them because it only lasted one episode. As far as animation design, they go way over-the-top with blushy cheeks on the female characters which will automatically annoy some people, but it is appropriate to the series. If not the lackadaisical plot, then the greatest point of dichotomy in this series would be the characters. More specifically, this refers to the female lead, Kirino. There's really no choice, you either love her or hate her. I would err on the side of love (though her abscence in the True Route does knock her down a peg). It's not so much that I was tremendously infatuated with her character, but she has that enthralling quality that makes you gravitate towards her which is a strong contributing factor to the success of this series. You have to buy into it, otherwise, just don't watch. Honestly, at times I may have found Kuroneko (aka the goth loli) to be a better character. I know I'll be crucified for suggesting such blasphemy, but so be it. The male lead, Kyousuke, is not so polarizing as his little sister, Kirino. I'm sure that even the dissenters would identify with him to some extent. He's just a regular honest guy really. So much so at times, that it's refreshing. The lengths he goes to just to protect his little sister (one way or another) shows his amicable character behind his facade of indifference. The minor characters seem to randomly rise and fall in an out of obscurity with little rhyme or reason. I should note that I consider Kuroneko to be a main character (at least she will be by the next installment of Oreimo). Not to condemn all the supplemental characters to the flames, Saori has her moments as does Ayase, but then they sort of just disappear for a while. Manami is a horrible childhood friend character and really is only used for the purpose of being ignored. As far as the story and the plot are concerned, the less said the better. The funny moments are funny, sometimes even hilarious. The scenes that relate to the plot are usually pretty cute/ touching though these scenes are few are far between. But you could say that all this talk is really missing the point of the series. Moreso than anything else, this series creates the ultimate irony of Kirino's anime fantasy where she unwittingly plays the hard-to-get lead. And now we get to the heart of the matter, the ending(s). The "Good End" (i.e. episode 12) had promise but fell flat with the lack of a confession/ kissing scene. At first, I was particularly peeved by this. However, after watching the "Bad End" (i.e. the special, episode 13), I no longer viewed the "Good End" so harshly. The "Bad End" is such a horrible alternative; I'm glad they left it for a special instead of including it in the series directly. But it does give you some insight into why they took the less-than-gratifying approach in the "Good End." So in conclusion, as I've alluded too, Oreimo goes by way of its characters. If you can buy into the whole schema, that everything revolves around Kirino, then you have yourself a series to enjoy for many years to come presumably. If not, just don't watch, don't complain, and get on with your life. I'd give Oreimo an 8 out of 10 for content and promise.
P.S. If you noticed the ultimate irony of this review, call me out for it and I'll be incredibly impressed.
If you hated Kirino but more or less liked the overall vibe of the series, then I would definitely recommend watching the True Route specials. It's been amazing so far (way surpassing the quality of its predecessor).
Ore no Imouto, fully named Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai, translates as My Little Sister Can't be This Cute. This was an anime that I was hesitant to watch. I was doing an only anime/manga craft swap and my partner had this listed as her favorite so I watched it to get an idea of what sort of things she liked and as it turns out, I loved it, too!
It's about a teenage boy named Kyosuke who lives with his younger sister, Kirino, but they hardly talk because they are so different. In fact, she never seems to really notice he's there. One day, Kyosuke finds a DVD in their house. The case is of a magical girl anime, but the disk inside is actually eroge (an adult PC game). After he asks, at the dinner table, if anyone knew about a magical girl anime, his sister acts a little weird, but doesn't say anything. Later that night, she reveals to her brother that she is an otaku, a person who has an anime/manga/videogame addiction. She shows him her extensive collection of adult games that focus on a little sister theme. Kyosuke, is told to help her with life advice, and also is helping her keep her secret from their parents.
The whole series is about the relationship that the brother and sister find with each other and how Kyosuke helps Kirino find friends she can talk to and gain confidence. Kyosuke is probably my favorite character. He's so cute and loves his sister and is willing to sacrifice his dignity to help her, which he has to do numerous times. Kirino is stubborn and continues to act like she's taking her brother for granted. The friends that she makes, who are also otaku, are Ruri and Saori. Ruri, or Kuroneko, often wears cosplay and is an opposite personality to Kirino. She's always insulting Kirino and getting into arguments, but they become great friends. Saori is a little crazy and very tall.
In the manga, more information is revealed about Saori, however, in the anime, you don't get much information. There's one episode where you see a well dressed wealthy girl, which you find out was Saori, but that's all you get. It doesn't go into any more detail. Manami is Kyosuke's childhood friend and you know that she is secretly in love with him. She does make a small move in one episode, but that's another thing that you never get anything else on.
