Also known as Ore no Imouto, Oreimo, and My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute.
Quietly AIC has been putting a string of hits together over the last year and a half that has pushed them from an all-right anime studio to one of the top-tier studios. It was this new found credibility and good-looking character designs that convinced me to try this show out since the premise actively turned me off. How’d it do? The answer could be shocking or maybe it’s not.
Rating for episode 1 – 8/12 B+
Anticipation Level: 2.5/5 Average
A normal high school boy, Kyousuke Kousaka, has what’s apparently a normal life until he discovers his middle school aged younger sister, Kirino Kousaka, has a secret. She likes playing little sister (imouto) themed adult visual novels and watch little sister themed anime and uses money she earns from modeling in fashion magazines to pay for her hobby. The older brother is only slightly weirded-out by this secret because she pays for her fix herself and she proclaims that she only likes it because the she wants to protect and care for these digital little sisters and doesn’t harbor any romantic feelings for him.
He promises to help her, thinking in keeping her secret from their parents but she decides to get him to play these games to get an unbiased opinion about them. Hilarity and comedy is promised to follow (but we’ll see).
The Fine Print
Color me surprised that I didn’t hate the first episode; it has potential but there’s so many ways for Ore no Imouto to still fail.
The most obvious is that the younger sister really does like her older brother in “that way” and all the events in the first episode was part of a devious plan of hers to get her brother to reciprocate her feelings. This was the route I thought the show was going to take but either the younger sister deserves an Oscar for her acting ability in episode 1 or she really is truthful about why she likes imouto games and anime. I’m guessing on the latter because her confession and emotions and words seemed too authentic to be anything less then real. Of course, this could be the direction the show goes in the future but, for right now, it doesn’t seem to be a concern.
Mentioning the younger sister’s desire to play these types of games works into the second major way this show could fail – that Ore no Imouto will requires the viewer to accept a prohibitively large number of improbabilities and impossibilities for the show to “work”. There’s always some level of accommodation the viewers have to give to a fictional work for that fictional work to succeed. For example, if a viewer decides that a high school girl by the name of Haruhi can’t be a powerful god (or the possibility of some other explanation for the appearance of aliens, ESPers, and time travelers) then it’ll be impossible for that person to like The Melancholy of Haruhi. If, however, the viewer decides for the purposes of enjoying The Melancholy of Haruhi that he/she will allow the possibility of Haruhi and her powers then that viewer will find it possible to like the show.
Different people have different levels of accommodation that they’re willing to give a fictional work and that includes when in the work the viewer is asked to accept something. Not many people are receptive to the Deus Ex Machina ending but these same people are willing to give the show some slack at the beginning. My memories of the first Avatar animated series are starting to fade but I remember really getting bugged by the magical turtle that shows up at the very end that imparts a “secret” teaching that allows the heroes to win but I was okay at the beginning of the series about the idea of people “bending” different “elements” and harnessing the power of water, fire, wind, and earth.
In the case of Ore no Imouto, the first episode asks the viewer to accept that:
- The younger sister likes to play imouto games and watch imouto anime.
- The younger sister doesn’t harbor any deeper feelings for her older brother.
- The younger sister pays for her hobby by using money she gets from modeling in fashion magazines.
- The younger sister gets really good grades and is a star athlete in track (while still finding time to model and do homework).
- The brother is not aware that his younger sister models.
- The parents either don’t know about the modeling as well or allows their daughter to blow all the money she earns (instead of saving it for college, her first house, etc.) on stuff even though it’s not readily apparent on what this stuff is.
- The younger sister found it very difficult to understand why the older brother was uncomfortable about playing these games with his younger sister.
This is quite a lot of items the makers behind this anime are asking potential viewers to accept. I can understand if other people found it too much and dropped it after this episode; I was very close myself but I am willing to watch a few more episodes to see where it goes from here.
A side-effect of all these seemingly impossibilities connected to the younger sister is that right now she doesn’t feel like a real person; it’s like the role the creators needed to fill contrived to create the younger sister instead of having the younger sister create the show around her odd hobby. To their credit, the creators did get the younger sister’s mannerisms toward her older brother pretty close to perfect judging from my personal experience of having 4 younger sisters but they will need to develop the character of the younger sister if the show is going to be successful in the long run.
If Ore no Imouto can avoid these pitfalls I do see the possibility that it’ll become a fun show to watch. I love anime built around exploiting the inherit comedy found exclusively between family members. It helped push Minami-ke into my top comedy spot and helped me enjoy Mitsudomoe as much as I did and Ore no Imouto looks like it’ll include this familial comedy as well. Also, AIC has shown in the past that they’re willing to radically alter the source material to improve the quality of the show and also they’ve shown a willingness to develop the show’s characters into something deeper then cardboard clichés. Therefore, I expect Ore no Imouto to become a character-driven light comedy show and I definitely think this the direction the show needs to go.
Throw in fairly high production values, attractive character designs, and great voice work (the younger sister is done by Azunyan from K-On! and the brother is done by Tomoya from Clannad) and I liked the first episode well enough to give it a 8/12 B+ and to suggest to those that haven’t watched it yet to give Ore no Imouto a chance.