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 has 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 as of why I believe this show to be as poor 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, t, 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 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 poor, 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 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 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 entering 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 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 rather generic and uninspired. 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 any more 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, 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 the 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 siblings. 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 are essentially archetypes of already existing characters that have been done to much better effect in the past. As such, I often inadvertently find myself comparing them to similar characters, even when I dislike doing so as I wish to treat each piece of media as its own thing. Masamune is your generic main lead, who has a kind soul, is a hard, earnest worker, has a soft voice while getting 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! Sagiri, likewise, has very little to offer in terms of character or personality. As I have already mentioned, I disliked 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 idea. 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 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. Oh boy. 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 hell, 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...