Eromanga-sensei – 11

No Emily and no Muramasa this week: it’s just Masamune and Sagiri, with the latter trying so hard to welcome the former home in the foyer (and in a swimsuit), only to retreat to her room at the last minute. When the launch date of the novel they collaborated on arrives, Masamune takes a trip to the bookstore in Akiba with Sagiri in tow—in the form of a streaming tablet; a “sibling date” as Masamune puts it.

That journey becomes the vehicle for some pretty hefty reminiscing for both Masamune and Sagiri. After his mom died, Masamune decided writing stories online was the thing that made him happy, which made his family happy.

The reason writing made him happy? There was someone who found his stories interesting and would chat and text with him about it all the time. That person was Sagiri, but he didn’t—and still doesn’t—know that. Meanwhile, Sagiri, who had no dad, found drawing fun because someone liked her illustrations—Masamune, natch.

He even helped motivate her to go back to school and ask her mom to teach her more about illustrating, as both basically agreed to cut off their ephemeral relationship to realize their mutual dreams to become professionals in their respective arts. And they did!

That’s all well and good, and it is nice to see Masamune and Sagiri getting on so well while not technically related by marriage, though that’s what happens later on. These are two people who have always, at the end of the day, relied on one another to fill the hole of praise and support left by the absent parent in their lives, as well as serve as catalysts for their growth as writer and artist.

What I’m a little dubious about is that Masamune started writing these stories when he was only eleven damn years old, and Sagiri started reading them and drawing when she was only seven. That’s…really frikkin’ young to be having such a nuanced online relationship of mutual creative support with someone.

Then again, these two aren’t your normal youths. Also, a big chunk of the cast of Oreimo pops up at the end, with Kirino and Ruri debating the potential of Masamune’s new novel. Even Kyousuke and Masamune’s eyes meet. But just hearing such enthusiastic discussion about his work makes Masamune happy, which was the whole point of this all along. And when he comes home from Akiba, Sagiri does manage to greet him in the foyer.

15 Great Characters from 2013

We showed you whose voices we liked this past year, now let’s take a look at some of our favorite characters. Mind you, this isn’t a ranking, just an alphabetical list.

Bell Hydra (Blood Lad)

Bell was our favorite character from this relatively so-so show, because you never quite knew whose side she was on, or rather she was always on her own side, and always tried to stay on top. Her magical trickery was more than a match for Staz’s brute force, regularly frustrating him to no end. And then she fell for the guy. We also liked her sense of style, as she’d randomly change outfits throughout the run.

Chamber (Suisei no Gargantia)

Ledo’s trusty, badass Machine Caliber wasn’t just a tool, or the brunt of numerous sight gags as he performed manual labor, but a character in his own right, with his own arc that paralleled Ledo’s. The strict Galactic Alliance subroutines that drove his behavior gradually softened the more time he spent on Earth, to the point he rebelled against authority and sacrificed himself to save his pilot.

Ebisugawa Kaisei (Uchouten Kazoku)

By the time we actually see Kaisei in human form, it’s nine episodes into the show. But before that she’s seemingly always around in disguise (something she excels at), including at crucial point in one of the show’s many flashbacks. As Yasaburou’s would-be fiancee, she represents the peace that was meant to be struck between the families, and her playful banter with Yasaburou always tinged with a kind of quasi-spousal loyalty. She even plays the heroine by freeing Yashirou when things get hairy.

Gokou Ruri (Oreimo 2)

When she showed up at the Akiba real-world meetup in the second episode of the first Oreimo, we would have never guessed how far Kuroneko would come, leapfrogging over all others to become the best character on the show. As Kyousuke struggles with his relationship with Kirino, he also independently forms a bond with ‘Neko, who gets better the more sides of her we see: be it at home, at school, and in girlfriend and post-girlfriend modes.

Goto Hidenori (Samurai Flamenco)

While he may look good in uniform to some, Goto is neither a model, idol, or gaudy superhero. He’s just an ordinary guy with a quiet police gig with a loving long-distance girlfriend and a modest abode. As things go absolutely apeshit around him, he stays grounded, even when driving pink Hummers into rockets. All these superheroes and villains around him have made life a lot more interesting, but it hasn’t changed the decent, unassuming man that he is. He’s the show’s steady anchor.

