This is a pretty hard one to write. I don't want to scoff any of the points I've thought about well watching this anime, so I hope I can convey every thought I want here. Firstly, even though there's a lot of them, I want to address the negatives right away this time. This review will be spoiler heavy, so I will cut off here with a short, non-spoiler version to start off. Then separate it from the main, spoiler review with a visible warning from when it starts.
Hmm, explaining the entire context concisely without spoilers. Uh, let's see, the main character loves to study, but every girl is instead trying to get on his dick. Despite coming off as nice to each other, all of them are pretty mean to the male lead. The main girl in particular makes his life a living hell. If you watch all of this, I can assure you that you are expecting another mostly generic harem. Bright points are the art style being nice to look at, voice acting being pretty top notch and the soundtrack is quite nice on the ears. All of the tones for the girls, even for Japanese voices, sound fairly distinct from each other.
Upon finishing the whole anime, I believe you could identify every one of them by their voice. This anime won't leave very much to remember and, at least I felt, it has a lot of mental stress the longer you watch it. For those who dislike watching an innocent character get tormented, this anime may not be for you. Nothing too physically brutal, but more verbal. Sometimes, public shaming. I would suggest watching it with a friend to get a better experience with it, since there's a lot to nitpick more than there is to wholesomely enjoy.
(END OF "I want to see this for myself" REVIEW)
So, before we can analyze it, we must explain it. Ore no Kano- Oreshura follows the plot of studyholic Eita as he tries to pursue a difficult career path and insists on studying whenever he can, being the top of his grade. He has a childhood friend who mooches off of him frequently, named Chiwa. Short, petite and cute enough to be perfect eye candy for loli viewers. And will most likely be girl of their choosing as you realize the rest are pretty developed in comparison.
Our story starts here, then. Eita wants to study a lot, goes on about how love is worthless and is, more or less, content with being single for the rest of his life due to certain family circumstances that made him grow to hate the very idea of it. Then out of nowhere, a new transfer student- this isn't the part you care to read about, you know how this goes. She naturally becomes the main girl for the rest of the anime upon her introduction, but not in the ways you'd expect.
Enter Masuzu, a literally self-proclaimed bitch whose whole goal is to make the viewer hate her, but despite this, she still ranks pretty high on this site. That's because your hatred toward Masuzu is actually justified for the story they're telling to make sense. Her character is very hateable, so much so that even the other girls dislike her a lot. I have more to say on her, but we will get to that later.
The only other significant male character is Kaoru, who is pretty dormant for a good chunk of the anime and initially serves as Eita's lunch buddy at best, offering mild dialogue and opinions toward Eita's strenuous situations. He comes off as a bit of a trap, but is still pretty boyish in design. I imagine a good handful of viewers were fooled, however.
The story unfolds a bit more, now with all these characters set to be the only ones you see for a little while. Masuzu actually has a blackmail plot set in motion for Eita, starting by trying to get him slightly closer to her. Then, upon walking home from school together, she reveals that she has acquired his personal journal, which contains stories of his chuuni-driven youth. From here, she threatens to expose all of his embarrassing thoughts to the world, but will hold onto them safely as long as he pretends to be her fake boyfriend. Masuzu meets Chiwa shortly after and the three eventually end up in an unofficial school club about, you guessed it, love. And from here, the anime continues to fold with these characters and their antics, primarily involving Masuzu setting up bizarre schemes for the sake of having fun watching other suffer, as well as she herself occasionally reading off of Eita's journal to Chiwa, describing them as wise words of her first love. Eita, always, sits through these and suffers.
Himeka, uh, I really can't describe this one for very long, even knowing I am now allowed to delve into the plot more. There is a comical, then brutal, fight scene that breaks out fairly early on in the anime and Himeka is one of the bystanders during this. Through witnessing this, she immediately falls in love with Eita. Himeka serves as the most absurd of the girls due to her abrupt introduction and similarly being a chuuni, same as Eita, albeit she still embraces it. She has cute characteristics, but is also busty and has a relaxed voice on top of this. For the more unique fetishists out there, Himeka may have something for you.
Then, the same events continue, now with Himeka present in the club as well. The most notable moments that Himeka commits to are when she first meets Eita, as she was very quick to embrace him, much to the annoyance of the other girls. She is the only girl in the anime besides Masuzu who blatantly lies to everyone, calling Eita her "ex-boyfriend" to explain why she is so affectionate around him. And, occasionally, she tries to embrace him whenever she can, as well as making him feel sexually frustrated due to her innocent personality, attractive body and similar chuuni ideas.
