The award for the most misleading title goes to…!
Probably not A Sister’s All You Need (AKA: Imouto Sae Ireba Ii) but it’s a pretty damn misleading name.
It’s definitely caused a bit of confusion for people deciding whether to watch it or avoid it like the plague, so before I start the review I feel like it’s necessary to say what this show is and what it isn’t.
This show isn’t...
-A little sister romance.
-A rip off of Eromanga-sensei.
-Ecchi, but there are few over-the-top lengthy fanservice scenes.
-A kids' show, despite how the characters appear.
-The horrifying events that occur in the first 3 minutes. It gets better after that, I swear.
This show is…
-About the ups and downs of being an artist.
-A character study. Yes, as ridiculous as that sounds this show is about the characters, not the story.
-A (perverted) gag comedy.
-Unfiltered. Characters do and say what they please. Be prepared to laugh and possibly to be offended.
No time is spared in establishing the perverted tone. Within the first three minutes of episode one, the main character’s horrifying sister fantasy is shown to the audience in grotesque detail. Later it’s shown that the main character’s editor is reading then spitefully denying his appalling work as he drops the script to the table (not unlike how I initially dropped the show after only that first scene). The start of the show may be a bit alienating to anyone who isn’t prepared for a sis-con, but it does a good job of preparing you for the show’s absurdity even if no other scene reaches the heights of the first few minutes. Don’t take this as praise though. The show knows where the line is between too much fanservice is, and it purposefully crosses it to get you to think about how disgusting the whole fantasy is. It’s self-deprecating for sure, but that’s part of the charm.
A sister obsessed light novel writer, his younger stepsister, a perverted novelist, his plain jane friend, and a few more writers and publishers make up the cast. The story is small in scale, but it gives the characters plenty of room to develop. The main character struggles to come up with new material and jokes ensue around him in his distraction. He gets some absurd story ideas turned down by his editor. He spends a lot of time in his apartment with his friends playing games, telling jokes, talking about anime, and this all brings about plenty of funny perverted gag humor. If you can’t gel with perverted humor then I don't think this is the show for you, but give it a chance beyond just judging a book by its cover.
Despite looking and acting like teenagers, the characters are used to adult life and often show their wisdom in conversations. They can be really perverted at times and seem like sickos but over time they grew on me. Through great moments of the character’s reflecting on themselves you’re able to get into their heads and understand why they are and what motivates them. For the characters to be so well developed it becomes easy to get invested in the ups and downs of their lives as they become adults. We learn about what formed them into the people they are through the many outgoing conversations they have with each other. They’re not perfect friends and their chemistry isn’t totally perfect, but the way they clash adds to their believability. I find myself justifying their actions no matter how deplorable by referring to the minor details that built their foundations as people.
All of their weird quirks just make them so believable, the weird insistence on sisters that Itsuki has, how Nayuta only writes naked, and Miyako’s jealousy of lives of her interesting friends. We know these characters for more than just their weird quirks. We seek how they interact with one another, not just the main character, we get a sense of what their lives are like outside of Itsuki's apartment. Even the supporting cast of publishers, freelance artists, writers, mangaka, and just normal people all have expressive enough personalities to carry the show for the brief time that they appear to offer some wisdom or humor.
I don’t gauge characters based on how realistic they may seem, I gauge them on believability. Could the characters in Imouto Sae Ireba Ii exist? Probably not, but after seeing what formed them into the people they are I’m more inclined to believe.
[Story: 7/10] Practically a slice of life. No ending.
[Character: 8/10] Well written, they offer a lot to think on. Believable.
[Art: 7/10] Lots of sitting, not a ton of animation. Some hilarious imagination scenes.
[Sound: 7/10] Simple op that gets minor changes from time to time, very chill ed.
[Enjoyment: 8/10] Unfiltered comedy, surprisingly emotional drama, drawn-out fanservice scenes.
[Final Score: 7.4/10]
Not every joke lands, but enough do to keep it enjoyable. What had me coming back to it week after week was the realistic drama mixed in randomly with the zany comedy that would surprise me when my guard was down. The characters evolved into people I actually liked, not just the stupid pandering archetypes I initially pegged them to be.