My Oreimo Can’t Be This Thoughtful

I like Oreimo. I’ll make no defense about the writing, which had its fair share of overblown drama and contrived situations. After all, this is originally a light novel (as wah would point out in a derisive tone), but this not-quite little sister fetishism cartoon had a surprising amount of food for thought.

I’m glad to have started the show a year after the hype had died down. How do I put it, reading irate blog posts about Kirino and the fanservice colored my opinion of Oreimo, without even watching a single episode! I was put off by the thought that it was one of those shows. You know, those shows. The only sleazy thing I remember from the show was an accidental boob grab, which was never mentioned again.

But instead of Kirino fanservice, there’s tons of good stuff to chew on. The production values are pretty damn good, for the OP to have multiple variations, and a different ED for every episode. Even the anime within the anime look amazing on their own. As for themes, Oreimo is about: how a teenage guy wants to be a reliable brother to his younger sister, how enjoying a hobby secretively makes one miserable, and how people who hardly know each other become the best of friends due to said hobbies. All of these things I can strongly relate to, which accounts for 90% of the enjoyment I derived from the show. It’s not because it’s good (even though it is), but because it’s a show that hits close to home.

(Disclaimer: I don’t have actually have a little sister. But I have a little brother, and we get along reasonably well.)

I suppose there was shipping, but my late viewing of the show allowed me to dodge the crazy shippers. I didn’t ship anyone, because I didn’t think any pairing would work. That said, Kyousuke and Ayase would make for a most interesting couple if they hit it off.

There is no “correct” for a work of literature. However it’s written, it can’t be “wrong”. That’s what I think. Everyone has a different reason for writing, so that’s just naturally how it is. There can be no absolute correct way to write. My complaints just now simply mean that it was not something I could enjoy.

–Ruri Gokou, aka “Kuroneko”

The novel-anime arc was silly, contrived, and exactly something you’d expect from a light novel. But I didn’t expect Oreimo to point out a few truths about the nature of creative works, which put a huge grin on my face. Kirino and Kuroneko’s works aren’t anything good, but the difference in their philosophies was what mattered. It also bears of note that Kirino does get beat down in this arc, which is extremely satisfying and not just because of schadenfreude.

And FWIW, I liked both endings. I actually prefer the first one (episode 12 of the TV series), because it entirely gets rid of the whole ridiculous Kirino-in-America thing. But then again, we’d never have seen Sena Akagi and her incredible ability to construct lewd pairings out of anything… which is a skill that I also have.

Raging because I honestly like Kirino more than Kuroneko? Angry because I like this show more than the other people (and their so-called standards) prescribe? Ready to pounce on me in the comments section for being more than a year too late? I’d rather not, if it can be helped, but please tell me what you think! I also have two more posts lined up, so please look forward to them!

The Oreimo Post Series:

  1. My Oreimo Can’t Be This Thoughtful
  2. Kirino, the Misery of Lonely Fans, and the Importance of Making Friends
  3. Saori, Owner of a Lonely Heart (Still the Best Kind of Fan)
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27 Responses to My Oreimo Can’t Be This Thoughtful

  1. Mike says:

    I wanted so hard to like Oreimo. Admittedly, I was part of the hype machine when it was airing (I wrote far more articles about it than I intended to—even after I declared on Twitter I was dropping it!) and named it the most memorable show of the year. It really seemed to promise at times a real deconstruction of the imouto fetish that has overtaken anime recently, and at times features some excellent character writing. It also captured the mentality of fandom/otakuness in a pretty accurate way.

    But it was plot that kept dragging it down so often for me. It’s as if the screenwriter, who’d done such wonderful works like Now and Then, Here and There, was shackled by the source material. There was almost a sense that he was struggling against it.

    Looking forward to the rest of your article series!

    • schneider says:

      I didn’t get the impression that the source material was tethering the show down. If anything, my friend pointed out that the scriptwriter guy in that let’s-make-an-anime episode resembled Yamakan, which made it more hilarious… and sad.

      • Mike says:

        It’s weird. I actually interpreted that scene as the writer’s not-so-silent protest against the sort of show that’s not only predominant in anime now but also the worse aspects of the very series he was working on! That it resembles Yamakan does in fact make it hilariously ironic, given how Fractale turned out.

        Good writing that rises above cliche is, at the end of the day, hard.

  2. Ryan A says:

    I think many viewers took this show the wrong way when it was airing. They shot it down as a fanservice anime (people need to experience more of these to know) and didn’t have a chance to see any of OreImo’s merits, which you touch on here. There was pandering and servicey frames, but they setup a kind of awkward tone I think we’re meant to feel going at the story from Kyousuke’s point of view.

    I found the story shallow and acceptable, not for fanservice or any of that jazz, but because it approaches a fascinating and complex situation rather lightly. To quote myself:

    The trouble is that Kirino’s disposition was easily sliced into presentable aspects, streamlining the inherent complexities one would normally understand given a greater sense of realistic texture.

