Kyousuke Kosaka is a normal teenager with average grades and an average home life, but when he finds out that his overachieving younger sister Kirino has been hiding her vast anime and eroge collection from their unassuming parents, his world turns inside out! Now, having promised to help his formerly distant sibling navigate her two distinct lives, Kyousuke finds himself drawn into Kirino's world of magical girl anime and "little sister" fetish games while covering for his sibling to her parents and friends, not to mention trying to provide what guidance he can.
StoryI 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.AnimationWhat 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.SoundThe 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.CharactersThere 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.OverallI’m pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable this anime is. It may not be spectacular (other series, such as Genshiken, represent otaku culture much better), but if you fancy light entertainment with pretty visuals and comedy, OreImo is a solid choice.
"My Little Sister Can't Be This Cute," or "OreImo," is a show custom-designed to appeal exclusively to anime otakus. It centers on a middle-school girl's obsession with anime and little sister eroge (erotic video games), while her brother helps her try to maintain a balanced life and avoid destroying herself within her obsession. Some of the humor is very funny, indeed, and meant to give you the feeling of "I've been there." If you are a large anime/manga/whatever fan who is surrounded by people who don't "get it," that can be reason enough to watch this show. It offers some chuckles and good-natured ribbing at the expense of the otaku community. But that is all it offers. Kyousuke, the older brother, functions as the straight-man to the craziness of his sister, Kirino, and her odd friends. He does his best to help her out, but as someone who is supposedly on the outside looking in to their weird world of anime, some of his decisions are quite strange. For instance, early on the parents discover one of his sister's 18+ games, which Kyousuke is also apparently bothered by, yet his decision is to lie to them and claim that it doesn't belong to her, so that she can continue playing them. How does this make any sense, when the parents clearly said they were fine with everything but the adult material for their middle-school daughter? (Because it's the foundation of the show's jokes; can't get rid of that.) And what kind of message is this anime sending? "Do what you want. Lie all you can. What do parents know about the world?" I'm sorry, but I don't agree. And if the show is trying to demonstrate that this material is perfectly healthy, it utterly fails to do so, because Kirino is completely unlikable. To quote the show, Kirino is "100% 'tsun' (cold/hostile) and 0% 'dere' (cute)." Although it is quite fun watching her spaz out over various otaku fascinations, such as a cosplay contest or obtaining collectables, a completely different character could be inserted in her place and it would be just as fun to watch, if not more so. She is the ultimate self-obsessed poser. When the show starts, she is hiding her hobbies so that she can be friends with the popular kids, who, like Kirino, are all models--of course. When she confides in her brother, she treats him like dirt for his efforts at helping her out. When her friends decide that maybe her hobbies aren't so bad, she treats them like dirt, as well. Everyone around her is doing their best to be supportive, and all she can do is throw tantrums. If I were her brother and friends, I would leave her to her own sorry state and get on with my life. Is Kyosuke's sister "This Cute?" No. Not at all. There is also an interesting side-cast, consisting of both otakus and normals, any one of which would make a better main focus than Kirino--and, in fact, they do make a better main focus in the DVD specials. However, they are mostly relegated to the background while Kirino throws her tantrums and yells at her brother for no reason. The most enjoyable part of the anime, by far, was the moment when an unimportant background character performs an anime theme at a cosplay contest. That should tell you a lot. The animation is all standard slice-of-life type stuff. It's functional, but never catches your attention as being especially well made. Similarly, a day after finishing the series, I can't recall much of anything from the music. They pull the interesting trick of having a different ending credit theme in each episode, along with a different ending animation. As you might expect, however, this leads to endings that are barely animated--mostly using motion tweens to add movement to still images--and rather hum-drum songs. The VAs all portray their characters well, adding definite personality to the show--personality which is never allowed to develop, thanks to Kirino's camera hogging. Make no mistake, "OreImo" will hold your attention. It will provide a couple laughs. It will be forgotten quickly. This is an easy watch, at 12 reletively painless episodes, but I wouldn't watch it again. There's just not a lot going on, here.
I am going to start by saying I refused to watch this show. The premise sounded interesting enough, but the way it was explained at first put me off. Didn't help that my friend that watched anime every hour of the day to the point he became "that anime snob/recommender" introduced my girlfriend to it. It is kind of a pride thing like "Sure (insert snobman name) you know best after all what I like in anime." *rolls eyes as he smiles smugly with his arms crossed* I can't honestly remember what finally got me to watch it, but wow am I glad I did. Below are the points for those who haven't watched it. Interesting character development all together. Everyone is fleshed out. Watching while being observant will get you very far. There are a ton of things I only picked up after watching it a second time. I was so wrapped up in what was happening that I missed A LOT of subtle things that make this anime even better. There are actually a lot of very deep subplots and emotionally driven scenes, one in particular that still pulls at my heartstrings because of how raw it is. (The Kuroneko streetlight scene for those who have seen it already. (Heart if you agree.) Everything is explained, every line is ended, every question is answered (besides the final episode which you have to Google.) Why is she such a total bitch all the time? The one question on everyones mind from the get go, is explained in the final episodes. And if you dig deep enough into it, it makes perfect sense. This is not your typical "It's not like I care or anything bakka" tsundere, which is a trope I am pretty gosh darn sick of being left unresolved. Due to public opinion it doesn't end the way the writer intended, but if you dig a little bit (meaning literally just Google it) you will find the ending as intended. Meteor Impact, the Star Dust Witch Meruru theme, has been my ringtone for the good part of a year. Yes, it is that catchy. You will know when you hear it. Be careful, because there are "True Ending" episodes at the end of the first season. I didn't know this and got pissed because I saw the wrong ending. All in all this is my favorite anime of all time and I will gush to anyone who asks. Only reason it isn't a 10/10 is because you have to dig for the true ending and it isn't even shown in the final (real) episode. Please let me know if this review helped push you over the fence or got you to give it a try. I am excited to see if anyone read it and enjoyed the anime.
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