The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai – True Route

Title: Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai – True Route aka Ore no Imouto – True Route aka OreImo Specials aka My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute Specials
Genre: Comedy/Romance
Company: AIC
Format: 4 ONA
Dates: 22 Feb 2011 – 31 May 2011

Synopsis: Even though Kirino’s “life counselling” sessions continue with Kyousuke, recently she’s started acting with a strange sense of gratitude and courtesy, which is quite unlike her. After Kyousuke fulfils one of her requests to buy two new imouto erogames at an Akiba midnight release, he finds out that Kirino’s been hiding something from him for several months.

The Highlights
Characters: They’d be more likable without the angst-ridden outbursts; nothing Kirino could do would make her likable.
Subversiveness: Gone now; wholeheartedly replaced by transparent exploitation.
Romance: An underwhelming tease.
Ending: Limp; expect a second season.

Sometime during the first season, Ore no Imouto jumped the shark. When exactly is disputed. Some say it was episode 4 where a contrived moment of panic from Kyousuke finished up with both him and his sister on the ground, her panties in full view and his hand on her chest – the first scene in the show that’s only purpose was fanservice. Others, including myself, think it coincided with the implausible diversion that happened in episode 8, when Kirino’s crappy internet novel that she wrote over a time period that doesn’t even fit into the narrative got adapted into an anime. Whatever the case, only the most hardcore of OreImo fans now fail to recognize that its subversive and self-aware mask hides an exploitative smirk, like that of one’s manipulative little sister.

True Route makes an underwhelming start by repeating the last episode of the TV run almost exactly except for a Sliding Doors-esque scenario that leads to Kirino conveniently exiting stage right. With Kirino out of the picture, the opportunity is there to develop a relationship between Kyousuke and one of the other girls, but the whole thing just comes off as tepid. The biggest problem with Ore no Imouto, which goes right to its exploitative core, is that this 4 episode OVA was promoted as an alternative ending, but there’s nothing conclusive about it. There are rumours already circulating that there’ll be a second season, and given the show’s massive popularity and ongoing source material, they’ll probably be proven right. Ultimately, True Route is little more than a teaser, a hint of what might happen if there were romantic advancement between Kyousuke and someone who isn’t his sister, and unfortunately it’s all for naught.

There are a few noteworthy themes and ideas that crop up throughout this arc that the anime unfortunately lacks the gumption to follow-through with. We do see Kyousuke’s self-awareness of his own sister complex develop from unconscious to conscious, and his attempts to compensate for Kirino’s absence are pitiful while also painting him as flawed and interesting (momentarily ignoring the ending which I’ll get to in a second). The same can’t be said of the female characters. Manami has been reduced to a benign cheerleader, Kuroneko has more of the irrational, petty, self-loathing outbursts that I’d hoped were an aberration of the episode 8 low point of the first season, while Kirino… well, if you’ve seen the first season, you know what Kirino’s like. The writers seem obsessed with her… she’s off screen for two and a half episodes, yet the other characters spend their time wondering “where’s Kirino, why won’t she talk to us?” She’s this anime’s equivalent of the ill-conceived Poochie from “The Itchy & Scratchy Show”. I can imagine it being pitched the same way. “Suggestion one, whenever Kirino’s not on screen, all the other characters should be asking ‘where’s Kirino?’ Suggestion two, Kirino needs to be louder, angrier and have access to a time machine.”

So when the conclusion saw Kyousuke devolve into a piny, spineless doormat, anxiously pleading for his overbearing sister to return because he was so lonely, I lost respect for him too. I’m left wondering who I actually still like in this anime. That’s not to say it’s a complete waste of time. The animation looks every bit as good as it’s always been, and the comedy provides a few laughs. But the fact that the story revolves so tightly around such an unlikable personality in Kirino hampers its ability to be truly absorbing. Fewer angsty, self-absorbed, senseless outbursts from the other characters who actually are, otherwise, likable, would help its chances though.

The Rating: 5

Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun

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