    To be quite honest, the middle school otaku girl with a complex for erotic visual novels featuring little sisters has a greater richness as a concept than what we received in OreImo. People are not that simple.

    There could have been more sincerity, but OreImo is enjoyable.

    • schneider says:

      >>I think many viewers took this show the wrong way when it was airing. They shot it down as a fanservice anime (people need to experience more of these to know)…

      Exactly, and my impressions on the show were affected by such idiots. I forget about the state of the blogosphere back then, but didn’t that Moe Coalition thing sprout out around the same time?

      I don’t find Kirino realistic. Her Shameful Otaku Secret could have been anything IMO, but imouto games added a whole new layer of awkward. However, I found her believable enough, for this sort of work. She could have been a richer character, but that would probably entail sacrificing a lot of her tsun towards her brother. And we all know how tsundere fans gobble up that kind of stuff!

      And yes, it was a lot enjoyable.

      • Ryan A says:

        Moe Coalition, I do not recall. And she was believable and enjoyable to watch. Despite the H-games, she had an innocent passion about her fandom. She wasn’t cynical, which was kind of great.

        • Mike says:

          I didn’t find Kirino all that realistic either, except in the beginning in the way she interacted with her brother in that quietly hostile and bratty way. That was why us hypemasters were so hopeful about the show at first—it was promising to be a lot less idealized than, say, Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu and grittier, perhaps. The tsunderization of Kirino, for lack of a better term, was part of what I saw as the show’s inability to rise much further above the cliches it was purportedly examining/critiquing/satirizing.

          Maybe my mistake was to frame it as such—a deconstruction or critique, and judging it in those terms. Perhaps I was expecting something more like Welcome to the NHK when it was more like Haruhi Suzumiya—a character-driven meta-humor show that revels in tropes as much as it points them out.

        • schneider says:

          I found it quite funny that she doesn’t reflect into her own hobby deeply, and it’s all Kyousuke that’s making her feel awkward about it. It’s like inviting you, the viewer, to do it for her, which sets up the huge tease/elephant in the room… Her interest is pure, at least. She’s too young to be oldfagging about things!

          If I think too much about it, my head hurts. I’ve learned on my own that we shouldn’t judge people for the type of porn they like!

  3. Digibro says:

    Nah bro im pretty much with you all here. When i first watched the show while it was airing, a couple of said contrivances did bother me and i was never a huge fan, but like happens most of the time, i liked everything the second time around, watching with my little brother. Then we watched ending 2 which was stellar because Kuroneko is boss. Like the one you cited, her speeches were my favorite thing about the show, besides so many great concept episodes.

    Btw your tone towards light novels here was somewhat abrasive. Not a fan of the medium or something? Light novel adaptations actually make up the largest percent of my favorite shows.

    • Ryan A says:

      Kuroneko @ Home spinoff, would watch.

    • schneider says:

      I like light novels and light novel anime! I have all the Haruhi books so far, and am always on the lookout for more (sadly, it’s hard to find it here).

      All I’m saying is that a good number of LNs tend to be written in this style that favors bombast over restraint, and while Oreimo doesn’t show huge symptoms of it, it’s still hampered by its medium’s shortcomings. The whole spat with Ayase was kinda… eh.

      But yeah, Kuroneko’s speeches are good. But she’s a bit too abrasive for me, which the show had no real explanation about. At least Kirino had to practice her hobby in secret, which made her rotten personality even worse.

  4. TWWK says:

    OreImo, at its best, was an excellent show. The blogosophere was full of suprisingly happy bloggers after the first pair of episodes in particular, and even the poorer episodes (the novel ones were pretty terrible) had their share of moments. People really disliked Kirino, but she certainly was a memorable character – and and several of the others were terrific characters.

    I have other problems with the show, but overall, it was very enjoyable, especially the first half. Oh, and I love the OP and EDs.

  5. Pingback: OreImo and Sincerity – aloe, dream

  6. >Oreimo is about: how a teenage guy wants to be a reliable brother to his younger sister
    >All of these things I can strongly relate to

    Does this mean you ha-

    >(Disclaimer: I don’t have actually have a little sister.

    Nevermind.

    >But I have a little brother

    Pics of little brother, please.

  7. Efelion says:

    I loved Oreimo, to me it hits reasonably close to home. However, I also think it is important to note that it is highly unrealistic.
    If anyone has ever thought that little sisters can be cute, they are absolutely wrong. I know because I have one. It could tell an only child that they are deluding themselves when they claim that having a sister must be great, but I would never be believed. Ultimately, reality is reality and 2D is 2D.
    At the end of the day, I always remember Oreimo ep1, I can ardently say that I chose and will always choose to kick Shiori out of the bed.

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