One year ago, Sagiri Izumi became step-siblings with Masamune Izumi. But the sudden death of their parents tears their new family apart, resulting in Sagiri becoming a shut-in which cut her off from her brother and society.
While caring for what's left of his family, Masamune earns a living as a published light novel author with one small problem: he's never actually met his acclaimed illustrator, Eromanga-sensei, infamous for drawing the most lewd erotica. Through an embarrassing chain of events, he learns that his very own little sister was his partner the whole time!
As new characters and challenges appear, Masamune and Sagiri must now face the light novel industry together. Eromanga-Sensei follows the development of their relationship and their struggle to become successful; and as Sagiri slowly grows out of her shell, just how long will she be able to hide her true persona from the rest of the world?
I don't normally tend to point fingers at people, but just this once I feel like I need to get some things off my chest here.
Almost every single season nowadays, it seems there has to be a scapegoat. An anime which you are somehow obliged to publically hate on or you'll be looked down upon by the community and no one will take you seriously. I'm honestly sick of this kind of group pressure/bandwagon mentality. We're now halfway through the year 2017 and yet hating on popular stuff over the internet is somehow still considered to be the coolest and best thing since sliced bread.
*Especially* when it's gross, creepy and immoral shit made for closet pedos, am I right? Shows like this really bring out the most toxic sides of the anime community.
When you have an anime which totally wears its heart on its sleeve and doesn't try to hide its true intentions in any way, why is it that so many people seemingly insist on still making themselves watch it even when it's clear as day that they're not going to like it and that they're not part of the target audience? Eromanga-sensei is one of the most blatantly polarizing series in the last few seasons, and quite frankly you should be able to easily figure out whether you will enjoy it or not just from reading the synopsis and by considering the fact that it is written by the same author as Oreimo.
In short, Eromanga-sensei features the following:
- A glimpse into the life of a young, aspiring light novel author in Japan
- Lots of references to other anime, light novels, the industry itself and more
- Pseudo-incestuous relationship themes (they're not actually blood-related)
- Somewhat trope-filling and eccentric characters
- Cutesy moe-style heroines
- Frequent suggestive shots of various middle school girls
- An abundance of romcom clichés and sexual gags
- Cameos of characters from Oreimo
- The perfect setup for providing tons of juicy ero-fanart and doujins
Now if you have a problem with several of these themes, you don't need to watch this anime. It really isn't any more complicated than that. It is clearly not for you, and you don't need to go out of your way to force yourself to watch it just so you can go on a lengthy rant afterwards about how trashy it is, how it is "pandering to otaku", label it as "pedo-bait" or anything along those lines. If you're not even part of an anime's target demographic then quite frankly you have no business trash-talking it for not adhering to your own standards—the problem lies entirely on your end in that case. Criticizing an anime for its execution is logical—criticizing an anime for merely belonging to a certain genre is not. You don't need to go on the aggressive from the safe place behind your monitor just to feel better about yourself. If your sole reason for watching an anime is to make fun of and insult the people enjoying it, you really need to get your priorities straight. Even more curious are some comments I've seen basically saying "i-it's not like I enjoy watching this terrible anime or anything, don't get the wrong idea, baka!", as if implying that either their morals or the group pressure is preventing them from admitting to themselves that they actually like it. Give me a break already.
On the other hand, as someone who actually does enjoy those kinds of themes and absolutely loves imoutos in general, Eromanga-sensei is a pretty solid anime that does just about all the simplistic things I could ask of it. It's cute, light-hearted, decently funny at times, has a lot of sexy shots of ero-kawaii and energetic moe girls, and is just plain fun and enjoyable in general. And as a result, what you have is a thoroughly entertaining anime despite everything. Yes, that is in fact all that's needed, as shocking as that might be for some people to believe.
In short, Eromanga-sensei follows the lives of a high school light novel author named Izumi Masamune and his hikikomori little sister Sagiri, who somewhat secretly works as an erotic illustrator for his novels amongst other things under the pen name Eromanga-sensei. The story follows both their struggles with their respective jobs as well as their relationship with each other as step siblings. There are also a number of other girls involved in one way or another, primarily the eccentric Yamada Elf who is also a top-selling light novel author, as well as the even more successful Senju Muramasa who on top of being an author is also Masamune's biggest fan. There's also Sagiri's pushy classmate Jinno Megumi who keeps trying to find ways to convince Sagiri to leave her room and go to school for once. It's a simple setup overall, but it serves as an easy way to get the protagonist and the various girls intimately involved with each other on both a personal and professional level, which is a good thing since the main selling point of Eromanga-sensei is the characters' interactions with each other.