Hayashida “Linda” Nana (Golden Time)

While she delayed her response to her longtime childhood friend’s confession by mere hours, Linda ends up losing everything once he gets amnesia, has his feelings for her resurface year later when they reunite in college, and he then decides to distance himself from her so he can focus on his girlfriend, after much will-they-won’t-they teasing. It’s a shame she has to go through so much, considering she’s such a kind, caring, beautiful person. But the cookie just didn’t crumble her way.

Kaga Koko (Golden Time)

Koko is one of the most interesting characters of the year because of how quickly she transitions from irritating crazed shrew to sympathetic love interest. After chasing the wrong guy for years, she finds Banri. She’s not as perfect as she looks, but she’s very tough on herself, constantly trying to be a better person and girlfriend. Considering what her status as Banri’s girl means to Linda, you’d think she’d be a character to be loathed, but the show excels at making everyone’s situation understandable and sympathetic.

Kaiki Deishu (Monogatari Series: Second Season)

We first met him in Nisemonogatari, where he was unveiled as the con-man who gave Senjougahara crabs (well, it’s not quite that simple…) but in any case, he was something of an easygoing villain: powerful, but not particularly motivated. In Koimonogatari, he’s given a mission by that same Senjougahara in her time of dire need, hits the town, and gets to work. It’s been extremely enjoyable watching him playing the role of hardboiled private eye, father figure, even unspoken love interest.

Katsuragi Keima (Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai: Megami-hen)

The second season of The World God Only Knows wasn’t as good as the first, but this third one was excellent, as all the chickens come home to roost and things get infinitely more complicated for our cynical, bespectacled gamer. Keima is most effective (and entertaining) when his back’s against the wall, but this season he also actually ended up feeling something for his conquests. There’s no easy reset button for him, which showed growth.

Kotoura Haruka (Kotoura-san)

Kotoura-san may be an almost disgustingly adorable character, but the show wastes no time establishing precisely the kind of person she is and why, based on a traumatic past in which her parents basically abandoned her. Watching her transition from looking at herself as a curse upon all who associate her to someone with worth who deserves a happy life with caring friends (and a boyfriend) was immensely fulfilling.

Mankanshokou Mako (Kill la Kill)

We touched on this in Suzaki Aya’s profile; Mako has made the full transition from goofy comic relief sidekick to full-fledged crucial participant in the overarching drama of Kill la Kill. She’s the one who first reached out to Ryuuko, opened up her home to her, gave her the family life she never had, and then snapping her out of a near-fatal frenzy. She’s also not afraid to speak her mind to everyone, be it Ryuuko, Elite Four, Satsuki, or Nui.

Nakamura Sawa (Aku no Hana)

An example of a character we liked precisely because she scared the hell out of us. A part of that fear comes from the intense realism of the series. Subtle human movements that more stylized animation wouldn’t pick up are on full display, and Sawa slinks and slithers across the screen, and sometimes breaks into sudden startling movements while messing with Takao. Yet for all of the mayhem she causes in his life, she’s far from evil incarnate: she’s an intensely frustrated young woman, a victim of the benign dullness of the town that doubles as her prison.

Nana (Golden Time)

Nana is one of the best supporting characters we’ve come across this year, someone with a fierce sense of individuality who forces people to either accept her or fuck off, and gives off the air of not caring about anyone, when the polar opposite is true: Nana turns out to be both a caring reliable friend to Linda (and unwitting would-be matchmaker) and a decent neighbor to Banri. Hopefully his disassociation from Linda won’t mean much less Nana.

Shimogamo Yajirou (Uchouten Kazoku)

Like Kaisei, part of what we love about Yaijioru is how much impact he makes despite how little we see of him. For the vast majority of the show he’s a frog in the bottom of a well, where he tries to forget his life as a human, which he deemed as an abject failure. As another victim of the Ebisugawas, he was forced to believe he was responsible for getting his father cooked. Even when the truth came out, it took getting him drunk to spring into action to save his family, but his contribution was vital.

