The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai

Title: Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai aka Ore no Imouto aka OreImo aka My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute
Genre: Comedy
Company: AIC
Format: 12 episodes
Dates: 3 Oct 2010 – 19 Dec 2010

Synopsis: As far as Kousaka Kyousuke, a normal high school student, could remember, his younger sister Kirino had all but ignored him when she wasn’t looking down on him, and it seemed that their relationship would always remain this cold. But when he finds an anime DVD case in the hallway, containing a H-game CD, it leads to him discovering Kirino’s secret; that underneath her smart, pretty and overachieving exterior, she is actually obsessed with anime and “little sister” games.

The Highlights
Irony: “My favourite hobby can’t be this embarrassing.”
Execution: Was good for the first half, but barely goes anywhere in the second.
Characters: Many interesting personalities with too little time in the limelight.
Kirino: Vindictive, bitchy, violent… like too many real-life sisters out there.
Ending: Just an “alternative”; wait for the BDs for the “True Ending”.

If you’ve looked at the title, the character designs, or the synopsis of this work, and decided to pass it over as probably yet another otaku-pandering bait in the vein of the mediocre Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu, it would be a perfectly reasonable reaction given the way OreImo, as it is colloquially known, is packaged. However, stick with it, and it quickly becomes apparent that OreImo is an otaku comedy given a large shot of reality, which by itself almost makes it worth the watch.

Nowhere is this more apparent than how the otaku subculture itself is portrayed in the series; interest in anime and eroge is shown in a positive light, as a normal hobby where one can find like-minded friends just like any other, instead of a deviant identity so often demonized by mainstream media. On the other hand, OreImo also has no qualms showing the more questionable aspects of the subculture as it is; the title character’s drug of choice is recognized by all including herself as inappropriate to say the least, mainstream prejudice against the subculture is never far below the surface, and otaku characters display habits which are, to any outside observer, frankly quite embarrassing. In fact, the attractive character design of Kirino is an inspired choice, in that the true absurdity of stereotypical otaku behaviour becomes all the more apparent when contrasted with the unlikely notion of a pretty model teenager exhibiting such behaviour. The fact that such absurdity is so similar to real-life examples is likely not to be lost on the target audience, such is the irony that laughing at Kirino’s antics is often tantamount to laughing at themselves.

Unfortunately, although the ironic humour is well-written, the overall story itself falls just short of being decent. In fact, the first half of the series showed definite potential for drama, leveraging on the very real tensions between a prejudiced mainstream and the deviant otaku subculture through portraying the difficulties that Kirino has in juggling her “model student” and “hardcore otaku” sides. It is too bad then that OreImo failed to build upon that strong start, opting instead to segue into a second half of short stories that relied on the ironic humour, didn’t make much meaningful progress in character development, and in one case, indulged in a bit of shark-jumping. The tension which initially differentiated the series from others in its genre never really surfaces again, and even the decent ironic and slapstick humour starts to get old after a while.

This has to do in part with the characters, most of which have very interesting personalities, but never really develop much. For most of the supporting characters, they never really get enough airtime in the first place, so they can more or less be excused for that, since they somehow tend to remain interesting despite the fact. It is the lead brother-sister duo who can be considered most guilty of this stagnation; Kyousuke must have the patience of a saint to keep doing favours for his sister at the cost of his dignity and despite continued harsh treatment by the latter, while Kirino remains so much of a vindictive, violent bitch she manages to get called out on it in a spot of meta humour within the series itself. In fact, despite her looks, Kirino might well be one of the most unlikable heroines in anime history… which, ironically enough, might well strike a bit too close to home for anyone who has a sister in real life.

To cap it off, this series is not yet complete; while the last episode does round off the series, it is but an alternative ending to the true final episodes which are to come in the Blu-Ray discs. Still, no matter how good those episodes may prove to be, one thing is certain; OreImo had a great deal of potential, and could have explored new ground with the juxtaposition between mainstream and subculture, but squandered it all to content itself with being a merely decent otaku comedy. Yes, it’s watchable, but there’s a lot of room for improvement here.

The Rating: 6

Reviewed by: Ascaloth

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