Every season we seem to get that one show that has all the buzz and word of mouth about it from the anime community. This time most of that was centered on this anime, Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai. I will admit that from the first time I saw details of this show pop up I was not to thrilled with its prospects, but the hype over the show was too much to ignore and I decided to give it a go. In the end I am left wonder just what was all the fuss about?
From the start we are setup with our typical and predictable harem anime plot, a high school guy Kyousuke who is fairly nondescript and normal finds himself involved in his little sister's secret hobby, eroge games and anime. Since up till now his sister, Kirino, has basically had nothing to do with him so both her secret and her sudden willingness to open up to him is a complete surprise. Now he finds himself helping Kirino acquire new eroge, hide her hobby from her friends, help her make new friends, and I suppose repair their sibling relationship. Seriously a pair of siblings find happiness through the power of eroge! Are you kidding? Is this a PSA for the eroge industry?
Now I haven’t read any of the light novels so I can’t speak for how well this anime does as an adaptation of them. Though I can say that if this really is a good adaption then I think I will pass. It’s not that Ore Imouto is a bad anime either; it’s just really uninteresting. Watching this show wasn't a chore but I just kept wondering to myself, why isn't this any good? I can usually see why someone might like or dislike an anime more that I do but with this one I cant for the life of me understand how anyone could think this one is any good. The lack of any interesting story makes this anime completely character driven and since the characters are so awful it just feels like it doesn't get anywhere nor do you care if it does or doesn't. Elements of the plot eventually becomes so totally implausible and unrealistic that they defy belief.
Overall Ore Imouto is an idealistic view of how otaku and anime fans want to be viewed by others. It clearly panders to the otaku community and those who fancy themselves as wannabe otaku, i.e. weeaboo’s. They really aren't creepy guys who cuddle with full size oppai body pillows on the train or buy an anime special edition box because they have a pair of blue striped panties inside. They are fashion models, Buddhist monks, and super rich oujosama's! It’s not that I have anything against otaku mind you, but at the same time I don’t find the lifestyle to be particularly interesting or commendable. While I do think Ore Imouto tries to deal with some serious issues at times, Kirino's character makes it impossible to really accept them. On the plus side I will give the anime credit for not caving in completely to the fan base by drowning the show in pervy fan service.
The main issue overall with the story is there is too little of everything. There isn’t any story to speak of, though that would probably be ok if it was completely episodic, but it’s not. We start out with Kirino's hobby being laid out and the drama that unfolds as her best friend and her father find out about it. Both are coincidentally very anti-anime/eroge. Though I can’t really blame them really too much for the later, I mean she is in middle school for god's sake and watching/playing those things is technically illegal for her. Kyousuke stands up for her every time along the way. It actually sounds kind of inspiring and sweet but it isn’t (more on why later).
The romantic elements don’t work either, since we really aren’t given much about each character to think there is even a relationship developing. There is really no chemistry between any of the characters either. This is mostly due to Kyousuke's complete and utter lack of anything resembling personality. The ending is also bad, but not unexpected given the genre and this lack of chemistry.
The lead Kyousuke is without a doubt one of the most uninteresting characters I have seen in recent memory. He seems to exemplify the ordinary lifeless harem lead. It seems he has absolutely no interests of his own. A look into his room shows a barren waste that lacks even the most Spartan decor and might as well just be a room at a hotel. I think his room tells you a lot about him because like him, the only time it contains anything is when it belongs to someone else. He is like an empty glass, waiting to be filled by whomever he comes into contact with. I mean sure, he is a really nice guy. He helps his sister and her friends whenever they need him, every time! All of this without any thought or expectation of a reward. However it feels more like he does out of sheer boredom than anything else. He doesn’t seem to really care one way or the other about anyone, especially his sister. You get the feeling that he’s helping her out of an obligation as her brother. Of course why would he like, let alone love her or want to help her for any other reason? She’s nothing but a complete bitch to him anyway.