Wakamiya Shinobu (Chihayafuru 2)

Another supporting character introduced as a “big bad” in the first season, the brilliant, quirky, melancholy Queen Shinobu plays a much larger role in the second, showing us her past and how heavy is the head that wears the crown, as she simply isn’t interested in team matches or fulfilling any of the royal responsibilities expected of her. She and Arata also spend a lot of time together, making her a rival to Chihaya in love as well as karuta.

Images Courtesy MyAnimeList

Oreimo 2 – 14

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Some time after rejecting Ayase, Kyousuke hangs out with Ruri more. But with Christmas approaching, he decides its time to tell her he can’t go out with her either, as he loves someone else. Ruri tears up the Destiny Record, lifts her curse on him, and transforms into the angel of revenge, “Yamineko,” cursing him, all those who love, and the whole world. Kyousuke asks Kirino to go on a Christmas Eve date in Akiba, and she grudingly agrees. Later in the evening, after a failed attempt and a chase (aided by Saori in Kaori’s car), Kyousuke confesses his undying love for Kirino and wants her to stay in Japan and marry him.

Christmas came early this morning, in the form of the extra Oreimo episodes. The last season’s extra eps told an alternate story and changed the ending, but this episode progresses the story past the pleasant status quo by having Kyousuke go against all common sense and decency and destroy all his potential relationships with girls not related to him by blood so he can tell his own little sister he’s in love with her. He knows it’s ridiculous and creepy, but he can’t help it. At the end of the day those are his feelings, and he’d never be able to live lives with the other girls having never acted on those feelings.

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Breaking up with Ruri takes just five minutes, but they’re a damned rough five minutes. Hana-Kana knocks it out of the park as usual with her powerful, multi-faceted, scorched-earth response. Though Kyousuke’s rejection didn’t take her by surprise, when the reality of what was happening started to sink in, she got more and more worked up, abandoning all propriety, and screaming and cursing everything and everyone. In the past we’d be booing at the television (we were always rooting for Ruri), we understood that this was the way the plot was progressing, and Kyousuke’s motives made sense, so we went with the flow here.

Which brings us to Kyousuke’s potentially self-destructive decision to finally confess to Kirino. She tries to run from the truth (and she’s a good runner) but Kyousuke’s pals (including the scorned Yamineko) support him in his enterprise by giving him a lift (in an Itasha Nissan Cube) and broadcasting a recording of his rejection speech to Ruri. He puts it all out there, and while Kirino’s initial response is of revulsion and hatred, he presses the issue, proposes, and her armor finally cracks. But there’s just one slight problem: you can’t legally marry your little sister in Japan…or anywhere else, for that matter. Don’t go Yosuga no Sora on us now, Oreimo!

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • This episode was well-prepared to stick the knife in and twist it during the Kuroneko break-up. Not only was it preceded by some of the most adorable scenes between the two (him teaching her how to swim, her feeding him in full cosplay regalia), but also showed flashes of their entire relationship as she brutally tore her Destiny Record to shreds.
  • Hell, they even cut to her little sisters wondering if/when Kyousuke would come back to visit…poor kids! T_T
  • Kirino wears the same outfit to her Akiba date with Kyousuke as she did last year, including pink Uggs, which not just anyone can pull off.
  • Kyousuke and Kirinos were no doubt both encouraged and a little scared when they saw Akagi in line with his little sister Sena pretending to be a couple to get deals on BL eroge.
  • We have no idea where that tiny little “Yes” by Kirino is going to lead them…which is why we’ll have to watch the next episode immediately.

Oreimo 2 – 11

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Kyousuke and Kirino’s mom is suspicious of their sudden closeness. Their father isn’t worried, but he does want Kyousuke to ace his mock exam, and so arranges him to move into his own place to study in peace. The first night, Kanako stops by with food she made, as she wants to set things right with her parents. Early the next morning Ayase stops by with a housewarming gift, a kitchen knife. Kuroneko also pays him a visit, and she and Ayase immediately clash. Kuroneko assures Ayase that whatever her relationship to Kyousuke, his soul is hers and hers alone, and would love him even if he slept with Kirino. After Ayase leaves, Kyousuke tells Kuroneko he needs time to settle things with Kirino before dating anyone; Kuroneko concurs.

