In anime, we often see that brother and sister characters often have a very close relationship, usually one of an older brother and younger sister. That older brother is protective of the younger sister, and will go to great length to do anything to help her out, further strengthening the bond. But what happens if that bond is so far gone that you haven’t so much as exchanged greetings in years? What’s more, what happens when you come to find that all this time, that your overachieving, perfect sister has been hiding the fact that she is an all-out Eroge, Anime and Manga Otaku?
a) I’d condone her for being a disgusting Otaku!
b) It’d turn me on! Siscon FTW!
c) I’d help her in any way I could.
If you chose “C”, then you’re on your way to the true route. If not, reload your last save.
Will this Anime trigger any flags or should you go straight to the bad end? This is my review of Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai.
(Note: This review will be as spoiler-free as possible, and will contain Anime and Visual Novel-related terms. If you aren’t in the know, I’ll explain them. This is all only my opinion.)
Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai, or Oreimo as it’s often abbreviated, is a Romcom (Romantic Comedy) anime based on the light novels of the same name. It takes place in the city of Chiba, located in the Chiba prefecture of Japan and follows the story of Kosaka Kyosuke, a 17-year-old high school student. He has a 14-year-old sister named Kirino, and the two have a very distant relationship that has lasted for many years. Kirino is very cold towards Kyosuke, and Kyosuke believes this will never change.
However, by chance, he find an Anime DVD case lying near the entrance inside his home. It’s contents are revealed to be hiding an Eroge (an adult-oriented game, often with anime-style art, derived from the Japanese pronunciation of Erotic Game: “Erochikku gemu”), and Kyosuke is determined to find out which of his family members is the owner of the game. He comes to find out that it actually belongs to Kirino, and confronts her.
After a series of events, Kirino then reveals to him that she is an Otaku, and loves Anime, Manga and Eroge, and has a particular love for Moe (A style that caters to certain interests, usually of the cute variety) anime and Imouto Eroge. She has been hiding her hobby from everyone, out of fear of being judged by others. She then asks Kyosuke to help her in keeping those interests a secret and for “Life Counseling”, to which he agrees.
Kosaka Kyosuke (Seiyu: Nakamura Yuichi)
Our main character. He’s a fairly normal High Schooler who isn’t very close with his younger sister, Kirino. He wants to be closer with her, but fears that will never happen. After discovering his sister’s secret, he finds himself spending more time with her, albeit having to do with her hobby and helping her out in some fashion. Despite initial reluctance, he always helps his sister out, even if he is to not get anything in return, and will even risk his well-being and dignity to make sure she is happy.
Kosaka Kirino (Seiyu: Taketatsu Ayana)
Kyosuke’s younger sister. She is a track star, gets perfect grades and works as a model. She acts very cold towards Kyosuke, and is your typical Tsundere (The modern definition is a character who is hostile on the outside, but cute and warm on the inside, derived from the sayings “tsun tsun, or to be disgusted, and “dere dere,” or to be warm and fuzzy) who wants nothing to do with her older brother. That is, until Kyosuke finds her DVD case containing an Eroge. From here, she begins spending more time with him, dragging him to do things that pertain to her hobby and for “Life Counseling” sessions. Though she puts up a front, she actually enjoys the time she begins to spend with her brother. Her Anime preference tends to lean towards the Moe variety and Maho Shojo (Literally Magical Girl, i.e. Sailor Moon, Cardcaptor Sakura).
Kuroneko (Seiyu: Hanazawa Kana)
A girl who Kirino meets through a gathering organized on the internet. Another Tsundere, though much more quiet than Kirino and is actually quite shy. She is also an Otaku, but contrasts Kirino in that her taste in Anime is that of darker, fantasy-oriented material. She finds the type of Anime and Eroge Kirino likes to be childish and unrefined, to which Kirino is fiercely protective of. Because of this, they often argue, but are in reality very good friends. She often dresses in a lolita outfit based on a character in her favorite anime and, because of this, is initially mistaken by some to be a “gothic emo girl.” Kuroneko is not her actual name, but an Internet handle that she prefers to be addressed as, even in personal settings. Her real name is reveal later in the series. She is well-spoken for, as shown by her excellent vocabulary.
