Oreimo 15 (Fin)

With this final web extra, Oreimo finally comes to a close on a happy note. Disturbed by a cryptic text from Kirino, Kyou totally brushes off a confession from Kuroneko (bastard) and dashes off to L.A. It’s a bit of a shame they don’t spend any time in America at all; he just takes a cab to her dorm, they play an eroge (her first since she arrived) and with a tearful confession of his own, convinces her to come back to Japan.

Kyou must’ve sensed the same thing his father did from those texts: she wasn’t doing to hot, and was going to proceed to keep working hard, perhaps too hard, to reach her goal of becoming a track star. Basically, it wasn’t working out. She swore she wouldn’t contact anyone back home until she beat another runner: three months later and no texts, save the ones instructing Kyou and her dad to toss her collection and trophies, respectively.

While Kyou kinda had to go and snap her out of her stubbornness, it’s still a bit disconcerting he so casually shot down Ruri, especially after her unprecedented spilling of her honest feelings. He made her happy caring for her. But this is a show where the imouto is the star, unfortunately for Ruri. So rather than be happy with an Ayase or Saori or Tamura or Ruri as his girlfriend, Kyou continues to live his life in service of others. He derives his happiness from making others happy. Pfft…what a weirdo! Rating: 3.5

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Oreimo 14

I really enjoyed Oreimo as a whole, but would have enjoyed it so much more if the multi-talented, cute-as-a-button Kuroneko/Ruri Goko was the focus, rather than Kirino and Kyousuke. These extra episodes have given Ruri the screen time she deserved, and she doesn’t disappoint. Her character’s growth is even more apparent when comparing her to Sena Akagi, who is more or less a nerdier, more perverted version of Kirino and simply not as interesting.

While last week she resented Kyousuke’s doting, this week she is much more receptive to it. Is Kyousuke supporting her simply because his real little sister is absent? That isn’t the whole picture. Even when Kirino was around, the two of them had their own independent rapport. The fact that Ruri can now comfortably hang out in his bedroom and even profess her affection for him (in a manner of speaking) suggests she’s no longer hung up on the belief she’s filling in for Kirino. Kyousuke would prefer he call her senpai, not nii-san.

Ruri is a finisher; when she sets her mind to something, she won’t back down or give up until that something is achieved. She swallows her pride and asks Sena to help with debugging her game. The game even wins an award, albeit for “Most Shitty Game”, but what matters is she got it done, and didn’t compromise her creative vision. The powerful, passionate speech she gives to the game club in her initial bid is one of Ruri’s finest moments. At this point, Ruri is also probably my favorite Kana Hanazawa character. Rather than simply ditzy or cutesy, she really gets to explore the full range of her voice. Rating: 4

Oreimo 13

I love the character of Kuroneko – or should I say, Ruri Gokou. This episode only reinforces that esteem. It’s hilarious that once Kyousuke starts doting upon her, she starts almost the exact same act as Kirino, an attitude expressed in the opening theme that is full of contradictions. Even so, I still like her. And she likes Kyousuke, she just doesn’t want him to pity her.

For Kyou’s part, while part of him is lonely without his sister, he’s not really interested in Kuroneko as a surrogate little sister. He even admits this to her, while she’s in his bed, no less! (though obviously, the reason she’s there is perfectly innocent.) He’s stoked from the get-go that she’s attending his school, and that their relationship needn’t be defined solely by Kirino. Tamura, his betrothed, is surprisingly unthreatened by her arrival, even electing to call her by her nickname (it’s pretty funny how long Kyousuke’s known this girl without knowing her name).

And while much of this episode is spent enriching the friendship Kyousuke and Kuroneko as she adjusts to the new school, we’re introduced to another otaku, who while initially quite proper and prudish, turns out to be the homo-game-loving little sister of one of his best mates (in addition to the game programming club president being a long-tenured student and the one who lent him his bike…nice tied loose ends!).

It’s pretty funny to watch Kyousuke and Kuroneko poke and prod until her inner otaku is drawn out for all to see. They even regret doing so to a degree, as they get more than they had initially bargained for. This girl, Akagi, also bends the fourth wall a bit by mentioning there are a lot of anime out there…like the one she’s in. Rating: 4

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

Oreimo 12 and Wrap-up (Until the Blu-ray)

Kirino seems to have made great strides in respecting her brother and what he’s done for her and on her behalf. She’s most pleasant and cordial to him as she announces their ‘final’ life-counseling session, involving him picking up a new eroge for her at a midnight release in Akiba. Everything goes smoothly until he discovers plane tickets – Kirino is headed to America – tomorrow.