It’s perfectly reasonable to see Kyousuke putting his happiness on hold for his little sister’s sake, because that’s what he’s always done, but that oversimplifies matters. The truth is, he himself would never be happy if his happiness comes at the cost of Kirino’s. So he figures he has to find some way of “settling things” with her before deciding to date Kuroneko again. Kuroneko is also very reasonable and patient in this instance, partly because she’s in this for the long haul (her feelings for Kyousuke haven’t changed), and partially because she considers herself Kirino’s very best friend.

Preceding this week’s very welcome appearance by Kuroneko (in her new uniform, bearing an impeccable lunch) is a somewhat awkward family meeting in which Kyousuke and Kirino’s mom comes right out and voices her…concern over her kids’ behavior towards one another (Maybe she’s seen Yosuga no Sora?). Kanako’s drop-in was kinda random; fleshing out her story is all well and good, but we’re hardly invested in her this late in the series. As for Ayase, it was good to see her mendacity and facades butt up against Kuroneko’s brutal, divine honesty (the two even come to arms in an excellent fantasy battle scene). She even calls Kuroneko a pervert, but Kuroneko doesn’t care. “What of it, bitch? I’m in love!

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Oreimo 2 – 09

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On the first day back at school, Kyousuke finds out Kuroneko has transferred to another school. She’s also moved out of her house and won’t answer her phone. That night, Kyousuke wakes Kirino and asks for advice. When Kirino sees how sad he is, she has to help, and they head to a hot spring town to look for Kuroneko. They find her by chance; she makes Kirino admit she never wanted him to have girlfriend, but she also says seeing how sad he was when Kuroneko left was even worse. Before Kyousuke can tell Kuroneko what he’s going to do, she passes out. When she comes to, she says her family’s only moving to Matsudo, which isn’t that far, so while Kyousuke won’t see her at school anymore, he’ll still be able to see her, as will Kirino.

Well…that was odd…and not what we were expecting at all. But it wasn’t bad, either. Things get pretty bad early in the episode, when we learn that not only did last week’s written break-up stand (begging the question how the two separated that night, which is never answered), but she seems to have fallen off the face of the earth. In the end, Kuroneko’s breakup and departure turned out to be a combination of family circumstances she couldn’t control (dad gets a new job, family moving to company housing) and part of a rather sinister plan to make Kirino tell her her true feelings, not accepting that she was fine with her dating Kyousuke. Still, the stunt she pulls on Kyousuke is cruel and awful, and we’d have trouble letting her off the hook completely. Of course, love can make one very forgiving.

For her plan to have worked, Kyousuke and Kirino had to run into Kuroneko just when they did, while she was on vacation, which has less to do with their determination to find her and bring her back, and less pure dumb luck. Then again, Kuroneko has always believed in destiny; she has a whole journal of her life drawn out, so we’ll forgive that. And the plan does work. Kirino finally tells her she wanted to be the most important person in Kyousuke’s life…but, but…not at the cost of his happiness. At first she was happy when Kuroneko dumped him, but that didn’t last, because it left Kyousuke a wreck (understandably). So now, with Kuroneko moving away, albeit not far, it’s logical to assume we’ll see less of her and perhaps less of her and Kyousuke. And that doesn’t make us happy at all. But hey, at least they’re still a couple…sorta…

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • Anything worse than sending a text you really want answered, and it’s never responded to? This is why you don’t text for these kinds of things!
  • Kirino is actually pretty selfless and cool this week, doing everything she can to help Kyousuke, because he helped her so much. 
  • She even tells him its no good for Kyousuke not to date anyone until she dates someone, because that would make him unhappy as she’d be if he dated someone. Oroboros!
  • While it probably didn’t make sense to believe this, we’d always thought Ruri lived alone with her sisters. She didn’t mention a parent until last week, and we’ve yet to see either of them. 
  • More nice symmetry: Kyousuke climbing on Kirino in bed in the night to ask for advice, just like she did to him in the very first episode.

