21 minutes, 12 seconds.
This number is your one chance to save yourself from the disasterphe that is the Oreimo ending. Once you reach this point in the final episode of the OVAs, stop the playback and end it right there. So long as you do, it provides a perfectly solid conclusion to the series with no cop outs or asspulls, and the rest of the story can easily be left to your imagination. If you are a glutton for punishment however, proceed at your own risk. Know that what you see cannot be unseen though. Trust me on this one, take the blue pill and stay in wonderland Neo. You don't want to know how far down the rabbit hole goes in this case. I'll take you out for a juicy and delicious steak instead.
I originally was planning on writing a review for the entire series, but upon completing this crime against humanity, that idea was quickly jettisoned out the airlock like a refrigerator aboard the Bebop. I consider myself fairly lenient when it comes to entertainment that pisses me off, as I can usually see at least some redeeming qualities about it to overlook its flaws and misgivings, but what Oreimo did was such a travesty, so anger, much shitty, wow... Erhmm, what I mean to say is, this is basically the worst ending to a series I've ever seen; beating out Berserk in maximum trollage of its fanbase. There is simply no justifiable explanation for what it did. It is the one cop out ending to rule them all. Thus, out of sheer anger and resentment, I feel compelled to write this very specifically targeted review in the off-chance that I might spare even one other poor soul from being sucked into the empty void that is the experience you will feel in the aftermath of Oreimo.
As this is a sequel to an anime entitled "My Little Sister Can't Be This Cute", by now everyone who has made it this far should be well aware of the incest undertones that are pervasive throughout the series. For some this has been off-putting, but they've managed to stomach it because of the interesting relationships and situations that have developed, or perhaps because it is animated and therefore not real, they don't see it as a problem. In my case, I've never had any problem with it. In fact, I actually rather liked this aspect about the anime. Much like the series' focus on otaku culture, it allows viewers to see how a social taboo could be painted in a positive light, but instead of just preaching to the choir by only focusing on otakus, the author also gets us to consider other socially unacceptable conduct and whether we should be quick to judge others when suddenly confronted with another behavior that we might not understand. With all this in mind, much of what you will see in this sequel finale should really come as no surprise for the most part, as the series continues to deliver exactly what it bills itself as.
I wanted to preface myself with all this so as to not be misconstrued as hating on this anime because of moral objections or because I just didn't get my favorite waifu pairing. To be honest, regardless of who Kyosuke decided to pick in the end, I would have been mostly satisfied so long as the execution was handled well enough. While I do have my personal preferences, at this point I had grown attachments to all of Kyosuke's major love interests, so I could have easily seen the story going many different directions. But the problem is that it wasn't executed well enough. It was executed abysmally. Actually, I take that back. The narrative did a pretty good job with its execution I guess. By dropping a guillotine on itself in its final moments.
What's so baffling about this whole debacle is that the vast majority of the content in these OVAs was in fact handled masterfully. Unlike so many other nameless harems, the main character isn't a clueless dunce that is just going to string his love interests along indefinitely; he had actually chosen who he wanted to be with, and he was prepared to suffer the consequences and fallout that would inevitably come of it. Therefore, this finale largely consists of Kyosuke confronting each girl of his harem and turning them down until he is eventually left with the only one he truly wants. As a result, we are given a dramatic and satisfying display of emotions from all the characters that, even though it was often heart-wrenching to watch, it tugged at my insides in all the right ways, and it was building up proper closure to the series. For this, I was preparing myself to give the OVAs the highest rating of the entire franchise, as it was shaping up to be the most fulfilling arc of them all. Then, inexplicably, with a single whisper in the ear, the story completely derailed itself and threw away everything it was building up to. All of Kyosuke's efforts and sacrifices up until this point were rendered effectively pointless, and absolutely nothing was accomplished by the end of the series.
To explain precisely how everything I just described is possible would be to spoil the story, and I'd like to keep this segment of the review spoiler-free until I get to my final footnotes, but if you really must know why it is so broken, the best way I can describe it to you in vague terms is that this is the Mass Effect 3 ending of anime. Huge breaches in logic, no closure, no resolution, no nothing. In fact, the scale of the cop out was so great that with the way Oreimo ended, viewers could start watching a theoretical third season of it having no foreknowledge of any of the events that transpired in the OVAs, and they wouldn't even notice that they had missed anything of substance. Despite a series of what should have been life-altering decisions, drama-packed confessions, and heart-breaking rejections, none of it actually amounted to anything and the anime was practically right back to square one where it started in the first season. Everyone has varying tastes when it comes to storytelling, but I think it's fair to say that no one would want an ending that is virtually identical to its beginning.