It is a 3 volume manga, but is a 14 (including a 12.5) episode anime that features an alternative ending (just like an eroge game). You decide the ending. Both endings are good, but I do prefer one over the other. I love the fact that it has two endings. The artwork was a major surprise to me; it's fantastic. The opening song has actually become one of my favorite songs of all time! It's called Irony by a new Japanese girl group called ClariS. The ending song is the same as the opening. The Japanese version is the only version out right now, but the voices are good.
This anime was so cute! It may not be for everyone though. It's not really romance, it's not really a full comedy, but it's also not a full drama either. There's some near Ecchi moments, but it's not too much. It's just plain cute! If your into the cuter anime/manga, then you may love this!
Otaku culture can be a strange culture indeed, though of course, as is the case with everything, the extremists give otaku’s a bad name. Take for instance Kirino Kousaka, a middle school girl who is obsessed with erotic video gaming and a little girl anime that Ore no Imouto even admits is something guys seem to love for all the wrong reasons. Then again, that’s probably some sort of complex paradox because I’m sure some people who watch this classic tale of a brother and sister in trouble who build their relationship through their trials and tribulations aren’t paying attention to the story. They are more so paying attention to the slutty girls who are being photographed by creepy men with pedo-staches. Either that or Kuroneko who is perhaps the greatest thing since pastrami on rye. Or for you Chicago people, meat sauce in a dish with cheese on top that somehow constitutes as pizza.
Oh snap, just pissed off two people who randomly clicked on this review in the hope that I would actually be reviewing some sort of hentai. Well, sorry guys. And sorry about your pizza. When everyone throws their sauce in a circular ditch and some guy realizes you can just throw it in a pan, throw some cheap Wal-Mart brand cheese on it, bake it, and then serve it to the unsuspecting masses of tourists who had been waiting in line to go to the top of a skyscraper for five hours and see the place across the street and think “Wow, Chicago authentic pizza!” that guy knows he pulled off one of the worlds greatest scams. You know what else is authentic in Chicago? Al Capone! And would you eat bullets out of a pan shaped like a tommy gun? NO!
Now back to the point. Ore no Imouto replicates real life in some strange ways that I wish weren't real, but the internet has shown otherwise. Kirino has a million erotic games hidden in her closet with a bunch of statues of Meruru, some generic magical girl who flies around and is cute and guys love for all the wrong reasons. Which I’ve said before, but must reinforce for everyone who has short term memory and forgot everything in the first paragraph because of my entirely unrelated and stupid diatribe about food.
Kirino’s brother, Kyousuke Kousaka, finds out about her dirty hobby and decides he will help her hide it from her parents, who will probably disown her for owning just explicit games. How does she get all this stuff? Well, she has a job as a model with her friends, a little feisty girl and a big feisty girl who aren’t important enough to care about. What really makes this weird is that Kirino has an obsession with little sister games. This makes for a lot of awkwardness between Kirino and Kyousuke that could be misconstrued as some sort of romance developing, which we all know is quite possible but we don’t want to happen. At least, I hope you’re not all for this brocon siscon stuff. It’s weird.
Through Kyousuke's help, Kirino meets some new friends, one of whom is Kuroneko, and together they do otaku stuff. Since Kirino has been hiding her fandom for so long, it gives her an outlet with which to show her love. And that’s pretty much the whole plot. With the exception of a later section dedicated to Kirino writing a light novel, there’s not a ton of plot or anything too memorable. But it is an entertaining plot nonetheless.
The animation is pretty standard. It looks decent, but is nothing jaw dropping. Characters blush a lot and I don’t understand why Kirino’s hair is brown as a kid but orange-y as a teen. I mean, she could have dyed it or it could be the light, but it just struck me as odd.
The sound is…meh. The voices are good. But otherwise, the opening is very basic and dull. Upbeat pop song? Sounds like a plan! I must commend the series for its having a lot of ending themes. Now, this isn’t exactly a good thing. You can take twenty poops on the side of the road and they’ll all stink. And that’s kind of the same for the ending themes here. Quantity does not equal quality. Music during the show is generic piano compositions that are about six keys being played in some sort of order that sounds somewhat like dramatic music. You know why Mozart didn’t do music for anime? Because he had talent. And anime hadn’t been invented yet, but that’s beside the point.
