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.