As you can probably tell, it is all quite similar to Oreimo in not just the incestuous themes but the type of chemistry between the main characters and the side characters as well. And as it happens, they generally fulfill somewhat similar roles too. Just like Kirino, Sagiri is here the otaku imouto with a rather perverted hobby who is also quite obviously in love with her Onii-chan. In terms of personality though, they're very different from each other. Whereas Kirino was an outgoing honors student and a rather extreme tsundere, Sagiri is shy, reclusive and more of a dandere than anything, and she gets embarrassed easily whenever she's not hiding behind the mask of her online Eromanga-sensei persona. But perhaps most importantly, just like Kirino, Sagiri is incredibly sexy. The vast majority of the show's fanservice is centered on her in the form of various suggestive shots of her inside her room, but it's done in a rather smooth and natural way so it doesn't feel out of place. It's the type of eroticism which greatly enhances an anime's enjoyment value in my mind; the kind that makes you repeatedly pause the video to rape the screenshot button for academic purposes. I appreciate it quite a lot. It's no wonder that Sagiri has already been crowned the clear ero-fanart queen of the season by the Japanese portion of the internet, as is quite evident if you go visit just about any major anime image board at the moment (which is also a bit ironic considering that drawing such pictures is literally what Sagiri does for a living herself).
Similarly, if Sagiri is supposed to be "the new" Kirino, then you'd also have to argue that Elf is the new Kuroneko. Elf is the energetic and weird yet funny girl of the show, being an immensely talented writer but also a rather lazy one who only sees her work as a hobby, and thus only writes whenever she feels like it, much to the dismay of her editors. Furthermore, she's also a bit of a chuuni nutcase who consistently does stupid things for the amusement of all. As a result, while she's not quite as sexualized as Sagiri is, overall I would still say Elf is the most likable and entertaining girl of Eromanga-sensei due to how enjoyable her personality is. In other words it's pretty much the same story as with Oreimo where (in my opinion) Kuroneko was ultimately the best girl even though Kirino was sexy as hell. For all the old Ayase fans out there though, I'm sorry to say but there isn't really a replacement for her in Eromanga-sensei. Instead we have Muramasa taking the role of the third love rival, but she's not particularly similar. If anything she's the most publically affectionate towards Masamune out of the trio, but for rather... questionable reasons.
As far as the story itself goes, the viewers are pretty much told from the beginning that this will eventually head down the pseudo-incest route as Masamune and Sagiri are evidentially in love with each other and Masamune makes it quite clear on numerous occasions that she is the only girl he has eyes for. While he is still a little bit dense at times, Masamune at least has the guts to confess that he is in love with Sagiri from quite early on in the series, which is pretty commendable considering their relationship. However, it will probably take a while before that ship really sets sail, because in this (first?) season alone, there isn't really much in the way of romantic progression beyond that confession. It is more of a standard romcom in terms of execution thus far, but certainly not a bad one. Meanwhile we also have the ongoing subplot of the siblings trying to create the supposed "greatest light novel ever" together where Masamune writes the story and Sagiri draws the illustrations. It reminds me a bit of Bakuman in that sense, but of course it's not quite as forefront about it here. However, this subplot is most certainly something that really asks for a sequel one day.
Perhaps the biggest problem with Eromanga-sensei though is that despite everything, Masamune and Sagiri aren't actually blood-related. The main appeal of incest in anime to me is the general taboo feeling of it, you know: "it's forbidden, therefore it's exciting" and all. Making them step-siblings instead is thus both a bit of a boner-killer as well as a cop-out move by the author, and it kind of feels like the anime goes out of its way to remind the audience of this annoying fact a few too many times. However, if you're familiar with the infamous ending of Oreimo and more importantly the backstory behind why that happened in the first place, this was most likely a conscious decision by the author in order to make sure the same thing won't happen a second time around. Oreimo was kind of ruined by its terrible ending, so having the knowledge that at least Eromanga-sensei won't suffer the same fate is a bit of a relief. I just wish he didn't have to sacrifice part of the show's main appeal to ensure this part, but I guess SJWs are unfortunately just that powerful in today's society.
