Fall 2010 Anime Impressions – Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai

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 18/12 B+
Anticipation Level: 2.5/5 Average

The Story

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).

 

Yeah, I thought the same thing.

 

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:

  1. The younger sister likes to play imouto games and watch imouto anime.
  2. The younger sister doesn’t harbor any deeper feelings for her older brother.
  3. The younger sister pays for her hobby by using money she gets from modeling in fashion magazines.
  4. The younger sister gets really good grades and is a star athlete in track (while still finding time to model and do homework).
  5. The brother is not aware that his younger sister models.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

 

The older brother apparently only has one friend and she seems interesting.

 

 

 

Gratuitous English in anime is always a big plus in my books.

 

 

 

I loved how completely walled off her hobby is from the appearance her bedroom gives.

 

 

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5 thoughts on “Fall 2010 Anime Impressions – Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai”

  1. A lot of Americans don’t really understand what cultural shock is. They think it has to do with the fake multiculturalism that is taught in grade school and high school: “Tolerance” and “diversity”.

    In actual fact, tolerance and diversity do not exist in a bubble. They are rather the highways and gateways that connect each individual galaxy to another galaxy. There’s only a specific set of social and legal constraints that allow such things to function: a meta construct. In functional reality, most people live in bubbles that are self-contained and functional in the context that it is consistent and not particularly diverse or tolerant of X, Y, or Z. This is known popularly as polite expression, language, accents, and what one believes makes a person socially superior. Connecting those bubbles together isn’t what makes tolerance. And diversity isn’t combining the bubbles and seeing what new picture comes out.

    Rather, people become tolerant when they get to live in alien bubbles and actually comprehend why things are the way there but not the way in their home culture. Nor is diversity experienced by taking slices from other people’s culture and viewing it using one’s home cultural biases and prejudices.

    Humans are not naturally multicultural. Because if they were, there would never have been a need to fear strangers that were not part of the “tribe”. When it comes to fashion entertainment or survival, human beings always put the onus on the latter when given a choice.

    The philosophy partially motivating public schooling in the US is that if multiculturalism and different sexual theories are taught to children, that this will make them “understand” what they had never understood before. That with multiculturalism and diversity people will now truly understand each other.

    You can see how well that works by looking at the rising level of bullying and social dysfunction in the school environment. If multiculturalism had been properly conveyed and expressed, why are the social cliques of high schools so fractured and frought with tension and violence. Why do you not see more harmony in the form of alliances between different peer groups, since they now ‘understand” each other, in combating the problems of both groups?

    That’s because it was a con. If any one, children or adults, were actually taught true multiculturalism, they wouldn’t be in a situation where they are so insecure they refuse to reach out to others. But it is these same people who seek to claim to truly understand “African” culture or “Latin” culture or “European” culture or “Asian” culture. They don’t understand a thing. Just look at their performance records.

    These people neither understand how to solve their own issues nor have they demonstrated an ability to teach children to solve similar problems of having a diverse group of people who think differently from each other because they came from different cultural origins. They’re connected in the end. One failure leads to another.

    This brings us back to the topic at hand. People in the US will misunderstand what the premise of this anime is about because they lack the Japanese cultural background information to understand it. But if that same person had demonstrated the ability to understand multiple cultures and had basic skills of analysis, they can begin to understand what is beyond their current level. Without those skills, though, there is no improvement. Just bias and ignorance.

    There is no diversity for the clueless and ignorant, forever stuck in their own bubble thinking it be the end all and be all of the universe.

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  2. The show just felt like plain vanilla. Not that it’s a bad thing since that’s generally my flavor of choice, but I was just struck by how ordinary it all felt. The sister lives her own life, the brother lives his own, occasionally they interact, and that’s about it. Pretty much mirrors how life goes with my sibs (and yes, I do have a little sister into anime but not eroge) and so, I can connect with the storyline pretty well. Somehow, there will be some tension in the romance department, but if my guess is correct, it probably won’t escalate beyond anything other than that.

    And oh god let this be better than Nogizaka Haruka. That show was horrible.

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  3. After finishing episode 3, I’m getting the impression that recently there’s been a lot of otaku type satire being outputted. Perhaps it a cultural trend to make otaku tastes more palatable to the mainstream. After all, after Dana White bought UFC and implemented weight classes and placed it under the sports comission, such fights were no longer banned as illegal in the states. So there are definitely examples of such societal strata shifts.

    Regardless, it is very funny since I can often get all the references unlike a comedy show playing kanji puns or upon Japanese history.

    A tsundere imouto is pretty funny in its own way. Breaks the status quo mold a bit.

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  4. it’s a great anime, one of the best in 2010 next to Bakemonogatari and Katanagatari. i think it’s funny and original with alot of awkward moments. it’s nice to see something different then your average typical predictable battle animes. i can’t wait for the 4 OVA’s next year.

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  5. As mentioned before by me elsewhere here, they made some more episodes, DVD extras, that were 13.5 (true ending) and episodes 14 and 15.

    I think in general, the show only lacked in terms of weakened development of the main character, because the imouto was very well developed at the end. But a lot of plot events just didn’t make much sense to people, because the main character’s motivations got less and less clear as time went on. Just reading a few pieces from the light novel, made that guy’s motivations a lot more logical. It explains why he was willing to take so much pain in the arse tasks for his arrogant sister.

    The main theme of the introduction and the series is that the brother has been ignoring his little sister for years now. Half of this reason is jealousy, envy, and a feeling of inferiority. The other half is the guy’s own inner weaknesses and desire to avoid risk or danger. The little sister, which is abnormal for a Japanese family, is more independent than the older brother (leaders in the family). She has learned to deal with her life on her own, yet she goes out of her way to ask her brother for help, because this time, she can’t solve it herself. This process results in the rebonding of the brother-sister relationship.

    Both parties benefit in different ways. The brother benefits by finally coming out of his shell and taking risks. The sister benefits from having someone else to rely upon. It’s an interesting twist on the normal Japanese ideal of the brother-little sister relationship: the proper relationship is one between protector and protectee, leader and loyal follower.

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