Makishima Kaori (Seiyu: Nabatame Hitomi)
A tall girl Otaku who dresses how many perceive a typical Otaku to look like. Kaori runs a group on the internet allowing girl with an interest in Anime, Manga or Eroge to meet-up in person and form friendships, which is how she meets Kirino and becomes friends with her. She speaks in a very formal and exaggerated manner, which is pointed out several times. She is an avid collector of Gunpla (Gundam Model Kits, derived from Gundam Plastic Models). Her speech pattern changes depending if she is speaking on the phone, internet or in person. She often goes by the alias “Saori Bajeena,” influenced by a character the Gundam series.
Tamura Manami (Seiyu: Sato Satomi)
Kyosuke’s childhood friend. She is a very sweet and kind girl who has a noticable crush on Kyosuke. Many people assume the two are dating, due to their close relationship, though Kyosuke never sees her as more than a close friend. Despite that, Manami constantly tries to do things that couples would often do with Kyosuke, often to comedic effect. However, she is described as a plain girl, often by Kirino.
Aragaki Ayase (Seiyu: Hayama Saori)
A girl in Kirino’s class who is her best friend, and claims that the two never hide anything from each other, and know everything about Kirino. She is also a co-worker in her job as a model. Ayase is very impressionable, and tends to believe anything the news says. She is seen as refined and polite to others.
Kurusu Kanako (Seiyu: Tamura Yukari)
Kirino’s classmate, friend and fellow model. On the outside she is cheery and cute, but will often switch to a unrefined, spoiled brat, much akin to Kawashima Ami from the anime Toradora! . She auditions frequently to become an idol, as she dreams of becoming one. She loves getting attention and is actually a very talented singer.
Kosaka Daisuke (Seiyu: Tachihiki Fumihiko)
Kyosuke and Kirino’s father. He is very stern and strict with his children, especially his daughter. He is very in-tolerate of Otaku, calling their hobbies a waste of time.
Kosaka Yoshino (Seiyu: Watanabe Akeno)
Kirino and Kyosuke’s mother. She loves her family and is strangely well-informed as to what goes on in it.
All the characters have their own merits and charms, and for the most part I like them. However, I do have a problem with Kirino. Don’t get me wrong, I think she’s a fine character and I really like her, I just feel that she abuses Kyosuke a little too much, often using him excessively for her own desires. Yes, it goes with the Tsundere archtype, and it’s part of the story, but it would have been nice to see her kind side more often. This doesn’t take away from my enjoyment of the anime in any way, so don’t let it affect how you perceive it as well, it’s just a minor complaint.
What good is an anime without a story? Well, unfortunately, Oreimo isn’t very heavy when it comes to a plot. It’s pretty much a story of a brother discovering his sister’s secret, how he gets roped in to protecting it, and how he becomes closer to her, with a lot of antics in between. It’s fairly generic and you won’t find any complex here.
However, Oreimo is still damn good. Why? Because of the sheer entertainment value. The events that happen are amusing, entertaining, and downright hilarious. As Kyosuke gets more and more involved with Kirino and her hobby, he suddenly finds himself being forced to play Eroge, dragged to Akihabara (A large shopping district in Tokyo catering to electronics, video games and anime. THE Mecca of all Otaku), forced to stand in line at the legendary Comiket (Derived from the words Comic Market. An event for writers and comic book and manga artists to sell their work, called Doujinshi, or a fan-made work. It is the largest comic event in the world, attracting more than half a million attendees each event. Comiket is held twice a year in the winter and summer in Tokyo at the Tokyo Big Sight in Ariake.), and finds himself spending time with her otaku friends.
One thing I want to address about Oreimo is that it is a show that is aimed at seasoned anime veterans and people who play Visual Novels and Eroge, as there are many, many referential things that pop up. If you are not up to speed with some terminology, stereotypes, cliches and material that is referenced in this show, you may become lost and will not get the full benefit of what the series has to offer. That being said, it’s still enjoyable.
Throughout the series, we see the relationship between the siblings change, making up for years of neglect towards each other. It’s also a fairly accurate depiction of how people who love anime, Manga, and Eroge act. I’ll admit, I see a lot of myself in the characters. The joy of collecting things, limited edition items, the excitement you have when your shipment of goods has arrived, the joy of being in a place surrounded by merchandise, the passion felt when in heated discussions about anime and manga, it’s all there.