You probably shouldn't compare everything to Oreimo though—after all this is just as much of a standalone work as that was—but considering that even the main characters of Oreimo makes appearances in Eromanga-sensei, they're not only similar but evidentially also take place in the same universe and time span. For what it's worth though, minus its ending I would still probably say Oreimo was slightly better not only because of the blood-relation issue, but there was also more of a struggle there due to Kirino's conservative father being fully against her otaku hobbies, whereas in Eromanga-sensei, Masamune's parents are both conveniently absent from their house. It all feels a bit easier in Eromanga-sensei, which is not inherently a bad thing mind you but I think it makes it a little bit less unique. Then again, as they say: "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".
As far as the production values goes, the animation (done by A-1 Pictures) is... okay, I guess? Nothing out of the ordinary but enough for the girls to always look attractive, which is about all that's required in this case. On top of that, both the OP and ED of Eromanga-sensei are honestly great; they're both incredibly catchy tunes that easily stand out as among the best from this season.
Overall, Eromanga-sensei is a simplistic, cliché and quite lewd romcom which will surely turn off a lot of people due to its themes, but it excels at doing the exact things it sets out to do for its own specific target audience, and thus at least for me it was one of the more enjoyable shows of the season.
I also find it a bit ironic how other shows like New Game for example (which I also really liked) get to receive general praise from the community for doing nothing but showing cute moe girls working in the entertainment media industry, mixed with comedy and fanservice, yet Eromanga-sensei is receiving so much hate for doing basically the exact same thing? Hypocrisy at its finest. Are the incest themes really *that* big of a deal? Or is it the supposed ages of the girls? I mean really now? I can't help but feel legitimately sorry for people who let something like that ruin their enjoyment of an anime.
For better and for worse (mostly worse), Eromanga-sensei is the successor to OreImo and its themes of sister-banging. But where OreImo had some interesting things to say about the otaku community, Eromanga-sensei possesses nothing, and is nothing, puerile and creatively bankrupt.
Eromanga-sensei in many ways represents everything that is bad with light novels. It is a story (I guess, if we put aside its flagrantly incestual nature) of a group of twelve-to-fifteen-year-olds who are famous artists, as if adults do not and cannot exist. If Eromanga-sensei was taking inspiration from the scribbles of a bunch of middle school students, its rubbish writing would actually make
a great deal of sense.
Stop me if you've heard this one before: the protagonist and a sexy lady, both being inexperienced in the affairs of love, try to imitate romantic situations with one another as a source of creative inspiration. No? How about the protagonist's rival conveniently being revealed as a cute girl who is desperately in love with him? Or the heroine angrily retreating to her room and screaming "bakaaa!" as the camera pans away? See, Eromanga-sensei isn't an anime that is particularly concerned with sharing anything you haven't already seen in dozens or hundreds of other equally brain-dead romantic comedies. (And seriously, if I have to watch another anime with a hikikomori heroine who is portrayed as some goddess of attraction, I'm going to have an aneurysm.)
I suppose the difference here is that Eromanga-sensei is neither romantic nor comedic. It sure as hell is not funny (unless you are the type who thinks burping is the pinnacle of comedic genius), and its 'romance' is merely a thinly-veiled attempt to make it seem somewhat less like masturbation fodder. Fodder which, by the way, has a regularly sexualised heroine who is only twelve-years-old. Let that sink in for a second: twelve-years-old. She is twelve, and the anime frequently displays detailed shots of her ass, her panties, her naked body, and so forth, and even thinks it is amusing to have her friend (who is the same age, by the way) howling about how she loves penises. Yeah. Really.
Even if lolicon pornography does not bother you, it would be an impossible task to claim this contributes to the story or the characters in any meaningful way. It actively sabotages whatever emotional value it tries to create between Sagiri and Masumune's relationship, and makes it impossible to take seriously anything that happens or could conceivably happen. For example, the anime will reveal Masamune's tragic past in the span of about one minute, and then immediately open the next episode with a girl clad in her bikini and flirting with him. Eromanga-sensei doesn't even do the incest part right since it is more concerned with creating some periphery harem for Masamune than it is with developing his feelings for Sagiri beyond "hey I like you lol." It is stupid on the level of KonoSuba and yet has the audacity to pretend without a hint of sarcasm that it is some touching story. No.
