Questionable title and premise aside, if I were to explain what Oreimo is about, it would be this: it’s about this guy in a broken family, broken in the sense that its members do not quite understand each other, due to a failure of communication. So he sets to fix it, by trying to understand his little sister, and protect her as a dutiful big brother could.
At some point, his sister makes friends, and these friends become his friends, too. And by extension, their problems become his problems.
That’s a long way from just that title, right?
Oreimo made me very interested in how fans think, and why they act like they do. I think I laughed the hardest when Kyousuke tried to break up Kirino and Kuroneko’s argument by saying “it’s just an anime!” Their reaction was spot-on, and I loved how it poked fun at stupid fan behavior without really condemning it. The anime is really good in that regard.
After that episode, I felt ashamed of myself, having acted the same way numerous times before. “Well, if I examine why I acted that way before, maybe I could avoid future incidents,” I thought.
It’s fascinating, Kirino and Kuroneko’s relationship. They are friends, but you wouldn’t be able to tell with all those jabs and heated arguments. It’s complicated, because they like something (anime), but their interests are so different that you can’t really say that they like the same thing. Rather, they like different facets of a thing, just like I would watch Code Geass for the mecha, and a fujoshi would watch it for the boys.
(A year ago, I would’ve said that I wouldn’t be able to get along with that fujoshi, but that doesn’t hold true anymore.)
Kirino portrays what’s wrong with the obsessive fan. She lets herself be defined by the things they likes, by the clothes she wears and the anime she watches. She says this quite literally in one episode, where she tries to make up with her best friend. That way, when criticism is leveled on something she’s latched on, she takes it personally. Your favorite anime is shit, and all that.
Her friends are notable in their attitudes as fans. Despite her sharp tongue, Kuroneko is a moderate, and knows why she likes what she likes. (She has an awesome speech on this.) She also exhibits an uncanny loyalty to someone whose personality she cannot stand, which says a lot about how she sees Kirino as a person and a friend as opposed to “that girl who watches disgusting moe shows for adult male otaku, whom I always fight with”. She also exhibits the most growth throughout the show, making friends and acknowledging them as people she could healthily share her delusions with.
There’s Saori, whom I still have yet to write a post about. Saori is my favorite character, because she’s this kind of otaku Buddha, someone who understands that a good fan must be inclusive and open, not exclusive and elitist. She never hated on anything or told someone off for liking the wrong thing, or for liking something the wrong way. She also doesn’t fall into the trap of avoiding something because it might reflect negatively on her image, like how a teenager suffering from chuunibyou might attach himself to dark and edgy stories to give off a mature appearance. This is embodied through her disguise of Saori Bajeena, which is both to diffuse awkwardness by concealing her high-class upbringing (which would make it difficult for most people to approach her), and to assure her friends that she is no different from them. One might ask who the real Saori is, but in my mind, Saori Makishima and Saori Bajeena are one and the same.
From the extra episodes, there’s also Sena Akagi, the ultra-fujoshi. While not really a profound character, I find that she exhibits the awkward quality of otaku the most, in which they do not know that they are already turning people away in disgust with their obsession, be it through words or deeds. While I find her character extremely funny and entertaining, her example is to be avoided.
On a final note, I found it interesting that Kirino remains generally unlikeable throughout the show. I would say it is a tragedy, because I want to like her, because I understand where she’s coming from, but it never really happens. It says a lot when the show’s focus shifts away from its titular character (like Haruhi, but Oreimo’s case is far clumsier), and when another, more popular character gains the spotlight. There could have been much more, like Kirino seeing her ways to be childish and resolve to become a better person, but she remains pretty much naive and clueless to the great lengths her brother goes to secure her continued happiness. I suppose destroying the status quo would also destroy what makes it tick for most of its fans.
PS: These shitty light novel titles need to stop. Shitty being “repulsing people who aren’t part of the niche”. What should one first think about a title like My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute? I didn’t watch the show for the longest time because of that!