The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Kono Naka ni Hitori, Imouto ga Iru!

Title: Kono Naka ni Hitori, Imouto ga Iru! aka NakaImo – My Little Sister Is Among Them!
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Company: Studio Gokumi
Format: 12 episodes
Dates: 6 Jul 2012 – 28 Sep 2012

Synopsis: Mikadono Shougo’s father has recently passed away, and Shougo is set to take over the family business once he comes of age. Shougo is sent to a school to find a girl to marry as part of the terms of his father’s will. There’s a problem, however: On the day of his father’s funeral, Shougo was contacted by an unseen girl who claims to be his illegitimate younger sister, and who wishes to marry him. She also happens to attend Shougo’s new school. Will the young lady Shougo courts turn out to be his younger sister?

The Highlights
Premise: Quite dumb, but the show is aware of this and actually pushes things in the first half.
Comedy: Base and vulgar, but pushed to such stupid extremes — in the first half, at least — that it’s funny in a ridiculous way.
Mystery: Interesting in a perverse sort of way, because it’s a bit subversive … again, in the first half.
Shougo: A decent lead. He at least displays some intelligence from time to time. He is otherwise unexciting.
The harem: Mostly a collection of archetypes. A couple of them stand out for being particularly ridiculous.
Second half: Delves into boring drama and tedious corporate espionage; it forgets everything that made the first half any fun at all.

The first half of NakaImo shows why it’s not always wise to judge a book by its cover. When I heard about this series, I was ready to slam it from the start, and I did mock it quite often throughout its run. However, to the show’s credit, there’s a certain level of self-awareness and a willingness to embrace what it is. This series know it is a dumb (and occasionally offensive) sex comedy and doesn’t try to be anything more. Unfortunately, the second half proves exactly why it is wise to judge a book by its cover.

A show like this normally lives and dies on its character interactions — people want to see some romantic spark. However, the premise actively undermines romantic chemistry: There’s always the fear in the back of Shougo’s mind that his sister is seducing him. This is part of what makes the show enjoyable, because it’s weirdly subversive. Shougo is constantly haunted by the specter of his younger sister. She calls him every so often to taunt and tease him, and to remind him that she aims to marry Shougo. She comes off like a terrifying stalker ready to destroy Shougo’s life at a moment’s notice. It’s dumb, but it adds some flavor to the usual “solve one girl’s problems and move on” structure.

The comedy is quite raunchy and unapologetic. If there’s anything that can be used for a sex joke, the show will go for it. There’s one bit involving a DNA test and a certain method for obtaining the DNA that is particularly memorable. And, of course, one of the potential haremettes finds the flimsiest of excuses for being naked around Shougo nearly every second they are alone together. The jokes do get a bit mean-spirited at times since several of them depend on the girls having black holes where their brains should be. They’re not really dumb in a good-hearted, endearing sort of way; they’re flat out stupid. This would probably have irked me more if I cared about the characters in any way beyond them being pawns in this weird setup.

Unfortunately, whatever enjoyment can be derived in the first half is tossed away in the second when the show becomes more of a conventional harem comedy. The show’s overarching mystery is barely of interest.¬†It’s the tease and the subversion of the happy younger sister who will do anything for her older brother¬†that are most intriguing. Once the show truly becomes about finding out who the younger sister is once and for all and helping with her problems, all interest dissipates. The plot also develops into tedious corporate espionage: There’s a plan to oust Shougo as the heir to the company, and, of course, the younger sister is dragged into it. The twists and turns are meaningless; there is never any reason to care about whether Shougo assumes this leadership position.

All that’s left once the mystery crumbles is the crude humor. The show blows its load in the first half; there are a few amusing visual jokes in the second, but nothing too audacious. Without this humor, there’s nothing to care about when Shougo and his harem interact, because there’s little spark in any of the relationships. Shougo himself is an OK lead. He shows intelligence when necessary; however, that’s the only thing that stands out about him. The ladies range from boring to annoying, with the exception of a girl who goes by the code name Mr. X and is supposedly hired by an outside agency to monitor Shougo’s activities. She’s so ridiculous that she’s always enjoyable, but she’s also constantly on the sidelines and never a main player, unfortunately.

Credit where it’s due: NakaImo is far more enjoyable than it has any right to be. It’s unsurprising when the series crashes to the ground midway through and becomes utter tripe, but having something to enjoy is better than having nothing at all.

The Rating: 4
6/10

Reviewed by: Shinmaru

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