It is actually a fairly sad result when compared to the author's previous work, OreImo. OreImo, flawed and infuriating as it was, actually put a great deal of time into making Kirino and Kyosuke's feelings for one another feel meaningful. Kirino was no doubt insufferable, but by the end, you could at least look at her as something more than an assortment of tropes and incest appeal. Likewise, it also went into a fair amount of detail with regards to the life of a stereotypical otaku. It represented Comiket, eroge, offline meetings, and the conflict people can have when they possess hobbies they are ashamed of. It was no Genshikan, but OreImo did at least try to contribute something to the industry with more appeal than "well, gee, banging your sister sounds like a fun idea."
The same cannot be said for Eromanga-sensei, which does and says nothing about the industry. Any moment when it does display the struggles of Masamune's career, it is extremely, unbearably dull, and often propelled by silly plot devices like one of his love interests offering all their royalties in return for Masamune becoming their slave. The whole premise of being a light novel author is an accessory that may as well not even exist. If you stripped all the fanservice away, all that would expose is the show's unsightly skeleton.
I can't think of any situation where Eromanga-sensei could come as a recommendation. It is asinine dreck, without so much as a modicum of creativity. I suppose its colourful art and catchy opening animation may lead some people into thinking the anime is more than it truly is, but it is best to be honest: the sole reason anyone likes this show is because they want to bone the twelve-year-old heroine.
Eromanga Sensei is a harrowing tale of love, lust and youthful ignorance. Despite not being overly fond of the word "Deconstruction", it might be the only way to describe the show from a critical standpoint. This review will go in-depth on each individual character and story arc, and thus no words will be minced. If you are under 18 and/or faint of heart, please seek guidance of a guardian when reading this analysis. Viewer discretion is highly advised. Society Might Condemn It, But the Gene Pool Won't: An Odyssey
Story / Characters
Perhaps the element the Eromanga community would vouch to be
the strongest would be its relentless story. Despite being genre-defiant, it has a clear narrative that it follows through from beginning to end without catering to any unnecessary tropes nor ending up as preachy, convoluted, hipster bait, so-far-up-their-own-ass shows in the same vein such as the likes of Neon Genesis Evangelion. Coming equipped with powerful and bone-chilling bonafide theme exploration, it chooses not to hold your hand, but to make you think critically by painting a well defined picture of moral greyness. Several anime have extensively tried developing upon this theme in the past, and several anime have failed miserably. But to that I say - no more. Perhaps drawing closest inspiration from the likes of Koi Kaze, an anime heavily reliant on fanservice and otaku-pandering to keep itself afloat with very little legitimate theme exploration of the traditional Japanese family bonding. My heart has sunk deep into my chest for merely making the comparison between the two, but it is worth noting that Eromanga capitalizes off of Koi Kaze's strongest themes and maximizes the end result by tenfold. Despite some respectable attempts, by the start of Koi Kaze I was like "This is boring". And by the end of Koi Kaze, it was dropped. But if it wasn't dropped, I'd still be like "This is boring". The consistency gap between them is apparent as night and day, but I digress.
Backpedalling to the theme of grey morality, it is utilized superbly in a multitude of ways. Despite the Japanese being so openly passionate about family bonding and the like, you'd think it to be a glorified tradition buried in their country's lineage for generations to both go and come. But it's not, at least I don't think it is. Even if it were, it is certainly not viewed upon in the same light as it is in Western societies, making it a more taboo topic for some, and its' current mean score is a clear indication of how a select few people from our community would rather indulge in meandering drivel than intellectual discussion regarding serious topics. They shun it for what it is, not what it hopes to accomplish. Japan's declining birthrate has been a well known and lowkey-touchy subject, especially for the citizens themselves. No one is eager to be brought out of extinction due to a national epidemic of personalized sex robots, incapable of producing offspring. The youth of Japan is rapidly dying and infertile 3D waifus have enslaved the brave men who once fought and gave their lives for their country, thus having society collapsing in on itself. How do you ever handle such a vile outbreak? Tsukasa Fushimi is not only a light novel author, but also a visionary. Make them fuck their sisters, of course.
Regarding the actual show, it follows a very straight-edge protagonist during the period of his life he would later come to look back upon as "Blissful ignorance". Masamune was just a boy when he saw his mother being brutally murdered by his father, John, in a drunken rage, until pleading innocent in front of a jury. Despite the 23 stab wounds, it was decided upon that they were self-inflicted as she had been dealing with substance abuse for many years now. Oddly enough, life simply went on for Masamune. He figured he was supposed to be sad or guilt-struck, but he simply continued with his daily routine as if nothing had happened. "Is human life so meaningless after all?", he quietly pondered to himself during the hours his father was out drinking. He would occasionally bring women home with him, but Masamune, although slightly annoyed eventually became numb to it, despite being able to hear a relentless sound of a bed squeaking from his father's room during the late hours of the night. This behavior stopped only after John had suffered an implied stroke. Fast-forward a few years, Masamune has developed a psychological interior shell seemingly impossible to penetrate through by anyone coming from the outside, leading to him becoming a social outcast. Despite his father having simmered down and becoming completely inattentive and barely responsive due to health problems, the doorbell rang. It was another woman. Masamune was struck by surprise and a slight chill went through his spine as all the memories came rushing back.