Oreimo 2 – 08

Gokou Ruri, Kousaka Kyousuke

Kuroneko, now the sacred “Kamineko” goes on her first date with Kyousuke. They go shopping, gaming, and have lunch in the park, and it’s all very pleasant. The next day Kyousuke visits Ruri’s house. After watching an anime, she goes to the bath, and her little sisters meet Kyousuke. The next day Ruri hangs out with Kyousuke at his place. Kirino suspects something’s up and barges in on them, but they’re just playing a game. They also go to see fireworks. With only a few days left of summer, Ruri unveils the last ceremony to perform: breaking up with Kyousuke.

Oreimo giveth, and Oreimo taketh away. Let’s get it out of the way, as surprised as we were that the show did the right thing by making Kyousuke and Kuroneko a couple, we knew, despite our initial excitement, that it probably wouldn’t last that long, so we knew we had to savor the bliss while it lasted. Turns out, barring the first ceremony in Ruri’s Destiny Record to not occur, we were right; this is the only episode in which Kuroneko and Kyousuke are together throughout. And if you’re not a fan of Kuroneko or this new union, then it was a pretty rough and tedious episode to watch. As for us, we loved every last moment.

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The couple takes to dating with gusto, with Ruri even changing her cosplay persona and handle to something less sinister. In her mind, she was once a fallen angel, but Kyousuke raised her up, andthey don’t waste their summer together. They go out a ton, have lots of fun, and Kyousuke ends up learning far more about Ruri and liking her much more than before. We love seeing Kyousuke like this, because lord knows he’s earned the right to have an normal relationship with a smart, beautiful girl who isn’t his sister. Too bad it may be that Kuroneko never meant for their relationship to last past the summer.

Kuroneko is still in love with Kyousuke, but she’s also a good and selfless person…maybe too selfless. When she sees how Kirino reacts to her being in Kyousuke’s room as his girlfriend, and Kirino declares her her friend, and can’t stick around hang out with them, we kinda had a feeling this would happen before the hammer falls in the last moments. Kuroneko’s ultimate goal is for both Kyousuke and her friend Kirino to be happy. She can’t see how Kirino could ever be happy with her friend dating Kirino’s brother, so she can’t keep dating him.

Frankly, if we were Ruri, we’d tell Kirino what she told a bruised Kyousuke in their opening scene: “Deal with it.” Sometimes our own happiness comes at the cost of others.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

  • Kamineko’s get-up is indeed quite audacious, but if we were Kyousuke we really wouldn’t mind either.
  • Kyousuke worries about getting a nosebleed from holding Kamineko’s soft, dainty paw, but it’s Kamineko who gets the nosebleed. Kya.
  • We lost it just as Kyousuke did when she suddenly went to the bathroom. Surely she doesn’t want to move that fast?!
  • Ruri’s sister Hinata is a smart cookie. We hope she’ll scold her big sis for dumping Kyousuke.
  • When Kirino put her ear to the wall and heard Kuroneko say things that could definitely be misconstrued…
  • Bravo to Hanazawa Kana for a surperb, layered performance. Ruri has many different ways of speaking depending on whom she’s talking to and what role she’s playing.
  • Poor Kyousuke. Can he convince Ruri to reconsider? We doubt it.

 

Oreimo 2 – 07

Kousaka Kyousuke, Gokou Ruri

Ruri doubles down on her confession to Kyousuke, telling him she’s sure she loves him more than anyone else. He begs her to let him think about it, and she gives him until tomorrow, after the re-party. Back at home he and Kirino finish making up, and Kirino make shim promise to give serious thought if the “other girl” confesses to him. Manami also tells him to “face Kuroneko sincerely.” After the party, Kyousuke agrees to go out with Ruri. They later plan to meet up in the video game club, where everyone already assumed they’d been going out a long time. After expressing ignorance about what a boyfriend should do, Kyousuke suggests they do what she’s written (and illustrated) in her “Destiny Record”, starting with a first date.

This time, I need to do things right…

Damn straight! What do you know, Oreimo actually surprised us this week! We were fully resigned to Kyousuke further stalling or at worst, outright rejecting Ruri so that he can continue his dead-end quasi-romance with his little sister. Instead, after receiving (sorta)best wishes from both Kirino and his long-suffering betrothed Manami, Kyousuke finally makes the right choice: he chooses Kuroneko. And we couldn’t be happier! Interestingly, this doesn’t mean he’s betraying or abandoning Kirino, just that he’s finally realized they’re two different kinds of love. What’s also great is that while there is some building up, his deliberation doesn’t take up the whole episode. She has his answer by the commercial break. And thus, a huge weight is lifted.

