Oreimo 12 (True Route)

Like the vast majority of RABUJOI reviews, this contains spoilers, so if you didn’t watch Oreimo last fall, don’t read this.

I ended up liking Oreimo far more than I expected going into it (it enjoys a healthy 3.500 average rating for its 12-episode run). Rather than just a horribly-made, unoriginal, just-plain-painful excuse for edgy comedy – like so many anime with similar premises – Oreimo was refreshingly earnest in exploring the issues a big brother and little sister can have. I also found that you bring your baggage to the table with this show: either you’re a little sister and identify more with Kirino, or you’re a big brother and you’re nodding your head at Kyousuke’s troubles.

There’s also this constant question flying around: could someone this into big-brother eroge really not cultivate any romantic feelings towards her real-life brother? The answer is a clear “Yes” here; sorry pervs, this series doesn’t go there, nor should it. Kirino isn’t just defined by her otakuism; she is many other things. Similarly, her prim, proper, button-down overachiever surface betrays nothing about her passion for dirty anime and video games.

By the series’ end, Kirino and Kyousuke have been through a lot and gained mutual respect as a result. The last episode also marks what is most likely Kirino’s most selfless act performed in deference to her brother – even more selfless than dressing as a maid and serving him. That is to turn down a trip to America to train for track. While this episode starts the same way, there are many differences that I feel worked better; the most important being, Kirino does leave for America – without telling Kyousuke beforehand.

Mind you, they’re on very good terms the early morning before she leaves. She has entrusted him to protect her collection, and she even showed him her track evaluations and badges, almost as tacit hints. Yet there’s no screaming match or scrum this time; they say good night, and then she’s gone. And frankly, her leaving for America is huge for Kyousuke. He can have his own life now, something he didn’t have the whole series. He was always worrying about Kirino, and always sacrificing his time, money, and dignity. Because of that, Kirino can now do alright on her own, without his constant doting.

Which brings us to a quasi-cliffhanger~Kuroneko is now an underclassman at his school. As soon as Neko was introduced in this series, I immediately became a fan, since she was the only person to point out Kirino’s flaws and hypocrisy. But beneath her sardonic exterior, she turned out to be a very sweet and caring person who would be a great match for Kyousuke – especially since she’s not related by blood! Her arrival on the scene is bad news for Manami, but it’s been painfully clear for a while now that Kyousuke isn’t interested in dating his childhood friend. I’m hoping the future episodes being released as OVAs will explore this further. Rating: 4