This time was different, however. Behind the woman was none other than a young girl, no more over the age of 10. If he could describe his life as a picture frame, she just wouldn't fit - He quietly muttered to himself. The innocence of a snowflake, something so alien to him made him naturally uneasy. It was kind of frightening, actually. That was the day they met, a blissful encounter in a world with otherwise no empathy for the weak. Because all happiness must come to an end, this relationship had seemed to have come to an unexpected close with the sudden passing away of their parents came to fruition. Masamune couldn't deny it, he wanted his father out of the picture for a long time now. He felt nothing but disgust for him due to living in constant anguish and fear for many years now. He thought he didn't care what happened to him, as long as his father was gone. But now that his wish has come to past, he was left feeling perplexed. How is he supposed to take care of his sister now? How is he to preserve the sole, flickering light in his life? He had to take measures into his own hands, thus shattering the shell he was embroiled in for so many long years. He finally found something to live for, hence turning to his hobby as it was the only thing he really had left. "I'm not going to lose her as well", he spouted with a burning passion in his eyes and a really long motivational speech by the likes of Martin Luther King. As he tried his hardest to make his hobby full-time, he had ironically never once actually considered the feelings of the person he was doing it for, Sagiri.
Sagiri had always been a troubled but fragile girl. Yet despite this, she would always find joy in the smallest of things. It wouldn't be farfetched to deem her father as the central figure of her life or an inspiration, as children often come looking up to their parents during years of adolescence. Naturally it must have come as a surprise when he left for another. Left only with her mother who had turned to drinking, she saw the joy of living being slowly sucked away in front of her very eyes. Such a minuscule change seemed to have shattered her entire world view, never to return. She would be rejoiced upon hearing the news of her mother finally being reunited with a significant other, as she figured a father figure was pivotal to her happiness. Having an older brother wasn't particularly necessary, but she didn't mind. Within that one day, she felt like maybe there would come a time when she could finally laugh genuinely again. However, upon gaining knowledge of their passing, she really did have no one left to turn to this time around, hence choosing to seclude herself from the world that had no problem in treating her misfortune so casually. It was icing on the cake. Becoming a shut-in was possibly the first choice she had made on her own ever since her mother took control of her life. She would quickly become increasingly more dependent on her brother, as he attended to her every day without falter as she'd obnoxiously pounce on the floor with bare feet. She felt bad but didn't know how to capture his attention otherwise. Unknowingly she grew more and more fond of him, but those feelings weren't merely as platonic as imagined.
Seeing as she was still moderately sad, she needed a distraction to keep her mind from all the trauma that had all been recently inflicted upon her over the span of a single year. By this point, she would never make the mistake of idealizing a person just because of blood relation or an age gap. Certainly, she did not want to end up like her mother, but she did need something to keep her mind afloat all the bleakness and depravity. That's when she swore an oath to dedicate her entire existence to something meaninful that will contribute society as a whole. She turned to lowkey porn. That's not to say she became a prostitute at the age of 10, no, rather she came equipped purely with honed talent, a pen and paper. The rest of the story from there follows the theme of ambition as their relationship shifts just everso slightly out of focus. At first seeking individuality, they later decide to team up in order to make their dreams a reality all the while still much oblivious to each other's growing feelings. Along the way they meet many troubled personalities, rivals and form companionships among whom Yamada Elf and Muramasa Senju perhas stick out the most from.
You might have noticed that by now the common thread of all these characters are their parent issues, and Elf Yamada is certainly no exception. Coming from a wealthy and very strict family, she had been brought up mostly be her single mother who had perhaps done so only due to pure obligation. Upon confessing to Masamune, she tells him, and us, the viewer, how her late father had been very pathetic when proposing to her mother, but it was something she admired. This honesty goes in direct corespondence with everything her character stands by, be it the loud pompousity or the snarky attitude that intentionally makes it seem like no one is worth her time. Although I wasn't a fan of her at first, her character quickly grew on me by episode 9 and easily claims the spot in my top 5 Eromanga characters of all time list. She also has very pointed ears which I imagine could either be her being really devoted to her pen name or a result of some deeply-rooted deformity that runs in the family.
