Kirino, the Misery of Lonely Fans, and the Importance of Making Friends

I mentioned in a previous post that I liked Kirino, and did not hate her as others would. I’ve been studying and musing on fan theory, or why people like certain things. Why? I wish to recommend things better to my friends, and understand why fans like (or hate) different works of fiction. It’s all so that I could spread my love of anime more efficiently!

We do know that Kirino has been practicing her hobbies in secret from the start of the show. I daresay this secrecy has warped her already petulant personality further. From being the perfect girl with an arrogant streak, she’s become a real mean troll.

While she has such unbridled passion for little sister games and moe anime, she can’t even reveal that part to her closest friends. Having to conceal what you truly love to whom you truly love puts an unbearable burden on oneself. “Why can’t I be myself?” Kirino might ask herself. “Why can’t I let others know?” One could cope, but it would never be enough.

And that’s why Kyousuke was a godsend. In confronting him, Kirino was able to gain someone who at the very least, tolerates what she likes. An ally, if you will.

At this point, I’d like to point out how Kirino exhibits typical oppressed fan behavior, getting Kyousuke to play little sister games with her to understand what she likes. This is a gold mine for uncomfortable situations, and stimulates the tease that the title of the show sets up.

“You don’t have to care about what people think.” I think we can be a lot happier in our lives if we gave less fucks about what these “other people” think. Throughout the show, Kirino was able to gain a few friends who understood her and treated her as a human being. I really think this is a vital part of any hobby, as there’s no one better to keep you in touch with reality than friends, who are interested in you as a person, and not just another guy with the same hobbies.

Oh, Ayase. Your arc had some unnecessary drama, but it also poses a valid question to people: what happens when your best friend strongly disapproves of how you spend your free time? Kirino was able to retain both her friend and hobby, but it’s unreasonable to believe that others would be as fortunate. I myself think there’s no clear-cut solution to this problem–it depends on which one we’d rather spend time with, and our values. But I suppose getting the friend to listen first is the least one could do. After all, a compromise is always possible.

What I like about Oreimo is that Kirino was able to improve in the presence of her friends. It’s all too easy to feel that the world is against you, that everyone else thinks lowly of what you value, be they anime, eroge, toys or whatnot. It’s an environment that turns people into trolls. Arguing with a face keeps one from dehumanizing the other, which happens often when interacting through forums or social networks. You probably know how it is.

Indeed, without friends who respect and don’t deride your hobbies, it’s easy to put up defenses that keep you from enjoying the company of other people. Some moe otaku develop persecution complexes, or take perverse pleasure in labeling themselves as pedos. I find little value in these exploits, as they involve putting on airs for something that’s just meant to be enjoyed.

So, how does one find these friends?

Simple: off-kai!

That’s just a fancy Japanese word for meeting offline, or IRL. Kirino would never have gotten out of her shell, had she not meet her clubmates in person. Seeing the identity behind the screen name might be a jarring experience, but the significance of it cannot be denied. There’s a whole new level of camaraderie once you’ve met each other in person. In my experience, the online friends I have met IRL turned out to be more interesting than what I gleaned from their Internet footprint. You get to learn who they really are, and you more readily discover common interests.

Speaking for myself, having off-kai’d with people has allowed me to be a better person, online or offline. It keeps me down-to-earth, reminding me that there’s always a face behind every online handle. Sure, it’s often more about what they say online, but am I going to flame and harass them freely, knowing that there’s another person, tempered by life experiences that may be different from mine (which would account for their taste in things)? It’s better to not be an ass. Once you’ve started to relate with online denizens on a more personal level, you can’t go back. Trying to be mean-spirited online feels like you’re punching someone in the face, which isn’t exactly the best feeling.

As a lead-in to my next Oreimo post, one person that should be thanked for pulling Kirino out of that bunghole is Saori Bajeena, my favorite character of the show. While Saori had the advantage of age and seniority over Kirino (she’s leader of the online club Kirino joined, after all), it’s her openness and sincerity that’s made a positive impact on her, directly or indirectly.

Please look forward to it!

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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17 Responses to Kirino, the Misery of Lonely Fans, and the Importance of Making Friends

  1. Anya says:

    I wish I could meet more people IRL, being stuck in the middle of nowhere *-* I

    I do the opposite of Kirino though, and don’t bother hiding anything from anyone. But what happens is I don’t have anyone to hang out with.

    • schneider says:

      There are cons over there, right? I’ve always been curious about how that sort of thing goes!

      It’s easier for me, since the metro area is fairly easy to get to.

      • Anya says:

        I think there’s a very small one that’s several hours away, and I don’t have a car (I think it’ll be too far even with a car unless there’s a bunch of drivers). And I would need someone to go with ;_;

        ONE DAY I WILL GET OUT OF KALAMAZOO

  2. Son Gohan says:

    Well, I can tell you why I personally dislike Kirino. Sorry if I am going to be a bit harsh.

    First of all, she is a Mary Sue who is exceptional at everything she does:
    1. Good grades at school
    2. Good in sports, so much that an American trainer scouted her
    3. Nice looks that get her a job as a teen model
    4. She is even a competent writer who got one of her novels transposed in animation.
    And she balances all of these things with her hobby as an otaku.

    She is an irrealistically flawless character that doesn’t deserve an ounce of pity to begin with.
    But that’s just the beginning. She is also a spoiled brat. She mistreats her older brother for no reason at all. She orders him around and doesn’t even thank him most of the time. Her brother goes as far as to prostrate himself in front of the anime crew for her sake. And she barely acknowledges his efforts. I just can’t stand this.
    There is a place in Hell for people like Kirino. It’s called Judecca, the section of Cocytus where the traitors to benefactors are punished.

