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!

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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 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

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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

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I think I’m liking this series so far because of its underlying premise: it’s about an older brother and younger sister learning to get along, and the latter depending on the former for support. In this case, the sister is an otaku, and her brother suggests she branch out and find others like her. Her school friends are all normal girls, which is to say, not into eroge.

This quest leads inexorably to Akiba, which is nicely depicted, particularly a no-nonsense, realistic maid cafe experience, which catches Kyousuke off-guard. Kirino doesn’t fit in with the group of otaku girls who show up, but during the after-party, begins spontaneously sparring verbally with an emo girl who also didn’t fit in. Armed with new otaku friends, Kirino must concede that her big bro helped her out.

Kyousuke really is a good sport when it comes to accommodating Kirino, and even plays the weird games and graphic novels she gives him to help him understand her better. The only thing I’m wondering is, now that Kirino’s “life consultation” is over (at least according to Kyousuke), where is this series going to go next? Rating: 3

Oreimo – First Impressions

I like being wrong sometimes. To put it another way, I like to be surprised, and for my low expectations to be thoroughly rebuked. Such is the case with Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai, (whew), translated as “My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute”…which is kind of a stupid title. But it isn’t a stupid show.

From the get-go, the relationship between Kyousuke and his little sister Kirino is earnestly portrayed, both literally and figuratively. Case in point: I don’t remember the characters ever devolving into SD or chibi form. I don’t think it happened. Which is nice, because this is a gorgeously-drawn anime, and that would simply take away from it. Kyousuke has a lot of inner dialogue, but that’s fine.

I found myself immediately relating to Kyousuke, having a little sister myself…even though my sister never revealed she had half of Akibahara squirreled away in a secret closet. The bottom line is, their relationship sucked before – they barely spoke – and giving Kirino ‘life consultation’ re her chronic otakuism is as good a way as any to reconnect with her. For a first episode that mostly took place in Kirino’s room in the middle of the night night, Oreimo delivered a great introduction, and I’m left liking both characters and interested in where this is headed. Rating 3.5