Senju Muramasa is a shy but caring girl who approaches Masamue solely in the hopes of completely eradicating him and his ambition whole. Unbeknownst to him, she is actually his biggest fan and devotee who is only upset because he switched genres midway through his crappy light novel career. Albeit a practical decision since Masamune's novels didn't sell shit, some diehard fans always get a feeling of betrayal when their favorite artists leave behind what got the viewer invested in the first place. Her character is perfect practise of radicilism and how simple admiration can turn into eerie obsession, with her even getting to confess her love to him at some point, despite only meeting once or twice and being completely oblivious to him as a person rather than an author. The sad truth is that she has memory loss issues and even though she is a successful light novel author, she often ends up even forgetting her own work. Some might view this as being "unrealistic", but alzheimer's tend to develop at a younger age than most people think which may or may not be related to her never changing clothes and staying that one rugged kimono for the entirety of the series. This haunting look at mental illness grants her entry into my top 5 Eromanga characters of all time list with ease.
Chris Yamada is an international drug kingpin who started his career early in his teenage years. He had always had a very narrowminded and pessimistic outlook on the world and saw himself as above the law. He could see through people, their personalities, their feeble and petty conflicts, facades and insecurities. He saw through it all. After he learnt of his father's terminal cancer, he was baffled and confused. After a one-on-one talk with him, Chris finally understood the reason behind his father's absence for so many days on end. "It shall be passed on to you", he said. At that moment Chris' worst fears came to fruition, upon finally realizing he never had any choice to begin with. We all walk a pre-determined path, a path already paved by someone else. Chris continued on his his family's lineage and inherrited his father's drug money shortly after his passing. He had to start low so he immediately settled for a light novel publishing company, partly because he saw it as a convenient base of operation and partly because he knew his little sister, Emily, also took interest in it. It would not be an exagguration to state if there was anyone in the world he truly cared for, it'd be his younger sister, a trait he would later recognize in Masamune as well. It would take years of traficking and illegal underhandedness before their faithful encounter. Staring deep into his eyes, Chris could only see a younger version of himself staring back at him with an expression of sheer disasppointment. He realized how badly he mistreated his younger sister by leaving her all alone and then using her as an act to bypass suspicision if anyone wondered why he owned a publishing company. It was the last straw. Chris would then go on to become an impressive businessman after dropping the drug act, before completely going off the radar never to be seen again. Some say he finally made his way to Rivendell.
Art / Animation / Sound
A story that will surely be passed on to generations to come. For every generation has one or more things that serve to define it by revolutionizing the public's outlook on certain subjects and shaping society as a whole. During my grandfather's youth, it might've been the Beatles. During ours, my friends, well, the answer is a given. I bid everyone a farewell now, as I must get going. I have spent far too much time on this, far more than I'm willing to admit. Shoutouts to the moderator team and my reviewing career.
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Eromanga-sensei is a culmination of everything I hate in lazy, insipid, vacuous, pandering entertainment. Now, to clarify, first of all, I don't believe that just because an anime, or any piece of entertainment, panders towards a certain demographic, that it is inherently bad necessarily. There have been plenty of anime that pander towards the otaku audience while, at the same time, remaining fun, and some instances, good shows, but Eromanga-sensei is not such an example. It's a show that lives by the convention in terms of its plot structure, comedy, character archetypes and dives head first into trashiness at any moment it can get.
What could have been an interesting look into why and how people who shut themselves inside their homes live on a daily basis, akin to something along the lines of Welcome to the N.H.K or something, the show just decides to opt out instead for loli fan-service instead, ditching anything that made Oreimo, somewhat enjoyable, and, in some parts, decent. Before I continue, I'd just like to clarify that I am not hating on this show just because the original creator also created Oreimo. As I just said, I found that show to be decent (until the ending anyway) but it also had a few things that I could appreciate when it comes to meta humour about otaku and the anime industry as a whole. Eromanga-sensei has none of that. It's pointless, empty and has no value as a show at all. It's trash in every sense of the word.
