Mike ‘n’ Sam’s Summer Anime Funstravaganza 2: My Little Anime Can’t Be This Good!

OreImo epitomises all that is wrong with anime these days. Ha! Can you imagine if I actually thought that? Well swabl apparently does, because he believed it to be “otaku pandering [and] quasi-incestuous”. He also thought I’d hate it even more than he imagines he would hate it (having not watched it, as per the rules of this shindig). Okay, I may have assumed I would hate it too. I put off watching the show until the last possible moment, but came away from the show pleasantly surprised. Don’t get me wrong, there are major problems with the show, but my admittedly low expectations were far surpassed.

I took OreImo to be a parody and a subversion of the siscon genre of eroge rather than any serious attempt at a study of the characters involved in an incestuous relationship (see also: Koi Kaze). The popular adage of Poe’s law – that without indication of the author’s intent, it is near-impossible to distinguish between extremism and parody of extremism – does rather apply to OreImo’s depiction of Kirino (the titular little sister) in places. The very first episode has her shaking her ass in the air, there is a particularly egregious pantyshot when she is on a photoshoot, and episode four has that most ubiquitous of tropes: that of protag-kun (Kyousuke, for the record) falling on top of Kirino and getting a right eyeful (and a handful for good measure).

Too often OreImo becomes that which it strives to parody, though with the show’s second half shifting away somewhat from the siscon material towards more traditional s’life comes fewer problems of this type, if any. I have the same problem with Haiyore! Nyarlko-san on a smaller scale regarding its parody of harem romances – at this point I’d love to say that this is an endemic problem of anime parodies, but frankly I’ve watched so few that one would be pontificating from one’s posterior to claim as such. All in all these are pretty mild offences where anime is concerned, so I’m not too hung up on them, it’s just a concern of mine that the impact of the parody is reduced when tired tropes are trotted out like this.

Talking of splitting the show into halves, the first is definitely the weakest. The vast majority of the clichés the show has to offer occur here, and it’s visually uninteresting. Episode two in particular was plagued with shots of talking heads as the baton of dialogue was passed repeatedly between Kyousuke and Kirino. The second half of the show was largely cliché-free, perhaps as a result of lessening the parody elements of the story or perhaps because the production team was really getting into its stride, and more of an effort was clearly made in the show’s visual presentation. Take episode ten, for instance – Kyousuke and Ayase meet in the park, and Ayase is offended by something he says. The shot of her expressing her displeasure is a close-up of her face, tilted such that she appears to be looking down upon Kyousuke (and by extension the viewer) despite her seated position. The impression is that her face is right in front of yours, invading your personal space and making you feel uncomfortable. It’s simple yet effective – Hyouka uses this technique extensively with Chitanda and her curiosity to great success.

OreImo is a surprising series. Or at least it was for me with my rock-bottom expectations (I had anticipated ONII-CHAN NO BAKA and all that, which did crop up but not to the extent where one might roll one’s eyes at it). At first I didn’t like it, but not for the reasons I expected, and then I came to like it a fair amount, which was frankly more surprising. It can be a very good show when it wants to be, but a weak first half with a tendency for exploitation over parody limits enjoyment somewhat.

For swabl’s next anime review, I rolled a 3, which by the rules is a show I haven’t seen but I think he might enjoy. Lucky him! So I have chosen Spice and Wolf!

Spice and Wolf