Lastly, we are introduced to the most flamboyant girl of the four, Ai. You think you've seen it all, but you have never seen a tsundere like Ai before. Initially starting off with the trait more generically, she blossoms into one of the most unique girls in the entire cast. Frequently being manipulated and teased, Ai is meant to make the viewer laugh and nothing more almost all of the time. Indeed, her greatest trait is that she is a tsundere character that also serves as comical relief. Perhaps, the first I've seen in an anime and most likely why she ranks above Masuzu.
Now that all of the girls are into play, the anime begins to develop them as it continues. As you would expect, Masuzu gains the most development, but quantity isn't necessarily quality, even in the anime world where most are cursed to have only twelve episodes. Yes, even a character that doesn't have very many scenes can outshine one that has a multitude, but we will get on that later. The anime's dynamic remains, mostly, unchanged.
The most notable change to happen to the default flow is that Kaoru, previously only a lunch buddy of Eita's for quite a number of episodes, is now a significant character due to the fact he knows Ai very well and, unlike any other character in the anime, is able to control her very well, isn't afraid to be blunt with her and actually manages to swing in another dynamic that isn't the usual antics of Masuzu or her club. Eita, Kaoru and Ai actually have quite the handful of scenes together, which is a nice change of pace from the normal flow you grew used to, as Eita is not tormented and their conversations feel more natural.
I really don't believe I am scoffing anything, despite how airheaded my statements sound. If you watch the anime yourself, you will grow to see that it really does unfold pretty similarly. But, now that I have a lot of context out of the way, it's time to delve into the negatives.
Every girl in the anime actually has their own personal moment with Eita at one point, something I actually did appreciate...at first. It came off as healthy exposition, was a good way to get to know them and it made it seem like there would be more unique developments. Despite this, however, the girls still generally treat Eita the same as they did when they first met him, much to my annoyance. This annoys me in a lot of anime, however. There are scenes where the female seems like they are respecting the male more, but then they still go back to the same dynamic, as though they are acquaintances again. As such, Oreshura is not breaking any new ground with this, but it's certainly still annoying nonetheless. And for an anime that actually does a fairly good job at tying the girls' backstories together, it's shameful they don't feel that important when their bonds don't feel like they've strengthened with Eita, yet seem that way with one another.
As I said before, Masuzu has frequent scenes where she reads off Eita's journal in front of Chiwa, but that further expands to all the other girls. I find it extremely annoying since you have to sit through her shamelessly reading his personal sentiments in front of others, sometimes in scenarios where there's abuse humor from them slapped onto Masuzu's reading. Most notably, one instance where Chiwa wanted to hear something from it one time, due to the way Masuzu phrased it, and both her and Himeka held down Eita, forcing him to endure it and being whacked whenever he tried to stop it. These scenes, I believe, served no purpose at all in the anime other than to be funny to those who love this stuff. As I have said, more times than I can count by this point, a lot of people love abuse humor. More power to you for being able to laugh a lot at it, but even trying, I can not see why it is funny to see Eita suffer, especially due to how nice his character is.
Which brings me to my most notable point, the suffering. Unlike other abuse humor cases I've witnessed in anime before, Eita's pain seems really dark by comparison. The worst of it actually begins around the arc where they go to the beach, to determine who is the one for Eita. As a bonus, of course, these episodes tailor toward the viewer seeing every girl in their bathing suit, a classic anime trope. However, one of the running gags really did not sit well with me. They managed to break new ground in one area, I suppose.
Okay, so you have the standard "melon breaking" game taking place. Guess who is the one- Eita. They blindfold him, but don't give him a stick to hit the melon with. Pretty interesting, so this grabbed my attention to see how it would go. They said to use his head to hit the melon and all of the girls are giving him directions as to where the melon is, with some of the lines actually being pretty funny. Masuzu is the last one to give him a direction, completely different from where everyone else was guiding him. Oh, but I left out some context. Eita and Masuzu are being suspected of being a fake couple by this point, so Eita intentionally chose to follow Masuzu's word over the others, despite how obvious it was that she was in a completely different direction. He finds some "melons" alright and this scene was almost pretty comical, as I was wondering why he had to use his head to hit it over a stick in the first place. He falls onto Masuzu and begins inadvertently groping her, following the other classic trope of "why is this so soft" and my expectations were that this scene would end, maybe, with Masuzu trying to comically push him off and say he is "too daring" or something.
Much to my surprise, however, all of the other girls, knowing he is blindfolded, scolded him for being a pervert and, not joking, duct tapped the word "LEWD" (in Japanese) onto his back, so that once he ripped it off, it would leave the mark. Now, this may not seem as dark as I made it out to be, but what really sets me off about it is that he has already had a bonding moment with each of the girls by this point, on top of all of them knowing how Masuzu is. Eita was blindfolded, yes he did go out of his own way to listen to Masuzu himself, but he definitely did not intentionally aim to grab her chest. The "squeeze" thing is just a trope that they do cause they're confused as to what they're touching, so that doesn't really count as an intentionally perverted action. It just hit a lot of wrong notes for me, due the exposition I was given before, and I feel the punishment he received was very harsh.