What’s there to say about the characters? A LOT! Kirino is a freaking fantastic little sister and I wish my little sister were like her! Instead I have to deal with my little sister complaining because Clannad is too mushy and Vampire Knight is the greatest anime ever made because it is like Twilight and Twilight is the greatest book ever written! Why can’t all girls be like Kirino? A model, a pervert, and an otaku? One of the funniest scenes is when she gets her body pillow of Meruru and starts rolling all over it. IT’S FUNNY BECAUSE SHE’S JUST LIKE US! SHE’S AN OTAKU! SHE LIKES BODY PILLOWS! HAHAHAHA! EXCEPT SHE’S CUTE AND ADORABLE AND POPULAR AND WE AREN’T!
“Whose this we and us?” You ask from atop the highest apartment in the neighborhood, preparing to throw a tomato at me as if I were Dane Cook doing a comedy routine.
“SHUT UP!” I cry in an attempt at a retort that goes horribly south as your tomato sticks to my shirt. “I WANT TO FEEL INCLUDED!”
Now back to this. Kyousuke is a pretty solid character. He’s fairly generic, “I want to help people” and “Go with the flow” and “TAKE A FREAKING KICK TO THE BALLS FROM YOUR SISTER AND DON’T GIVE THAT BITCH A BACKHAND!”. His niceness is actually pretty funny. At one point he gets punched in the face by his dad, some sort of cop who doesn’t approve of anime or erotic games. All Kyousuke does is protect his sister and what she loves and you kind of grow to like him for being so selfless, even when he doesn’t get much in return. Plus, his conversion into a erogamer is pretty funny.
Another character of note is Kuroneko, who I bring up a lot because she’s just too damn adorable. She’s hilariously dark; the complete opposite of Kirino (which is, of course, a means for comedy gold occasionally) and I personally found her to be the best character. She cares about Kirino while simultaneously hating her guts, she’s a closet otaku who makes her own cosplays, and she’s also a sweet girl outside of being an otaku and pretty shy. While I loved Kirino and Kyousuke’s characters, I loved hers more.
Otherwise, the characters aren’t that impressive. Kyousuke has this girl who likes him and is a childhood friend, but she’s flatter than Minami’s chest (Baka and Test reference)(My English teacher always told me that comparing media was the highest level of thinking). Her grandpa, on the other hand, is the greatest grandpa ever. He just wants his granddaughter and Kyousuke to bang. And he hides under the table like all good grandpas and tells them to do it. If he had his own anime, I’d watch it.
Ore no Imouto, in all seriousness, is not a bad anime. It’s a look at Japanese otaku culture (which is so impressive, I wish I could go to Japan through a portal and buy all that anime stuff) and also a decent character building adventure. The brother and sister thing does become kind of creepy at points, but a lot of the time it is pretty heartwarming and cheerful. You root on the characters and you grow to like them, not only for their subtle love for each other or because you can make parallels between themselves and you, but because you really want to see them do what’s best for themselves. They’re not totally realistic and barely take a life of their own, but the characters are still fun to be around. They’re like friends you want to hang out with all the time.
And it’s sad to see it end...
BUT THERE ARE OVAS!
Which throws us into OVERTIME!
The OVA is four episodes. The first is episode twelve of the original anime with a different ending. You can skip about twenty-one minutes of it to get to the changes. After that are three episodes that are centered around the relationship between Kyousuke and Kuroneko. This relationship never exactly blossoms, but it does turn out to be rather cute and nice. The relationship between Kyousuke and Kirino, at least, in my opinion, does improve and show signs of development, even in the seven minutes they are together throughout the OVA’s. While there is not a lot within the episodes and they seem like the end of a first season and the beginning of a second, they are still worth your time if you enjoyed the original twelve episodes characters. If you liked the whole otaku culture part, then you won’t be quite as impressed.
Overall, as a package with the OVA’s, Ore no Imouto is worth your time. While not spectacularly impressive in any sense, it is a good drama and comedy. The romance is there, but is subtle, which is better than being there at the forefront but never defined. The focus on a closet otaku is probably material that, let’s face it, a few of us could relate to. And I’m sure we all wish Kirino were our sister.