Now, before I dive into the numerous reasons of why I believe this show to be as terrible as I think it is, let's discuss the plot first of all. Masamune is a somewhat successful, trashy light novel author who has been writing for several years now to support his younger step-sister, Sagiri, a shut in, absolute brat, who refuses to go out and stamps on the floor of her bedroom whenever she wants anything. While Masamune writes these books, and even has illustrations done for him, he doesn't actually know who this illustrator actually is, who goes by the name 'Eromanga-sensei' who actually turns out to be Sagiri herself! That's right! A 13-year-old girl draws erotic pictures! Oh boy! Anyway, the rest of the show sees Masamune and Sagiri begin to bond and grow closer together, while splicing in some romance between the two (because that's fucking needed between siblings, am I right?) while Masamune is challenged by numerous other light novel authors in the business for slots in magazines, eventually becoming their friends and going along their merry way. The show's narrative is incredibly simple and boring to boot since there is no objective or even direction in the story. It moves awkwardly from scene to scene with no sense of flow or reasoning behind any of the characters and the entire show just feels like one big filler arc from a long running shounen series or something. Now, I'm not saying that all anime need some kind of story, especially if it is going for comedy, but Eromanga's comedy in itself is fucking terrible, repetitive and so predictable, mostly derivative from seeing characters becoming embarrassed at removing their clothing, or from juvenile misunderstandings. One such example is a joke centred around a gay misunderstanding, in which another light novel author believes that Masamune is gay and has the hots for him, resulting in some of the most dreadful gags in the show. It feels like a 14-year-old wrote the entire thing, which is ironic, considering that I can only imagine that demographic finding this sort of weak comedy actually funny.
Sagiri's problem of being a shut in was the only, the ONLY thing that the show had going for it and it throws it out so fucking fast! I was genuinely interested to see what the show may do with this element; perhaps comment on the bigger picture of shut ins in Japan perhaps, or delve into the psychological reasons behind this character's reasoning for why she has to say inside, but nope! They ditch this element and Masamune doesn't even try and help her with this issue at all, and instead panders towards. He doesn't try to make her see why this is a problem, nor does his try to help her go into the outside world or anything. Sagiri is there just to be cute and that's fucking it! We hardly learn anything about her as a person and she is such a brat that I can't stand every moment that she is on screen. Like most bad shows, the anime attempts to throw incest into the mix, and it comes across as so forced and disgusting. As someone who has three little sisters myself, one of which isn't actually related to me by blood, the thought of Masamune and Sagiri enterting into a romantic relationship generally disgusts me to no end and all I hear people shout is "INCEST IS WINCEST" constantly, actually hoping the two will get together in the end. I also just hate the general excuse of "oh! They're not related by blood, so it's fine!". No it's not. It's just as creepy and strange. To me, this aspect of the show baffles me, and I've never understood the appeal of little sisters in anime. This problem is also highlighted by the fact that we have young 13-year-old girls proclaiming that they love dicks out in public, just for all of the filthy weebs to rub their dicks at the thoughts of seeing this in action or something.
One of the things the show has received a lot of flak for, is the excessive amounts of loli fan-service all around; most of the cast consists of young girls, who are consistently put into revealing swimsuits or underwear. Now, I don't necessarily have any problem with fan-service in a series, as long as it serves some kind of purpose or is not intrusive on the narrative at any point.
It feels like Eromanga-sensei's fan-service scenes were made for the sole purpose of padding the episodes out and the whiplash from seeing a bunch of kids half naked, to a heartfelt speech about love is so fucking jarring that it makes each one of these scenes an absolute chore to watch since you know that nothing is happening and is just killing time. Not only that, but the situations the show sets up for its fan service feels just as equally as contrived and weak, and it's not like the fan-service by itself is even that alluring either as the animation and art style is bland as fuck. While not a good show by any stretch, the currently airing Sin: Nanatsu no Taizai, is a much better example of a fan-service vehicle since it is full frontal with its trashiness and doesn't try to hide underneath the pretence of being anymore than that like Eromanga-sensei does with its terrible attempt of sounding more emotional and deep. The show has a plethora of more emotional moments and speeches between each of its characters, all of which are generic as fuck, but the main problem is that they feel like a cheap attempt at making these characters have more depth than they actually have. Nowhere is this more evident than in penultimate episode of the show, where we learn that Masamune and Sagiri were contacting each other over the internet even before they met and formally became brother and sister. This twist feels needlessly convenient and lazy. That's the best word I can use to summarise this show: it's lazy.