First of all, I’m a little surprised that he had absolutely no knowledge of her travel plans, but that said, it wasn’t very nice of her to keep them from him. This would seem to be another test for Kyousuke: she seems to want him to tell her not to go, but he gets angry and tells her to definitely go, she beats him up (one more episode, one more indignity to suffer…) She tells him he doesn’t like her, and she doesn’t like him right back – but like the lyrics to the opening song, she’s likely to mean the opposite of what she says.

Case in point: she doesn’t go to America, much to Kyousuke’s delight. She then lists off all the reasons she stayed, without mentioning him once. This girl… So life continues pretty much as it had. Only she warns: the life counseling isn’t over. This is true, in a way, because four more episodes of Oreimo will be on the Blu-ray, including an new ending. Makes sense, considering the theme of the show. Otakus be lovin’ the extras. So we shan’t say goodbye to Oreimo; merely ‘see you later’. Rating: 3.5

Series Mean Rating: 3.500 (Ranked 6th out of 15 Fall 2010 Series)

Kirino seems to have made great strides in respecting her brother and what he’s done for her and on her behalf. Their ‘final’ life-counseling session involves him picking up a new eroge for her at a midnight release in Akiba. Everything goes smoothly until he discovers plane tickets – Kirino is headed to America – tomorrow. 

First of all, I’m a little surprised that he had absolutely no knowledge of her travel plans, but that said, it wasn’t very nice of her to keep them from him. This would seem to be another test for Kyousuke: she seems to want him to tell her not to go, but he gets angry and tells her to definitely go, she beats him up (one more episode, one more indignity to suffer…) She tells him he doesn’t like her, and she doesn’t like him right back – but like the lyrics to the opening song, she’s likely to mean the opposite of what she says.

Case in point: she doesn’t go to America, much to Kyousuke’s delight. She then lists off all the reasons she stayed, without mentioning him once. This girl… So life continues pretty much as it had. Only she warns: the life counseling isn’t over. This is true, in a way, because four more episodes of Oreimo will be on the Blu-ray, including an new ending. Makes sense, considering the theme of the show. Otakus be lovin’ the extras. So we shan’t say goodbye to Oreimo; merely ‘see you later’. Rating: 3.5

Oreimo 11

After eleven weeks of Kirino berating and abusing Kyousuke, I was starting to question their value as human beings: her for doing it; him for letting her. The apparent last straw is when Manami comes over out of the kindness of her heart to cook lunch. There’s no excuse for “Mother-in-law” Kirino treating Manami like she does, and no excuse for Kyousuke to let her do so. Sabotaging his room with glasses-girl porn may have been a bad move though; if anything it may have made Manami even more interested in him. Still…why didn’t he just, you know, close the laptop???

Just when I fear Kirino is turning into a jealous Sora (from Yosuga no), Kyousuke arrives at a party Saori has been organizing where she, Kirino and Kuroneko dress as maids. Turns out it’s to thank him for helping Kirino out and introducing her to friends she can talk to about anime. It’s also the venue for Kirino to finally, properly, earnestly apologize for the way she’s treated Kyousuke, and relay her appreciation for his admittedly extensive efforts on her behalf. That’s better! I’ll also mention that Kuroneko’s whole manga presentation was hilarious, as were the siblings’ reaction to it. The series looks like it’s headed to a solid, if quiet, finish. Rating: 4

Oreimo 10

This week is what I like to call a “gift” episode. By that, I mean a character wants to acquire a very hard-to-obtain gift for a friend, and so must join forces with other characters to meet the conditions of obtaining said gift. In this case, it’s Ayase, trying hard to be a good friend to Kirino despite objecting to her hobby. The gift is a one-of-a-kind Meruru figure; but it’s the prize for winning a cosplay contest in Akiba – so faithfully rendered, I quickly recognized many of its landmarks from my visit there, including the Gundam Cafe.