What follows is a second-half that just about makes up for all of the will-they-wont-they torture the last one-and-a-half seasons of the series. Both Kyousuke’s sudden excitement and Ruri’s dilating joy is contagious to behold. She looked as surprised as we were when Kyousuke actually said yes, and the scene when her little sisters see her “break” with giddiness is a lovely, adorable moment. We’re as glad as she is that after creating such a compelling love interest and steadily yet naturally building up her attraction to Kyousuke, the series finally pulled the trigger on a Kyou+Ruri path, and as far as we’re concerned, now that it’s a reality, every minute the happy new couple isn’t on the screen together being awesome is a minute wasted. Sorry Kirino.

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Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • Kirino’s fake boyfriend shows up. He’s useless with advice on boob-touching.
  • Kyousuke, Kirino, and Ruri apologize to Saori for ruining the previous party. As well they should!
  • It sounded an awful lot like Kirino gave Kyousuke her blessing, so we don’t want to hear her complaining next week!
  • Here’s hoping Kyousuke and Ruri start calling each other by name. We know, we’re pushing our luck.
  • This week’s Aku no Hana was so powerful and Ise Mariya’s performance as Nakamura Sawa was so compelling, that we had a visceral reaction when Akagi Sena (also Ise) started talking.

Oreimo 2 – 06

Kousaka Kyousuke, Gokou Ruri

Kirino introduces Kyousuke, Ruri, and Saori to Mikagami Kouki. Ayase invites Kyousuke to her house and handcuffs him until he explains the photo of him and Kirino on a date. While walking to Kyousuke’s house, Ruri confesses her love to him again. The after-Comiket party turns sour when Kirino forcefully announces she’s dating Mikagami. Ruri leaves in disgust, and Kirino and Kyousuke fight. The next day Kirino brings Mikagami to her house to meet her parents, but her dad retreats to his room to drink.

Kyousuke is hostile towards Mikigami and gets slapped by Kirino. After spending some time with his dad, he returns and apologizes, then lets Kirino know his honest feelings: he doesn’t want her going out with other guys. She and Mikagami reveal they’re not really dating; it ws a ruse to make Kyousuke feel what she feels when he’s flirting with Manami or Ruri. Kyousuke meets with Ruri to invite her to a new party, and learns she and Kirino have made up. Ruri then asks him to go out with her.

Kousaka Kyousuke, Kousaka Kirino, Mikagami Kouki

Both Kyousuke and Kirino seem to find peace in their bond as it stands, and whenever another variable enters their orbit, one of the other is unsettled, starting off a “commotion.” This time, it’s Kirino who is none to happy about Kyousuke’s inroads with “The Plain One” (Manami) and “The Black One” (Ruri). She cannot hide her contempt about another girl stealing his dear brother away, so she attempts to turn the tables of jealousy on him by pretending she has already replaced him with a rich, talented, attractive Mikagami. Here’s the thing, and we want to be clear on this point: it would have been better if Mikagami were her real boyfriend. If she had someone all her own to lean on.

That would finally free Kyousuke to pursue relationship with another girl who isn’t his sister. Ruri is ready, willing, and able to be that girl, and her moments of barely-restrained overflowing lovesickness are some of the highlights of this episode. But after Kirino laid out her distaste for Kyousuke getting too close to another girl, particularly that girl, we simply can’t see anything other than Ruri getting her heart broken yet again. We hope we’re wrong, but considering the track record of this series, pairing them up seems  unlikely. We’ve always preferred Kuroneko to Kirino, to the point where sometimes we think we’re torturing ourselves watching a show that will always put Kirino first.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • While one can kinda justify Kyousuke’s meeting with Ayase as providing evidence Kirino was lying about having a boyfriend (Ayase would be the first to know such a thing) the scene took away time better spent on the Kirino and Ruri storylines, and felt extraneous.
  • Saori briefly takes off her disguise for Kyousuke! We had hoped she’d do away with it altogether, however.
  • It was nice to see the two Kousaka men commisterating, but we like how Daisuke’s pathetic behavior spured Kyousuke into going back downstairs to settle things.
  • Kyousuke shows some spine this week, but he still doesn’t pass up any opportunity to grovel before his sister, does he?
  • Ruri continues to exude critical levels of cuteness. Though she may be slight in stature, she dominates every scene.