I give Ore no Imouto a 7.5/10
“This world is full of things that defy all common sense” ~Kyousuke Kosuka
Some anime like to take us to faraway lands, deep into the reaches of fantasy where magic is real, man has traveled into space, and/or pirates still sail the seven seas. Other anime like to remain down to earth and draw their entertainment value from a minimally exaggerated portrayal of real life. This anime doesn’t fall into either category. The story of this anime is a “what if” scenario. What if one had a cute little sister who was blessed with ridiculous amounts of talent, always got her way, and was in love with her older brother but won’t admit it? It’s from this premise that we get Ore No Imouto go Konna ni Kawaii Wake Ga Nai, or My Little Sister Can’t be This Cute.
The story begins comically enough. The little sister is shown to have amazing talent in school, in academics, and in all her other endeavors, as opposed to her older brother who is the epitome of normalcy. But the little sister has a dark secret; she’s obsessed with stories about little sisters and collects all anime, manga, figures, doujinshi, and anything else related to the genre. Her older brother discovers this secret, which forces him…to do whatever the little sister tells him to do? That’s strange. Usually when such a secret is revealed, it’s the character that’s desperate to preserve her identity that serves the one who is sworn to secrecy. But in an unusual inversion, the older brother spends the entire series either helping his little sister keep her hobby secret (often at the cost of his own dignity) or helping her with friends with the same hobby, those engrained in the otaku culture like many of the viewers of this anime.
“Otaku pandering” is a term thrown around on many a message board, but this anime truly takes the cake with it. Very few aspects of the story are realistic even though it’s supposed to be a slice of life comedy. The filler episodes get just plain ridiculous with how the little sister always gets her way, and the comedy, while present, often falls flat. This marks a downward spiral as the series goes along, when the same jokes told over and over get really old, really fast. Apparently the ending was filler and the true ending will be shown next summer, but this series has successfully killed all of my interest in the story, so I don’t think I’ll watch the “true end.”
Really, what’s there to say about the animation? It isn’t great, but it isn’t terrible. I did find some of the character designs to be redundant, as Kirino and Ayase looked almost exactly alike besides the fact that they had different hair styles. The issue was that there was nothing really challenging attempted in this anime besides the occasional rain sequence, which in this day and age should be done correctly by any animation company with self-respect. Overall, the scenes seemed very bright, except in the view moments in the series where the drama ran high and therefore everything needed to suddenly get darker.
The music was fairly good, although it also seemed repetitive at times. If you listen closely, it seems that the music reflects the overall awkwardness of the series, with a very jerky, off-beat style. The OP was fairly catchy, and I didn’t bother to watch all the various endings as I was more curious as to whether the title of the next episode would indicate an overall improvement.
Where this anime really shined was its voice casting. Ayana Taketatsu and Yuuichi Nakamura did a perfect job with their roles. Kirino was the sharp, often angry tsundere whose spouts of “baka” and “hentai” came at regular intervals. Kyousuke sounded like the rational older brother who wanted no more than to make sense out of his situation. The supporting cast read their roles well too, despite the fact that they were largely stereotypical voices for stereotypical roles. But as I mentioned in my Hayate the Combat Butler review, often perfect stereotypical voices are hard to come by.
The characters of this series are “love-em-or-hate-em” types of characters. Personally, I loved some of them, but hated others. The main problem with the cast was how Kirino was written. As I mentioned before, she always gets her way, and therefore has an attitude of entitlement that is not funny but very annoying. She’s ungrateful for most of the series, which makes the times that she is seem very incredulous. Overall, she just isn’t very likable and seemed to pander to otaku tsundere lovers. But even those people would be disappointed as she’s almost all tsun and no dere.
On the other hand, I liked the character of Kyousuke. He’s just a normal guy who’s trying to live his own life despite the spotlight that’s on his younger sister. Many people hate on him for his actions, his lack of a spine and always helping Kirino despite how poorly she treats him. However, as an older brother in real life, I can relate to this dilemma. No matter how badly your younger sister treats you, whenever she comes to you for help, there is no way that you can turn her down. It’s just a natural part of the brother sister bond, and I’m glad the series tried very hard to portray that.
As for the rest of the characters, most of them were either unmemorable or just “okay.” Kuroneko was perhaps my favorite character of the series as she was everything Kirino wasn’t, calm, intellectual, and logical. But as for the rest of the supporting cast, they were either weakly written stereotypes, or just didn’t get enough screen time for development.
I hate when I reach the end of a series and I think “boy did I just waste six hours of my life.” There are many, many better series than this if you want a good portrayal of otaku culture. As far as awkward incest anime go, this one was about average, falling to many of the same traps that the others have, poorly developed characters and a ridiculous story. The most disappointing part was that this series had lots of potential, but filler and just plain bad writing destroyed any chance of that.