Speaking of the characters, every single one is terrible, boring and are essentially archetypes of already existing characters that have been done to much better effect in the past. Masamune is your generic as fuck main lead, who has a kind soul, is a hard, earnest worker, has a soft voice and gets embarrassed and flustered whenever a girl is revealing any clothing within his proximity. Oh, and every girl falls in love with him, just because the plot demands them to do so. He is so boring and forgettable that I am falling asleep just writing about him. Sagiri is a character, I swear, is only as popular as she is just because she is cute, is a little sister, and wants to draw girls in their underwear, and demands her brother to gain samples in order for her to achieve this. She certainly has nothing about her as a person, nor does she actually develop in the show, to her to be considered a good character by any stretch of the imagination, so these elements are the only ones I can think of to justify her popularity, especially considering the amount of porn that has circulated around of her on Twitter and many Discord channels I have come across. As I have already mentioned, I hated this character, with a burning passion! She is so selfish, and acts so much like a brat, screaming "ONII-CHAN IS A BAKA!" at the top of her lungs that I feel like reaching through the monitor of my laptop and slapping her in her face. While, yes, she does warm up to her big brother to a certain extent (a little too much if you know what I mean) her character is just incredibly stale and unoriginal. She has no merits at all, and as I have already discussed, any possible potential for her development in regards to her shut-in problem is thrown completely out the window because the show is too lazy to even have one decent theme. We do learn the back-stories to both Sagiri and Masamune, something I can appreciate, it feels so tacked on and forced that it leaves no impact, and, instead, feels like, again, a lazy and cheap way for the audience to care about these two without building up their characters at all. A sad and tragic back-story is a good way to make a character feel tragic and helps the audience empathise with them, but the character also has to develop too and, at the same time, be well written, which this show fails at.
Despite my hatred for Sagari (and little sisters in anime in general) even she is nowhere near as bad as Yamada, mother-fucking Elf! She is another light novel author, only this time, stuck up her own ass, believing she is the greatest thing that has ever walked on the planet. She is also extremely selfish, but also EXTREMELY annoying to watch, due to her actions and her voice actress. Hell, one of our earliest introductions to her character is when she is playing the piano in her house while also being completely naked at the same time! Thanks Eromanga-sensei, I am, as everyone else is, now on the FBI watch list. FUCK. While her character does eventually confess her love for our dry-as-wood main protagonist, her character arc (or lack of character as a whole) goes nowhere. Her only point in the narrative is fan-service, and that's it. She is not interesting, fun to watch and every scene she was in only drew me closer to kicking the chair from beneath my feet to taste the sweet release of death from this shitty world. The only somewhat decent character is Muramasa, another girl who falls for Mr Light Novel Guy (our protagonist) and the only character who has some reasoning and justification into her love for him. As a whole, the characters themselves are very weak and the comedic chemistry the show attempts to build between them doesn't work at all, and, again, feels so trite and forced to boot.
The overall aesthetic is just fine, very typical of what you'd expect from A-1 Pictures. The character designs were somewhat cute (so much so that one of my friends said he would 'destroy' Sagairi if you catch my drift) but it just feels so mundane and 'safe'. The same thing can be said about the music too. While the opening and ending track were both fine (especially the ending track which was both catchy as fuck, and, admittedly cute seeing Sagairi dance despite how much I hate her) the music as a whole is horribly generic, which, at the very least, is consistent with the show.
Now, one thing people may say in defence of the show is that you're supposed to just enjoy it and not take anything seriously since the show doesn't really take itself seriously at all. With its outlook on the workers of the light novel industry, it presents its characters as all being rather incompetent and it seems to acknowledge, to some degree, that these writers are indeed bad, but tries to excuse and justify this by claiming that the stories are interesting to read. This philosophy presented in the show may also arise in arguments in favour of the show, which, I guess is fine, but I didn't find anything about this show interesting at all, and certainly not entertaining. The comedy is extremely weak, the characters are boring archetypes that go nowhere and the entire show sexualises young girls to ridiculous degrees. Yes, the show is somewhat self aware of how trashy it is, but just because it is so, doesn't make the anime any good. In fact, it only makes it worse since it does nothing else to subvert or go against these troupes presented in the show, and instead decides to go down the lazy route, and just appeal to the lowest common denominator. Now, I want to make it clear now, that I do not begrudge anyone for actually enjoying this show, as the tone in this review may suggest otherwise. I honestly am glad if you managed to find enjoyment in a show that I found so repulsive, and more power to you because of that. But, for me, this show was abysmal in every possible way, and I'll be seeing you all in prison when the FBI eventually tracks us all down...