I’ll just say it’s awfully gutsy – and cheeky – for Kyousuke to suggest this particular gift idea to Ayase, knowing full well it would mean asking her to dress up like a character in an indecent anime. (An aside: Ayase and Kirino are voiced by the same seiyus as Arashiko and Mio in MM!; both pairs are friends, and both pairs have issues). Anyway, Ayase declines to dress up, and instead conscripts a model friend of hers who is clearly a ringer.

This is the first time we meet Kanako, who when dolled up, looks exactly like Meruru and wins the contest easily. She’s a bit uppity at times, but seems to genuinely enjoy her role in this crusade. I wonder if we’ve seen the last of her. Meanwhile, I’d like to think Kyousuke has gained some points from Ayase for being so decent and cooperative (though I wouldn’t have so carelessly left her alone amidst all those “male adult” Meruru fans), and yet again, he’s had a role in Kirino’s happiness that she knows nothing about. He’s a good brother…probably why Saori supports him and Kuroneko likes him. Rating: 3.5

Oreimo 9

This nice, quiet little episode had a very slice-of-life feel, as Kyousuke, Kirino, Kuroneko and Saori were all in their respective habitats, each doing their own thing while thinking about the others. Kirino is playing a highly-anticipated new eroge while Kyousuke is studying in his room. One of the imouto characters treats her very similarly to the way she treats Kyousuke; with an air of superiority and unpredictable bitchiness. The parallels between this character and the game’s narrative aren’t lost on Kirino, who seems simultaneously annoyed and guilty about it.

Meanwhile, we see the home version of Kuroneko – without her gothic dress or red contacts, keeping her cute little sister (she has one!) entertained while sewing away. Suddenly, she gets a call from Kyousuke. It’s great how he just called her out of the blue, and they proceed to have this very genial, natural conversation. With everything these two have been through together – often in Kirino’s shadow – it’s not surprising that they’d end up as friends.

Finally, we have Saori…whose face isn’t ever shown in her one scene, but we discover that she is a tall, prim, proper, filthy rich aristocrat who has multiple servants. She has prepared three maid costumes for herself and her two otaku friends. Interesting twist, but not as interesting as Kyousuke and Kuroneko’s interaction in this episode…mad props to Kana Hanazawa for delivering an excellent voice performance. As for Kirino, well…let’s just say she’s definitely got some things to work out. Rating: 3.5

Oreimo 8

We get a little Bakuman mixed in with our Oreimo this week, as Kirino’s manga is selected to be an anime. She arrives at the studio, Kuroneko and Saori in tow – to meet with the production staff, arms bursting with notes, but most of her ideas are ignored or rejected. It turns out that her anime is just a half-season, and it’s filling a gap left by another canceled anime. The producers aren’t interested in satisfying Kirino, but making a buck quickly and without too much effort. When Kirino returns home she’s out of gas; collapsing into Kyousuke’s arms. He knows something’s up and meets with Saori and Kuroneko (at Akiba’s Gundam Cafe, where I’ve been). They lay it on him, and he decides to spring into gear once more and plead for the producers not to completely change her story. They even want to change the lead from a guy to a girl.

He arranges to meet them as Kirino’s proxy – Kuroneko and Saori in tow again – and almost makes things worse, until Kuroneko speaks up. She confesses her intense envy towards Kirino, and detects that same envy and pride in one of the producers. Neither of them had the easy success Kirino has had up to this point, and this goes for Kyousuke as well. Kirino is perfect at everything and things just fall into her lap. Kuroneko doesn’t understand why Kirino’s book was popular and sold well enough to get an anime, but it did, and she just has to deal with it, as does the jealous producer. They can’t use that frustration as an excuse. Kyousuke then makes an impassioned plea for them to think about making her changes. They ultimately agree, but Kirino is unaware of how much of that was thanks to her frenemy and brother.

On the train home, Kuroneko asks him why he does so much for his sister. It’s obvious that she’s an only child: you do things for your sibling because they’re your sibling. That’s the obvious reason, but who knows, perhaps Kyousuke has another. Regardless, this episode was full of great speeches and debate, and pretty well illustrated the tribulations that can come with developing anime adaptations. Rating: 3.5

Oreimo 7



Kyousuke arrives home to find a dark, empty house…but when he switches on the lights, Kuroneko of all people is in the living room. Kirino is upstairs playing eroge. He apparently arrived right after an argument between them. He then proceeds to have all but identical, consecutive conversations with Kuroneko and Kirino. These exchanges further reinforce the fact that these two are more alike than they’d be willing to admit, and that although on the surface they despise each other, there’s a real friendship brewing, if only they’d let it.