Oreimo 2 – 05

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Kyousuke pretends to be Kirino’s boyfriend to convince a modeling agency that she can’t go abroad. It seems to work, but when Kyousuke suggests they go out on a date the next day, they must follow through. After the date, Kirino insinuates she has a real boyfriend, worrying Kyousuke. Ruri tells him she wouldn’t mind if Kirino did. Kyousuke, Kirino and Saori and Ruri go to the Summer Comiket, and they sell out the Maschera doujinshi they made together. While watching a Meruru movie, Kirino is confronted by a young man.

Both Kyousuke and Kirino would prefer to keep everything about their relationship left unsaid between them, whenever possible. The truth is they both care for one another deeply, but neither wants the other to come right out and admit it. When Kirino has said nice things about her brother, it certainly wasn’t when he was present. So when they have to pretend to be a convincing couple (for a pretty flimsy reason, frankly) and they’re asked why they love one another, they’re actually open and honest about it, because they feel they have to be.

That was sweet, and the date is more fun than we thought it would be, but where this episode really shines is pretty much whenever Ruri is on the screen. From her reaction to seeing the “happy couple”, to her unexpected appearance in normal clothes (a Menma-like white dress), to the resumption of talking and having fun with Kyousuke, Ruri proves yet again why she’s our favorite character. That Kirino has a boyfriend neither surprises nor bothers us like it does Kyousuke, because that will just mean he can spend more time with the lovely “Shironeko”.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Stray Observations:

  • Both Kirino and Kyousuke clearly have way more fun on their date than either would ever admit.
  • It is nice to see Kyousuke and Ruri acting like a normal guy and gal. There are a couple moments when Kirino is watching them and we can’t help but see the same jealousy she mocked Kyousuke for having when she mentioned her boyfriend.
  • Those Summer Comiket lines look brutal, but we like the rule about closing the gaps!

Oreimo 2 – 01

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Thanks to Kyousuke convincing her, Kirino is back in Japan and catching up with all her friends, but even a year after everything began, she’s back to ignoring him and geting hostile when he tries to talk to her. Kuroneko is also short with him until he asks her what she meant by her kiss, but Sena interrupts before she can say anything. Tomorrow Kirino invites Kyousuke to accompany her on a massive shopping spree at Akiba, and when they return home, more eroge arrives via mail. As thanks, Kirino gives him one to play one through.

Oreimo returns with a reversion of sorts: all the progress Kyousuke thought he’d made in his relationship with his sister seems to be gone, but he continues to obsess over having an active and important role in her life, even as other women he’d be better off paying more attention to hover nearby. We’re not sure quite what kind of clarification he needs from Ruri; the girl kissed him, for Chrissake. What more does he need: an essay with footnotes and a letter of recommendation? She even told him she likes him, as much as Kirino does. But rather than pursue that which could be his – either Ruri or Manami – he remains committed to that which he can’t have.

Yes, she eventually comes around a little in this episode back, but Kyousuke had to do an awful lot of manual labor to earn the smallest token of gratitude. She’s apparently allergic to please and thank you. But Kyousuke is convinced Kirino does care for her, and thinks she’ll be devastated if he chooses another girl. Or hell, maybe he just likes getting trod upon by her, while stringing other girls around. This would be nothing new, and it will be a problem if this new season is simply history repeating itself. The status quo must be challenged.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • The episode starts off with a flashback in which Kirino wants to bathe with his brother, Kyousuke tells her off, and she shows a more assertive side to herself, telling him of right back.
  • Kuroneko’s close-up…there are no words.
  • Sena is an interrupting bitch. And sorry, but no school in the world would allow its students make hardcore homoge for club.
  • Kyousuke and Kirino’s dad gets to belt out a few lines. When’s he going to roll out some Evas for his children to pilot?