Although it’s a Romcom, Oreimo does boast some Drama elements. It explores the other side of being an Otaku, dealing with criticism and judgement from friends and loved ones, as well as putting up with being labeled many harsh things, such as “future criminals.” It opens our eyes to the fact that not everyone is accepting of our hobby, and people will judge you for any little thing. In addition, it touches on the strains of relationships, particularly that of Kyosuke and Kirino’s building sibling relationship. The unavoidable fact that these two haven’t been close in years is ever present, and Kirino’s harshness towards Kyosuke further exacerbates this, even as the gap is beginning to close. It’s not Clannad level of drama, but it’s enough to merit some emotion.
Oreimo is 12 episodes long, with the last episode having a tagline calling it the “Good End.” However, there are 4 more episodes that have been released, collectively called the “True Route,” a nod to Visual Novels and Eroge for having multiple “routes” or branching stories. In true Visual Novel fashion, the Good End and True Route are decided upon a single choice, and I thought that was brilliant. The True Route, as expected, depicts a different story from how the 12th episode ends, ending with a different conclusion. This route is closer to the light novel than the Good End. I do like the True Route more than I do the Good End, as it fleshes out some characters a bit more. Both are good, though.
The art in Oreimo is great. The visuals are crisp and the character designs are detailed and very accurate to the original Light Novel, which is something that I commend. The animation never falters and is always colorful and full of life. Something I mentioned earlier is that the anime takes a lot of influence from Eroge and Visual Novel, and it is show during some scenes (such as the scene above).
The studio behind Oreimo is AIC, who are known for anime such as Tenchi Muyo!, Ah! My Goddess!, Girls Bravo, Bamboo Blade and more recently Sora no Otoshimono, Sasameki Koto and Ga-Rei Zero.
The opening animation for each episode differs every time. The opening animation contains references from other anime or VN, or even something from the Otaku popular culture. For instance, the screenshot I have above is a reference to the most popular video sharing website in Japan, Nico Nico. Nico Nico is in Japan what YouTube is to us here in America, and on Nico Nico you are able to write comments for the video at certain times, and the comment will fly across the screen at that certain time during the video. Most of the time it’s just random emoticons or sayings, and this particular opening is referencing that.
The ending animation is also different each time, and will depict a different drawing of one of the characters in different styles. They’re nice to look at, and are effective in keeping the viewer interested in the endings.
And we’ve come to the sound department of Oreimo. For the most part, the music isn’t very strong. The music isn’t too memorable, though it’s very similar to music that you would find in an Eroge, so one could say it’s an added layer of immersion and referential material. The music covers a wide variety, and fits each scene well. Each character has their own theme, stylized to fit their respective personalities.
The opening is called “Irony” is sung by the duo ClariS, and was composed by one of my favorite artists, kz. The song is, in my opinion, amazing. It’s an infectiously catchy piece of Electro House/Pop that I find myself listening to over and over. ClariS is on-point with their vocals, harmonizing perfectly with that excellent bass-line, melodic piano rhythm, and incredible beat. As expected of kz. The lyrics of the song go perfectly with the series, directed towards the relationship Kirino and Kyosuke have. Bravo.
As for the ending, for each episode it’s a different song, and is sung by a different seiyu each time. I’ll leave it to you guys to decide which you like.
Speaking of seiyu, each of them does an admirable job in their parts, and the voices fit the characters well.
Oreimo is an entertaining anime that shows us that you shouldn’t be afraid to like what you like, despite the fear of being judged or gaining approval of others. We also see how even after years of distance, two siblings can still form a bond. It might be lacking in depth and weight in the story department, and it may put off those who are not Otaku or aren’t up to snuff with their understanding of the sub-culture, but it should not take away the fact that this is one hell of a good anime. If anything, it will open up the Otaku subculture to the uninitiated, as other anime such as Lucky Star and Genshiken have in the past. This anime will reveal the passion that Otaku and fans have for their hobbies, just as other have with cars, sports and any other hobby the general public may deem “normal.” It was great to be able to see myself in some of the characters as they mirror my passion for Anime, Manga, Games and nerdiness in general. Oreimo triggered a flag for me, so now what will you do?
a) You make it sound interesting, I’ll check it out sometime.
b) I don’t think this anime is for me, I’ll pass.
c) I’ve already seen this anime. I’m just reading your review to see your take on it.
d) Too late. Starting watching while I was reading through this.
Whatever you’ve chosen, I hope you get the best ending.