Kirino is on the surface your standard tsundere archetype. Visually she’s got everything that makes for otaku wet dreams but under the pretty exterior lays one of ugliest and most unsympathetic characters in anime. There is a really fine line to walk when doing tsundere characters. The difference "tsundere" and a "bitch" is extremely small. Kirino falls squarely on the side of the bitch. Her actions are not cute nor are they even funny. She’s conniving, mean-spirited, selfish, vain, disloyal, and wholly unlikable. Despite apparently "loving" her brother she treats him totally opposite, in true tsundere fashion but unlike most characters in this archetype she never backs down at all from this role. She uses everyone in the cast for her own selfish wants and then casts them away when she doesn’t need them anymore. Unable to even stay true to her new otaku friends she shuns them as soon as her "cool" personality and friendship with the “in crowd” is threatened. Additionally she is utterly unbelievable as a character. We are supposed to believe she is popular, athletic, a professional model, successful novelist, an imouto, AND an otaku? All before even entering high school? Right...
By the end of the anime little has changed for either Kirino or Kyousuke. They haven’t grown at all as characters or as people. Kyousuke remains an emotionless robotic proxy with no will or dreams of his own and still unable to see all the girls throwing themselves at his corpse of a personality. If Kirino had become better at expressing her love for her brother and her friends or even learned to embrace her hobby openly without care as to what other people thought, it might have made her character easier to take.
With lead characters this bad it really makes the supporting characters seem even worse by comparison, or better depending on who you’re talking about. The downside is everyone with the exception of Kuroneko and to a lesser degree Manami. Manami is Kyousuke's childhood friend and I suppose defacto girlfriend was a likable character who I actually felt pity for than anything else. She is poorly developed and mostly ignored by the plot but from a cast that is so poorly conceived she stands as a lone bright spot. In a better cast and with better leads she is probably lost as just an also-ran character.
Kuroneko on the other hand is different. She is actually a really interesting and well implemented character. As one of Kirino's new otaku friends she is basically everything that Kirino is not. She is true to herself and loyal to her friends. She is responsible and trustworthy and has her priorities in line. In one episode that shows her taking care of her little sister you can see from her actions that she honestly loves her sibling as she plays with her, puts up with her favorite anime, which she despises but she does so anyway. Although she is well aware that people and even her family thinks she is weird and abnormal, she doesn’t care and does as she likes. Because it gives her enjoyment. In my opinion Kirino doesn’t deserve her as a friend. Of all the people in this cast the only one I would want to hang out with willingly and be friends with is her.
Ore Imouto's visual aspects are top notch however. The character designs are pleasing to the eye and well proportioned. The settings and backgrounds are well done though a bit bland in some cases. Kirino's room is probably the most interesting with the most amount of things lying about. Some of the visual parodies and references to other anime and games I found were pretty amusing. Particularly those relating to Fate/Stay Night which appeared several times. I did enjoy the lack of tits and ass from the production and that went a long way towards making the show far less perverse as I had initially assumed it would be.
The seiyuu cast is also strong, featuring Ayana Takeatsu fresh off her success as Azusa from K-ON in the title role. It’s too bad she wasn’t given a better character to work with, but I think she played the part as well as it could have been. Other favorites of mine such as Yukari Tamura and Saori Hayami play smaller roles but overall I found all the performances to be very good. The music is a definite strength as well; ChariS OP "irony" is one of the better anime songs of the year.
When it comes down to it Ore Imouto is the kind of disposable anime that comes along every year. While it got more than its share of hype and press it is unlikely to be remembered in the years to come. I don’t necessarily think this is a terrible show, it has aspects that I think are terrible but overall I can’t say I hated it either. It had just enough to keep my interest from week to week and little else. I suggest you ignore the hype and skip this anime. If you want to see an anime about otaku that doesn’t pander to them, watch Kuragehime instead. You can thank me later.