I am the kind of guy who believes that something should not be judged completely based on its surface elements. However, those surface elements should accurately represent a product unless the point of a misleading surface element is for some kind of deconstruction, like with Spec Ops: The Line. So when I looked up information on this title, only to figure out that the titles of Oreimo is just an abbreviation of something that translates to, My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute… A title that would make anyone a bit embarrassed if they brought it up to the register unless it is also a place that sells body pillows of middle schoolers. So let’s dive into something that can be of really any quality at this point.
Oreimo(My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute) Season 1 and 1.5 Review
Length: 16 Episodes
Studio: AIC Build and Aniplex of America
Episodes 1-12 Available in Subtitles at CrunchyRoll
Before I get into the actual review, I should explain that bit about season 1.5, you see I only decided to do this show now because I thought there would be another season coming up soon, and there is, if by soon you mean April. So yeah, I’ll be getting back to this show when it ends in June. Yet, there were 4 episodes released after the original TV broadcast, one of which is a retcon of the final episode. Yet, those are not available for legal streaming, so I just had to do the illegal kind.
Okay, to the main review. The show centers around a 17-year-old average student named Kyosuke, a young man who is trying go through an uneventful life, but one that is stable throughout. To the point where he already secured a girlfriend who is pretty much a Grandmother if she lost 50 years. Yet, due to the fact we need conflict for a story, and this title needs meaning, Kyosuke is constantly at odds with his little sister, Kirino, a hyperactive A student, track star, part-time model, inexplicably red haired, fourteen-year-old. She is pretty resentful towards Kyosuke for reasons that I have theories on, that I will get to in a bit, but has one big secret. She likes to play Eroge.
For those who have no idea what that word means, it is pretty much just visual erotica novels, except this little girl is into the kind with little girls as the targets. She also likes anime a whole bunch, along with pretty much everything that is cute. Which is a secret she has kept to the point where she probably spent 700,000 yen($8,900) on all her collectables, games, and box sets. Yet after an undisclosed amount of time, she needs to share this with someone, and she chooses her brother, who reacts the same way most people would if their more praised little sister turned out to like games where you listen to little girls moan. Okay, okay, I’m just having fun, Kirino actually does not like the whole sex angle, she just likes the imagery and sounds of cute girls. Which kickstarts a series of events involving the two siblings and things that amount to silly to only mildly erotic due to the whole anime reaction of women believing that if it can look like rape, it probably is.
Yet, before I talk about the main story, I want to talk about the relationship between Kirino and Kyosuke. Now, we never have any prior knowledge to their relationship, so I can only assume that there is next to none, they live in the same house, but never talk to one and other. And due to the excess of media with little girls getting “captured” by big brothers, I think she may be trying to get Kyosuke to capture her. This is amplified by a scene near the end where we see Kirino knock down a laptop and have a voice clip resembling the intended reaction she was hoping for when she placed Kyosuke in a similar scenario. Although, I doubt this has anything to do with incest, but is rather just a way she wants to spread affection. After all, Kirino’s behavior can be attributed to the Tsun(Disgusted) trope to a near extreme level, and I guess she wants to be transformed into Dere(infatuated).
After all, having a relative is not necessarily a rational action, especially since she starts to get Kyosuke into Eroge and she busts his reputation all over the place trying to keep Kirino’s hobby away from her parents, since in their, and most other’s eyes, she’s on the route to failure and becoming a criminal, even though the show points out how stupid that is. That’s what I like about it, Oreimo is also a cultural examination at times, calling out just how dumb the prejudice against entire genres of media can really be.
I am not going to list the very well worded arguments near the ends of both the third and fifth episodes, but the first half of the show is centered more on the culture within Japan and how it clashes with the still alive traditional values, which are prevalent in both the father of Kyosuke and Kirino, and Kirino’s best friend who flat out shuns her, because she heard that “The vidjgerms muke teh psykhronpac kill de peoplers”. Something that would be on par with resenting any one who liked The Catcher in the Rye because some moron didn’t bother finishing it, where it said that the actions of the main character were really stupid, and killed a famed music man.