    • moritheil says:

      Uh, while I can see why those things make her an unsympathetic character, and arguably not the best product of writing, I’m not really sure why getting good grades, being talented, etc. makes a person morally evil. You come across as a little vehement here, whether it’s due to jealousy or some other reason I don’t know.

      Siblings abuse each other for help and favors all the time, though obviously not quite the way it is done in anime. If your argument is that you can’t stand her flaw, fine. But then how can you be mad at her for being flawless? She isn’t; you’ve just named her flaws. I think it’s actually a psychologically realistic result of someone being awesome and having done nothing in particular to “deserve” that awesomeness: a certain amount of insecurity results in pushing boundaries with other people to the point of making unreasonable requests. Now, that’s not necessarily likable, but it is understandable.

      • Son Gohan says:

        The first part of my post (being a Mary Sue) is why I dislike Kirino. The second part (the abuse on Kyousuke) is why she is an outright evil character.
        Do you remember all the things Kyousuke did for her?
        – He took the blame from his father for her H-games
        – He took the blame from Ayase for the same reason
        – He watched over her during her first offline meeting
        – He accompanied her to the Comiket
        – He took her on a date for Christmas and was forced to buy her an expensive ring
        – He pleaded the anime staff to grant his sister’s selfish requests
        – He stood in line to buy the latest H-game that came out at midnight

        And for all of his efforts, what did he receive? A muttered “Arigato, Aniki” once and for the rest only spiteful words and kicks to the groin. If this is not being “morally evil”, then I don’t know what it is.

        • mockman says:

          In the spirit of the aniblog tourney, I thought I’d visit a few of the competing blogs, and even post a comment or two.

          While Kirino seems pretty flawed, and sometimes little more than walking ego, she isn’t as monstrous as all that. For me, it’s really only the zealous violence that wears me down.

          Regarding your list of Kyou’s unappreciated actions… remember that she wasn’t aware of his heroic actions with their father (his mother pushed him), nor that he demeaned himself at the anime studio, and probably a couple of other things too. It’s really only with Ayase in the playground that she got to see how far he’d go for her. And it was actually an inexpensive pair of earrings that he bought her.

          While one of the premises of the show makes little sense to me… that the two siblings don’t seem to even acknowledge each other’s existence for about 15 years, I think in the end, he’s getting just as much out of their interactions as she is. He gets to spend lots of time with some cute girls who come to adore him (and one who loathes him). After a lifetime of a sister never acknowledged him (remember that her best friends didn’t even know his name), he’s finally getting to play the role of aniki, which he seems to enjoy greatly. She even dressed up as a maid for him. As Kirino often suggests, he should be grateful. And he did cry like a little girl over it (whereas none of the negativity deterred him). Also, as Kana-chan pointed out early on, she can sound angry but be happy.

          He’s doing this as much for himself as for her.

    • schneider says:

      Kirino is good at a lot of what she does (although her light novel’s success isn’t really because of talent), but she fails at relating with other people. Her emotional intelligence is really low, and that prevents her from being perfect. I don’t find her unrealistic at all.

      Sure, her faults are terrible (I wouldn’t even want to be in the same room as her!), but I understand where she’s coming from. I like her as a character!

      The older brother maltreatment is laid on thick in the context of the show, as it’s a limitation of being a melodramatic work.

  3. moritheil says:

    So, your conclusion can be summarized as “Be a hole for their lust”?😛

    I guess the issue behind the desirability or lack thereof of offline meetings is whether we are concerned with the reality of otaku as something people must live with – their isolation, uncommon interests, etc. – or some kind of ideological purity of otaku lifestyle as a construct.

    • schneider says:

      FFFFFFFF-

      Well, it’s true that other otaku aren’t interested in other people. I personally think that’s something that should be corrected, as people can’t live alone, without trying to relate to others!

      • moritheil says:

        Your wording is unfortunate.

        I think there is a certain danger when society sees people who don’t conform as misfits who need to be corrected. And while you probably don’t mean correction in the sense of incarceration and rehabilitation, history shows that is where that perception of people often leads. The past century has shown us a lot of people whose views were politically inconvenient were subject to all sorts of abuses in order to get them to conform.

        Don’t get me wrong – if people individually decide they want more human contact and make changes to get it, good for them. But I’m leery of labeling something like this – which is a lifestyle choice – as “should be corrected.”

  4. schneider says:

    @ mockman

    Comment threading limit reached, so I dunno if you’re going to see this… but thanks for commenting! You display a keen sense of insight.🙂

    Most of the “meeting cute girls” part is Kyousuke getting dragged into many strange situations, though. I think he’s too bewildered of the attention and responsibility to provide him a sense of relishing the present. But he carries himself rather well.

  5. mockman says:

    Thanks. My pleasure.

    For a while, I felt pretty much the same way. Offhand, I’m not sure when that changed. Maybe it was after his battle with his father and Kirino’s resulting gratitude. But after a while, he started inserting himself into situations. For example, he cancelled his study session with Manami and went after Ayase, he helped set up Ayase’s gift for Kirino. And he’s thinking about this, not just reacting. When he rescued the little sisters from his father, or when he persuaded Ayase to re-kindle her friendship with Kirino, he did his homework, having contingency plans in place to deal with the worst case scenarios. His mom had it right when she wondered, “Who’da thunk it,” just as he was about to go face his father.

    I think that the Kyou at the start of the show would never have gone to rescue Kirino. But by the time he did go to the U.S., it seemed perfectly in character for him. Maybe he spent his first sixteen (or however many) years doing nothing, being nobody, living the peaceful boyhood that every male protagonist desires.

    As an aside, I just looked at another site to see how I’d rated each episode. For the TV run, I only rated a single episode — ep.02 — which I gave a score of 1/5 to. If you’d asked me then, I might have provided an opinion similar to the one I initially responded to.

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