Oreimo Series 2 Collection (Cert 15)
3 Discs (Distributor: MVM) Running time: 377 minutes approx.
The first series of the provocatively titled My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute delighted in taking us within millimetres of a potentially unsavoury relationship between brother and sister Kyosuke and Kirino Kosaka. But it stayed on the right side of the taste barrier and instead became a fun show about the otaku subculture.
Series one ended with three OVAs in which Kyosuke bring the bratty Kirino back home to Japan from America, with the only real change being that their mutual friend and fellow otaku known as Kuroneko hint that she may have fallen for Kyosuke. Being the queen bitch of tsunderes Kirino throws a huge wobbler and does her best to sabotage the relationship, setting the tone for much of the remainder of the story.
As if this was one of Kirino’s eroge games, Kyosuke has found himself heading down the harem route, something the series avoided before. Confessions of love also come from Saori, Kyosuke’s oldest friend Manami and even Ayase, Kirino’s model friend who once dumped Kirino over her eroge obsession and considers Kyosuke a dangerous pervert.
Quite why this should lead to love is anyone’s guess. Even if these advances were reciprocated the irritating black cloud that is Kirino is hovering above waiting to rain on their sunny days. One way is to have Kyosuke pose as her boyfriend for an interview with a modelling agency who want Kirino to work abroad then go on a date afterwards.
Your “this isn’t going where I think it is going” alarm bells should be ringing about now and this time they are justified. Kirino could have chosen any boy to pose as her boyfriend, since it was just a scam to serve as a reason for her to stay so we *could* be lenient that she chose Kyosuke because she trusts him to back her up. But the date afterwards? That is creepy.
Thankfully the entire season isn’t dedicated to this deeply seedy plot development – one early episode reveals the backstory of Saori the uber-nerd leader of their little otaku group, herself a little sister who was once close to her elder sibling then left behind, without the uncomfortable incestuous under (over?) tones. Elsewhere the love affair between Kyosuke and Kuroneko takes an unexpected turn.
By now the plot has descended into a rather distasteful farce with the siblings seemingly intent on screwing up their lives and of those of the people closest to them over a bizarre fetish-driven twist in their previously splintered relationship. It’s one of those occasions where the viewer is expected to find themselves wishing the characters would be more honest with each other but a simple regard for taste precludes this from happening.
What made the first series so inexplicably enjoyable despite the tawdry premise was the humour of the cast interactions and the light hearted if satirical bent it took on the way it celebrated the otaku lifestyle. The path taken to reconnect the two siblings was an often awkward one but it was one ultimately paved with good intentions.
The original author of the light novels Tsukasa Fushimi always seemed in control of the story and was wary if things were likely to veer towards the forbidden zone. Whether this change was instigated by series adaptor Hideyuki Kurata, there seems to have been a mean spirited change of heart this time around, suggesting the attitude is “Right, we’ve got you hooked now to let loose with the real story we want to tell”.
Obviously this is total cynical inference on my part but it is remarkable for a series to deliberate set out to alienate its fanbase by going in a direction that would appal and offend them, especially if said fanbase previously defended this show against any judgemental naysayers. There will be some who will be forgiving but, as the show actually goes to great lengths to point out, people just won’t be willing to accept such an outcome.
Perhaps this is being a bit over dramatic as the actual line crossing only occurs in the four OVAs after the main series ends, which concludes on a fairly civil and explanatory note as to what lead to Kirino falling out with Kyosuke in the first place. Had it ended there then fair enough but the OVAs takes us down that avenue which we had hoped had been blocked off for good.
Again, the scripting is deliberately provocative and the mask of ambiguity slips completely by the end but it offers balance in the form of dissenting voices once the relationship comes to light; Kyosuke even admits it is wrong and Kirino expresses many regrets over how much her brother has sacrificed for her but love conquers all, no matter how forbidden.
Physical interactions between the siblings are free from any graphic and explicit depiction and to some credit there is a last minute twist in an attempt to soften the blow (“justify” is inappropriate here) following the above mentioned doubts and impassioned and emotional Manami saying what every well adjusted person would be thinking about this illicit and immoral coupling.
This last minute damage limitation might prove to be sufficient salvation for some but for others it may be too late to ease the discomfort. Western sensibilities are unable to share the Japanese enthusiasm for such lascivious concepts, even in a comical setting such as this, and our inherent narrow boundaries of good taste will be fully tested here.
In the final analysis Oreimo’s second season has a few enjoyable moments but is far less credible than its predecessor, while the goodwill engendered in spite of the teased incest is jeopardised by the direction the final episodes take, which is a shame.
Other series may have been more explicit when dealing with this subject (Yosuga no Sora I’m looking at you) but after the levity of the first series, a friendly caveat emptor is warranted for Oreimo Season 2.
Japanese 2.0 w/ English Subtitles
An Adult Day For Me And Akagi
Usual Day Of The Kurusu Sisters
SD Character Preview
I Can’t Ask Mikagami For Life Counselling
Charge! Otome Road
SD Character Preview
Galge Style Movie My Little Sister Can’t Be This Eroge
SD Character Preview
Rating – ** ½
Man In Black