The balance of the episode consists of Kyousuke entertaining Kirino’s ambitions to become a writer of novels, her having already submitted one online and gotten a publishing offer. She drags Kyousuke to Shibuya for “research”, which is really nothing more than a Christmas Eve date. The awkwardness of this situation isn’t lost on either when, after Kirino dumps a bucket of water on herself (where’d she get that, anyway?), they have to retreat to a hotel room so she can shower and change.

Kirino is as oblivious and surprised as ever (at least on the surface) whenever Kyousuke points out little details like her obsession with little-sister themed media. I’m trying to figure out whose mind is more warped: Kirino for being so into this stuff in the first place, or Kyousuke for always connecting the dots so callously. After all, there is a wide wide divide between fiction and real life. Rating: 3.5

Oreimo 6

This episode is dominated not by Kirino, but by Kyousuke’s interaction with his childhood friend, Manami. It’s been hinted in every episode in which she appears that she likes him, and Kyousuke has been all but oblivious until now. Manami’s grandparents aren’t subtle about wanting to pair the two up, and frankly, I can’t say I blame them.

Unfortunately, neither Kyousuke nor Manami are bold enough to take the next step; besides the fact that this particular night is a bit too forced, they both cherish the friendship they have and don’t want to ruin it; that’s natural. But the only thing stopping them from marriage and a happy future is their own timidity…and neither of them seem interested in anyone else, unless you count the girl Kyousuke totally skeezed out last episode.

Kirino’s few short scenes show her frustration that Kyousuke isn’t around. Whether she’s just used to the idea of him always being there, or she’s more specifically jealous that he’s with another girl, I cannot say. But considering her hobbies, the latter isn’t outside the realm of possibility. Rating: 3.5

Oreimo 5

The drama is taken up a notch, but it’s good drama, with exemplary voice-work by all involved. Ayase, who was very friendly and polite when we met her, suddenly goes apeshit on Kirino, unilaterally cutting off the friendship when she discovers Kirino’s…secret. Ayase doesn’t know much about otaku-ism, but from what she does know is that it can sap a person’s humanity and lead to criminal activity. She cannot and will not associate with anyone interested in…that stuff.

Because Kirino is a beautiful top student and an accomplished athlete, she is also a prime example that Ayase’s interpretation is neither fair nor complete. Ayase’s underlying motivation is her belief that Kirino cares more about anime than their friendship. To her, this feels like a betrayal. Add to that the fact Kirino did lie to her and never so much as mention this very important aspect of her life. Most best friends would be understandably hurt by this. In the end, they make up because Kirino makes it clear, she needs Ayase and anime, not one or the other.

I also felt quite sorry for Kirino’s brother: he had to act fast to get Ayase to make up with his sister, so he feigns another humiliating confession that makes him a disgusting pervert in Ayase’s eyes and kills any chance he might have had at her. One wonders what his devoted, ‘plain’ childhood friend who wants to marry him will feel if she finds out about all this otaku nonsense. Rating: 3.5

Oreimo 4

In a series with several otaku as among the main characters, an episode was inevitably going to involve Summer Comiket, and this is it. Before that, however, Kirino has her ‘normal’ friends over and orders Kyousuke to stay out of sight. He doesn’t, and one of the girls (voiced by Saki from Eden of the East) seemingly takes a liking to him.

Fast forward to Tokyo Big Sight, which is a really nice depiction of an enormous, bustling convention in the dead of summer. Lots of waiting in line and crowds and battling staff members at video games, there’s a great energy to it all. And then that girl I mentioned before, who liked Kyousuke, she sees Kirino fresh out of Comiket – and the two worlds collide.

The thing is, this girl Ayase doesn’t sound that bad. She witnessed Kyousuke in the classic “falling on a girl and breaking the fall with her boob” – with his sister, no less. But rather than overreact, Ayase knew it was simply an accident and, unpredictably, didn’t judge him. So maybe she won’t judge Kirino for being an otaku. We’ll See. Rating: 3.5