Controversy, Thy Name is OreImo (Ore no Imouto)Posted: April 29, 2013
So I wrote a review for the first season back when that ended, but the second season starting up inspired me to write this post, despite the fact that it covers similar ground.
If there’s one show this season that was going to cause a stir, it… well actually, that ended up being Aku no Hana, but the second show that people can’t seem to ignore is the second season of OreImo. To be fair, it makes sense that people are talking about it: the first season caused quite the explosion after the first few episodes. The series even started a trend in anime, for crying out loud.
So in commemoration (or fear) of this second season airing, let us chat a bit about the why this thing is such a complex existence. And by “let us chat”, I mean I’m going to go over my thoughts on the series and also explain in detail why Kirino is basically the incarnation of Satan.
The most common opinion I see on the show is that it’s a “guilty pleasure”. Obviously this typically means that it’s something you’re enjoying more than you actually should be. I normally don’t like the phrase, but I think it’s actually the perfect description for OreImo. The author shows at various points throughout the show that he actually does know how to write, such as the first three episodes of the first season.
It’s actually a pretty nice setup: Kirino has her secret that she can’t let anyone know, yet at the same time it makes her feel unconsciously guilty about it because she doesn’t have anybody to talk to that understands her hobby. She probably thinks that there isn’t even anyone relatively normal who would understand her hobby, which is why when Kyousuke finds out about it, she asks him so many times what he thinks about it. It’s not so much about confirming what he said as it is about Kirino getting a massive feeling of relief from finally being able to hear from someone that it’s okay to have the hobby she does.
After that you have Kirino becoming more accepting of her own interests, and being able to go out to meet people and make friends due to it, and you have Kyousuke also growing more accepting of it in the process. Then just as it seems like everything is going to be all hunky dory, the father finds out and Kyousuke has to finalize his acceptance of Kirino’s hobby by confronting him for her. It’s a nice – if a bit standard – setup, and I kind of wish the entire show just stretched this plot segment to be the entire show.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
I have no idea if the novel got popular for the wrong reasons, the author ran out of ideas, or if it was just so popular that the author felt like seeing what he could get away with, but everything went to hell after the first three episodes. I actually think the most likely explanation is that – assuming the first three episodes cover the first volume – the guy wrote the first one but then realized he had absolutely no idea where to take the story.
So he did what everyone else does in that situation and turned it into harem shenanigans.
To be fair, it manages to actually be somewhat subtle about it since unlike most harem shows the girls aren’t exactly drooling over Kyousuke, but it’s hard to find any real motive behind the rest of the episodes except shipping material or making Kirino look like more and more of a bitch. Actually, if it was just shipping material, I’d actually like the show. It’d be extremely shallow, but at least it’d be decently-written shallowness, if that makes sense. A majority of the side characters are likeable, after all.
But the problem is that Kirino is not likeable. At all. It would be one thing if you were supposed to hate her, but seeing as how any drama in the show revolves around her, that’s obviously not the case. You know, it makes it kind of hard to sympathize with a character when you can’t stand their very presence.
She went from a decent enough female lead into one of the most despicable characters of all time. I mean, she was occasionally violent or antagonistic in the first three episodes, but at those times there was actually a reason for her behavior. She was either afraid her secret was going to be found out, she was nervous about something, or it was just a slapstick comedy moment. Maybe those moments were still supposed to be funny after the first three episodes, but since it becomes so one-sided and completely unwarranted it times, it’s basically unbearable to watch.
I doubt it was supposed to still be funny though, more likely than not the author fully intended to turn her into this violent and evil entity. It’s not exactly farfetched to assume that he gave up Kirino’s status as a character in order to turn her into wish fulfillment for various otaku fetishes.
Think about it: Kirino plays a ton of eroge and drools over the characters, which is something that otaku would do. For all intents and purposes, they just made Kirino a little sister version of your typical otaku. I’m pretty sure one of the major things an otaku would want out of a girl is someone who understands their obsessions, and Kirino fits that role perfectly. Plus, she’s even a little sister, so she’ll always be around to love (or pester) you. Yet apparently that wasn’t enough, so they also made her horrendously antagonistic in order to appeal to the masochistic crowd.