The same thing happens one more time, this time with one word for each arm, when he is trying to encourage Himeka to go up onstage for a certain scene. Basically, Himeka gets one more deep moment with Eita, she does the usual embrace, but this time, Eita embraces her back, saying something very nice to her (watching the whole scene, with the atmosphere and all, helps more than me explaining it in its entirety) and it's pretty meaningful. But, after this, the duct tape punishment happens again and, well, I thought it was a bizarre thing to do to him.
There's a lot more I could go on about, but then it might sound more like a rant and less like a review, so I wanted to keep it as short as I could. It's fairly obvious by now, but abuse humor never sits well with me since it's usually executed in very poor ways. I'm not blindly hating on the whole anime over it, but rather how it uses it. And it happens a bit more in the series beyond the beach arc. It's just hard because his character remains so nice and he receives little to no reward for this kindness.
Oh, but I suppose I did say I would mention the positives at the end this time. One thing Masuzu said really hit me pretty hard. "No matter how well I pretend to be your girlfriend, I can't do anything about time." I have witnessed certain relationships that "blossomed" way too early and the one thing Oreshura made clear was that Chiwa has the deepest bond with Eita out of the other girls. Indeed, you need time to have such a bond with someone. And as manipulative as she was, I appreciated that quote a lot.
And, well I surprisingly did not bring it up once earlier, Eita actually has random phases where goes into what I'd like to call "Chuuni Mode" as his eyes go absurd and he transforms back into his wild, youthful self, complete with the imaginary backstories he made up and moves. The first time this happened was rather hilarious, but he actually does this during that "fight" I mentioned earlier. It starts off with him being in that mode, which is why Himeka fell in love with him in the first place. He does it only a few more times throughout the anime, but it was honestly such a nice deviation of character that I am upset it did not happen more. Or rather, I am upset he has had a lot of stressful situations with the girls and did not think to channel this source. It may have been out of character for him to rely on it through such means, but it this "form" of his was honestly so entertaining that I am sad it is spread so much throughout the anime. It would have been a hilarious running gag if it happened at least once in every other episode, if not every episode.
Oh, and a more minor one, but I actually appreciated a lot of the action that this harem has. I don't mean fighting anymore, but sexual. Eita gets hugged quite a bit in the anime, his fake girlfriend kisses him a few times (he even does it once to her) and, overall, it helped certain scenes shine more. In a lot of anime, where romance is the target, I do not see enough action. Maybe I suppose it's because I understand Japan is far more serious about stuff like this, with hugs and kisses conveying far more serious connections, but that's perhaps why they felt so special this time around. Masuzu obvious has the most action since she is pretending to date him, but Chiwa hugs him a good amount of times and even kisses him once, so look forward to that if you came down here with the intention of reading spoilers beforehand. I can assure you it's quite adorable once you get to it, but it's the last scene in the anime, so you will have to wait a while. It expresses the most clearly that she wants out of the Friend Zone. As I said before, Himeka does hug him a lot, but her youthful spirit could play a role into that as well, as I believe she does not fully understand how love works and believes you can be that affectionate all of the time, even when you're not really dating. Only about three of the girls really gave him anything more than a hug.
I gave this anime pretty harsh scores, but I'm content with them. I do believe the story suffered due to the characterizations being out of whack at times, certain abuse humor really killing the more "serious" impact those "bonding" moments could have had and, well, a lot more things. Look forward to every scene with Eita entering Chuuni Mode, every deviation that strays away from the harem formula and tuck yourself in because it is a rough ride. Oh yeah, I forgot, Masuzu has a sister. Her relevance and substance to the plot is so standard that I actually advise you watch it yourself instead of hearing it from me. I'm sure some of you, reading this after watching, thought I forgot about her. But no, she just wasn't that significant. Oh, but wait, I did say "three of the girls" earlier. Yeah, she actually does kiss him once and is the only one who wanted to make out with him in the anime too, as her character is genuinely perverted and almost worse than Masuzu.
But yeah, this one was a mouthful, but I wanted to make sure I conveyed every thought I had about Oreshura. You don't have to avoid it, because I think the unique experience is still worth it due to the fact it could vary from person to person, some might even love how it unfolds. I have at least one favorite scene from it (EP12, 4:02-4:30) that managed to make me laugh the most out of any other instance in the anime. I'm sure you will enjoy it too.
Oh, so you read all the way to the bottom, huh. Just a note of warning, I figured I'd spoil who he actually ends up with down here, since I partially cared enough to reveal it, should the viewer have any hope he ends up with one of the normal girls.
Sadly, it's the obvious one. He stays with Masuzu. I wanted Ai to end up with him.