Wednesday, January 19, 2011


                If you’re like me you might have problems with trying to keep up with all of the latest anime that’s coming out. This year in particular, has been a difficult one simply because there hasn’t actually been too much to really grab my attention. And then most of the cool anime that I do want to see don’t get a legal streaming service here in the states. But since October I have been eagerly watching every episode of the new otaku comedy Oreimo. Thanks to ANN I have been able to keep up with this fun and eventful show, all without having to pay a cent.
                The story of Oreimo at first sounds pretty generic and disappointing. It’s about a high school boy named Kyosuke Kosaka who lives in the shadow of his over achieving little sister named Kirino; who has seemed to avoid him for the past couple of years. Unlike him, she is athletic, intelligent, attractive, and popular. By contrast he is a completely average guy with nothing special really going for him. And although she seems happy and cheerful in front of everyone else, she constantly treats him like an unwanted puppy. So needless to say there is tension between the two. But this changes when one day he finds anime dvd case in the middle of the hallway, and when he opens it up he finds that it actually contains an adult ero game. After some quick detective work it is revealed that both the dvd and the game belong to Kirino. When he confronts her about the dvd she confesses that she is shamefully a closet otaku and that she needs his help keeping her hobby a secret. This starts off a series of events which revolve around Kyosuke helping his little sister discover her true self, and teaches her not to be ashamed of her hobby. It might also help to mention that Kirino has a particular obsession with magical girl anime and little sister ero games which both combined to make the situation very awkward for Kyosuke.
                Now I wouldn’t blame you if you read the full title of this anime and then pass it off, the full title is Ore no Imōto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai (My Little Sister Can't Be This Cute). Believe me, I know the title brings to mind images of a generic moe/incest/harem which would offer little to no entertainment value beyond fantasy material for otaku, but this show is actually nothing like that. Sure there is some moe aspect to it, but the majority of the anime focuses of otaku related comedy and delightful characters. And best of all; there’s actually no incest involved.
                I’d say that the strongest point of the anime is the comedy aspect which is build to entertain otaku. It’s best to describe it as a more recent Genshiken. Much like Genshiken, it’s filled with jokes that really only fellow Otaku would be able to fallow. Also, like Genshiken, it involves many different types of Otaku and showing how they interact in a modern fandom. But unlike Genshiken, it has a look which blends in perfectly with all of the other anime which have been made in the later half of the decade. Many of the jokes and plot points revolve around new and old issues of the otaku fandom in Japan and the different types of Otaku which exist. Also keep in mind that the story is shown through the eyes of a non-otaku (Kyosuke) so it will often show the culture shock that many average Japanese citizens face when interacting with otaku.
                Honestly the main characters of the series are nothing special. Kyosuke is your typical teenager with nothing special about him and who is absolutely normal in every way. And Kirino is your classic case tsundere which makes me question just how much of her character is just completely based off Haruhi. But what actually makes the series good is the colorful cast of secondary characters. It’s largely Kirino’s friends that make the show so enjoyable. They breathe much needed life into this otherwise iffy series. Unlike the 2 main characters, the side characters are quite unique and acted as fun and relatable parodies of people from the real world, while at the same time developing into full characters of their own. My 2 favorite characters of the series would have to be Kirino’s otaku friends Kuroneko and Saori. Kuroneko acts mainly as a stereotypical parody of a specific type of otaku. This kind of otaku is mainly obsessed with drama anime aimed at older teens (like Code Geass, Darker Than Black, ext.). She is also a loli cosplayer, and not just you occasional type, she cosplays everyday. Early in the series she is defined, by Kirino, as “post-evangelion bitter”, which I feel reflects a lot of anime fans today (including me). Saori is the leader of a girl otaku organization and is seen by her friends as being an old school otaku that dresses and acts as stereotypical as you can find. She’s an entertaining version of the otaku from the 90s and further back who still obsess over Gundam and were flannel shirts year round. In many ways she’s like a character pulled from Genshiken and thrown into this new series. There are some other fun characters that come up throughout the series, but non quite as entertaining or as relevant as these two. In the end, the only character I truly hated was Manami, who was Kyosuke childhood friend. She is the most generic, moe, fanservice character I have ever seen. Every part with her in it made me want to stop watching the anime. But luckily I toughed it out and made it to the end, and I’m quite happy I didn’t let her ruin the series for me.
                The staff was made up, of people who were well trained in the ways of anime. The director Hiroyuki Kanbe, is notable as an animator involved in Flame of Recca, Yu Yu Hakusho, Rurouni Kenshin, Evangelion, Cowboy Bebeop (movie), ext. and finally as a director in Viper’s Creed. The animation directors, Kana Ishida and Tetsuya Kawakami, are quite well seasoned. They’ve worked on enough big hits to make your head spin. For all of these staff members, Oreimo seems like a step out of the ordinary for them. Nothing these guys have worked on have been quite this comedy driven. And in the end the series felt like it should have been a Kyoto Animation project rather than AIC. But the most out there staff member for this anime has to be Hideyuki Kurata. For those of you not familiar with him, he is a very well established anime writer. He is famous for writing shows like Now and Then Here and There, R.O.D (OVA and series), Cloth Road, Hellsing Unlimited, ext. he even dates back to doing old school sci-fi anime like Android Ana Maico 2010. But he now does a series like Oreimo, it’s kind of shocking to see him adapting to each generation of anime fandom so well over the course of his career.
                Oreimo is based on a light novel series written by Tsukasa Fushimi which, from what I’ve heard, has been very successful over in Japan. The light novel series started in 2008 and in 2010 has already released it’s 7th volume. It’s also adapted into a manga series in 2009 and has character design work by Hiro Kanzaki. Neither series has been licensed in North America as of yet, but if this anime series does well enough here we might see some volumes of the manga or novel make their U.S. debut soon.
                Over all it’s a fun and entertaining series, if you don’t mind a few annoyances. Anyone who is looking for a new otaku comedy should give it a shot. And what’s the harm in giving it a go? It’s free streaming thanks to the folks over at ANN. So don’t let the name fool you, just dive right in and try to enjoy what the show has to offer.