But don’t get me wrong, Kirino’s character being reduced to walking otaku festishes is only one of the many issues with her. She’s also one of the biggest Mary Sue characters to ever exist. She gets straight A’s, she’s the star of the track team, she’s a model, and apparently everyone in the universe adores her. And every time Kirino doesn’t get something that she wants, she gets all depressed and mopes around until eventually someone else (usually Kyousuke) solves the problem for her. Then of course she shows no appreciation at all.
It certainly doesn’t help that all of the drama Kirino causes are some of the biggest first-world problems ever. “Oh no, my cell phone novel got turned into a book and is getting an anime adaptation, BUT THEY WON’T TAKE MY SUGGESTIONS.” Fucking seriously? I’m supposed to feel sorry for her? I’m supposed to feel tense when she gets struck with ‘magical anime sickness’ due to this? You know what I was actually feeling? Amusement. And mass hilarity when the whole ‘magical anime sickness’ came out of absolutely nowhere.
Oh, but even that’s not all of the problems with Kirino. The first episode of the second season tried to explain why she acts the way she does, which was not only quite possibly the dumbest reason I’ve ever heard, but it even managed to create a gaping contradiction as far as her behavior goes. So apparently the reason she started acting so bitter towards Kyousuke is because when they were young, he hit his “this is totally what it means to be a man” phase and basically told her that he didn’t want to do anything with her anymore. She retaliates by creating the persona we all know her to have now. This doesn’t make sense for multiple reasons.
First of all, kids are dumb. After a while Kirino would have simmered down and stopped being so crazy, since it was just a burst of anger. Kyousuke even started freaking out immediately upon seeing her behavior, so realistically speaking, she would have at least toned it down not long afterwards.
Though that’s not a contradiction. What is a contradiction is the fact that Kirino wants to be closer to her brother, yet at the same time SHE is the one causing that rift between them. At their current age, Kyousuke is fine with having a normal brother-sister relationship with her. It’s Kirino’s horrendous behavior that’s causing this rift between them, so her insistence on having life counseling is absolutely stupid when she can just stop being a total BITCH and they’d be perfectly fine.
You know, it just amazes me that a show that focuses so much on such a despicable character can be watched as a “guilty pleasure” while a show with characters that you’re entirely supposed to hate is vehemently disliked and the brunt of an untold number of jokes (*ahem*, School Days). It doesn’t help that I’ve seen people give the absolute dumbest arguments in defense of OreImo.
“It’s a great/accurate depiction of otaku culture!”
“It’s an honest portrayal of siblinghood!”
As a side note, as someone with an older sister myself, this is not how siblings act towards each other. It’s never this one-sided. Either you’re both mad at each other for something, you’re getting along, or you’re completely ignoring each other’s existence. Though even if there are a pair of siblings out there that have it this one-sided, it wouldn’t make it any less irritating to watch in a show that’s supposed to be entertainment.
Honestly, the only thing saving the show – and the only reason I’m watching it – would be the side characters. It’s kind of a given that any character would be better than Kirino, but most of the side characters are actually nicely-written characters.
Kuroneko is basically the beacon of light in the show: if anything because she’s the only character that actually calls Kirino out on her bullshit. Of course it also helps that she’s an infinitely better sibling than Kirino. One of my favourite scenes is when she’s on the phone with Kyousuke, and she takes various precautions in order to not wake her little sister who’s asleep on her lap. She also covers her with a blanket and watches that Meruru show with her despite hating it. As icing on the cake, this was during the episode where Kirino was busy drooling over her new eroge game, as if the entire point of the episode was to show how shitty of a character Kirino is compared to Kuroneko.
Manami is also a great character. Her interactions with Kyousuke are always nice to watch, especially when they start getting flirtatious with each other. The episode where he spends the day and night at her house was absolutely hilarious; and just like the episode that showed off how awesome Kuroneko is, this one also managed to simultaneously show how irritating Kirino is. You know, you’d think the show might just be sending subliminal messages…
Anyways, other than the side characters there’s no real reason to watch this show. It’s hard to just kind of wave away a character like Kirino, and she seriously drags the show down immensely. Though turning the whole thing into a vaguely-disguised harem didn’t exactly help. Besides the side characters, the only reason I’m watching it is to see how much worse it could possibly get. It’s kind of the same reasoning behind why you would watch a dumb teenager pull off dangerous stunts: not because you’re entertained by what they’re currently doing, but because of a morbid fascination to watch how far they’ll go before they end up falling right on their face.