I could talk about the voice actors, which were great at their roles. I could talk about the animation, which was fluid and lives up to the quality of the rest of the series, but all of this doesn't matter. The ending was just so broken and so forced that nothing else could save it. In spite of all this, my leniency still managed to squeeze 3 points out of 10 from me because there was so much else that the OVAs got right, but it's still bad. Really bad. This is the first time where such a small segment of the narrative has so greatly affected my score simply because it is that atrocious. When all is said and done, we are left with a conclusion that emotionally manipulates its viewers and then kicks them all violently to the curb. It's particularly more nefarious than most because other cop out endings are usually done due to their source material being incomplete, but Oreimo doesn't have this excuse. The light novels are finished, and this was the official ending that was chosen, which means there is likely no planned continuation that gives a proper resolution to the story, and there is nothing to look forward to in its source material to provide any solace. Still, for an anime to be capable of eliciting this much emotion out of me, there obviously has to be something special there. And there is. Oreimo is still overall a good series and it was a fun ride while it lasted, but the ending will break you, so I repeat: 21 minutes, 12 seconds. Save yourself and do not forget this number.
***** SPOILERIFIC FOOTNOTES *****
Now if by some chance you didn't listen to my advice and foolishly stumbled ahead anyway, I'd just like to say right now that I told you so. Anyways, it's time to take the safety gloves off and make some final points that I couldn't touch on in my spoiler-free section of the review. So as we all know (since you didn't listen to my advice), Kyosuke chose his sister Kirino, but we find out later that the secret words Kirino whispered in Kyosuke's ear were a suggestion for them to end their relationship after they graduate, and perplexingly Kyosuke agrees as if this is actually a great idea. She doesn't really give an explanation for this proposition, which is what makes it all the more confusing that Kyosuke would accept it right away, but presumably the implication is that because this is an incest relationship, they must have believed it could never work out in the end due to society rejecting them, so this was the only way they thought they could go forward. Well that's all fine and dandy, except then WHAT THE HELL WAS THE POINT OF ALL THAT SACRIFICE? So the writers expect us to believe that even though Kirino's selfishness would never allow this, and even though Kyosuke already told everyone his true feelings and turned down several confessions that could have easily resulted in life-long fulfilling relationships, they would both cast all this aside just so they could have an intimate relationship for a few weeks? There is absolutely no way this would realistically happen, and it is completely inconsistent with the characters' motivations. Granted, Oreimo has hardly been a realistic series, but even relative to its own rules that it establishes for itself, it just doesn't work.
Given this sudden and massive breach of common sense, it seems rather obvious that it was the writers' intent to cheaply avoid controversy while still trying to have their cake and eat it too. However, even putting aside the huge inconsistencies this creates with the characters just so they could have this contrived ending, how does this even truly evade the moral outrage that they sought to tap dance around? I don't know if anyone noticed, but Kirino and Kyosuke already confessed to each other! They already slept together! They already held a wedding and kissed each other! For anyone who strongly objects to incest at this point, the line has already been thoroughly crossed, but instead they think they can still just back up their car and no one will notice that the finish line was passed. And that's the most frustrating thing about this all. The anime had already reached the perfect place to finish, but it just kept on going. Going backwards that is, and yet if it had simply ended where it was supposed to, it was already set for greatness.
If you don't have the balls to fully commit to your incestuous ending, then at least have the decency to not completely screw your main character over and make him choose someone else. Otherwise this is just insulting and it doesn't satisfy anyone. It doesn't appease Kirino fans, it doesn't appease Kuroneko fans, it doesn't appease Manami fans, it doesn't even appease the moral prudes that object to the incestuous undertones which is the whole reason for the asspull ending in the first place, so again I ask, what was the point? Now because of the way the producers chose to chickenshit out at the last minute, not only does it leave the conclusion completely unfulfilling, but it also ruins one of the biggest messages that was emphasized throughout the series. Kirino was always struggling to reconcile her true feelings with the clashing values of the society that will judge her for holding them, and in the end she always decided that it was more important to be herself and not give up who she truly is, yet I guess in this case the message is, "Just kidding, go back to repressing your true feelings because now they're suddenly a bridge too far." What a fantastically hypocritical pile of bile. Screw you dickless, ball-less producers at ASCII Media Works that are likely responsible for this sleight of hand from the mangaka.
*Drops the mic*