However, after the first five episodes, the show decides to take a bit of a turn. They start by giving Kirino a better relationship with her brother, a conflicting personality partner with Kuroneko, a gothic lolita teenager who can be pretentious and might have some lovely psychological issues. She does actually get a bit of a side romance with Kyosuke, but it is pretty clear that she has a hidden agenda, even though, much to her refusal to be viewed as a human, she does break down and act very selfless at times.
Along with Saori, a surprisingly tall green haired girl who is rocking swirly glasses and hiding a heavily foreshadowed secret that never gets revealed, most likely she is of a pristine family, due to the butlers. She serves as the main entry point for Kirino when she tries to enter the otaku community. Also, she talks in old or formal Japanese from all the “thines” and “thous” she spouts. Both of them certainly have their moments and do support Kirino as she is trying to balance her bobbies and enter the fandom that she is just entering after what was probably years.
But once the relationships have been established, the she wanders around and touches a few subjects, with the largest one being Kirino’s novel. Now, Kirino has been portrayed as an intelligent girl, but putting together a light novel is a good amount of work, so her going out of her way to make one. Yet, she gets it done in about a month or two while continuing her already hectic schedule. Yet, when the novel is released, it not only get publicity by being written by a middle schooler, who is probably anonymous since she filled the novel with yuri undertones. I know that is not uncommon in Japan, but how the hell could it get big enough for an anime adaptation. Yes, it is established as a last minute thing, but how the crap could she not even need her parents’ permission for this? And after the initial episodes about it, the topic is only hinted at once or twice.
After they toss around a few more ideas, and have the show wrap up nicely. The final episode is retconned, replaced, and starts a subplot where Kirino is no longer around and we focus on a game research club for a while. Which does not add a lot in the grand scheme of things, other than characterization of Kuroneko, and character who personifies the term, “Yaoi Freak”. And yes, she makes the last few episodes worth watching, since throughout the three additional episodes beyond the retcon, only a few points are brought up. Namely that Kirino loves track and field, as foreshadowed by… One scene of her running, great establishing there, matey. And Kuroneko is now a classmate with Kyosuke.
It is getting more than a bit annoying to say how, “This show looks okay, although the character design could be a bit better.” You see, I am not the kind of guy who notices little animation errors or characters being static for a while. I just know character design, and even that I am a bit too demanding, with them. I am a huge fan of looking up the various interpretations of colorful characters through dozens of different styles, and that is pretty much how I determine a great character design.
Maybe due to how I grew up with Pokemon and Digimon, where I attempted to memorize every name and ability based solely on their appearance. I get trying to make them look like normal people, or in Kirino’s case, a cutesy version of what I think Japan views American preteens they see in magazines as, with her long recessive gene hair and outfits that always have a hint of being over designed and look a hair slutty. I should not complain, seeing as how the animation should just be an emphasizer for the world, which is pretty much just ours.
Which I think might be the reason I am not big on movies, and the most realistic game worlds I like are things Greenvale from Deadly Premonition, and whatever the city district in The World Ends With You was called. And I guess the cities in Saints Row, but mostly due to how they turn the normal world on its head. Pretty much the only times that I do like a realistic world is when there is an undercurrent of cultural commentary to it, like it is here. Not that realistic worlds are bad, I guess they just aren’t my thing, but I am getting off track here.
As much as that novelist plot thread bugs me, the show is still very enjoyable to sit through. Character interactions are nice, plot lines for most episodes feel plausible and most of them do touch on the cultural views regarding things that people oh so often associate with Japan. And on top of that, the show is the kind of lighthearted fun that I love, mixed with just enough drama to make it memorable. Granted, I think a more focused plotline would be a better fit, rather than having half and half. If I had to say one thing about this show, it’d probably be that it is about a few hundred times better than the name would have you believe, with only 2% of the incest.