So dai1313’s post reminded me that I thought OreImo was a pretty interesting show. Dai1313 had to be “painfully honest” and was still “almost afraid to admit to” liking this show, and given his brief analysis its easy to see why. He more or less hit the nail on the head about what’s wrong with this show – the plot is pretty atrocious; the drama conflict buildups and resolutions were bumpy, arbitrary and mostly laughable; Kousaka Kirino is an obnoxious bitch. I’d add that Kousaka Kyousuke is a sanctimonious bastard too – the sort of complaining benevolent who actually means his complaints. So by no means is this show gonna make the pantheon of A-grade shows.
But you know, dai1313 liked it. And you know what, I liked it too. And what’s more I’m pretty sure many other people liked it while being excruciatingly aware of all the above stated flaws. What gives?
OreImo is a wrapping show, where even though the core was kind of iffily mixed and carelessly baked the icings all round were sweet enough to make a passably delectable dessert. I think the producers put their backs into this production and I think it shows. Let me just do a quick compilation here, in compliment to dai1313’s post, of the things this show got right. Hopefully this will serve to ease the minds of you folks who unwittingly enjoyed OreImo and are prey to the terrible nagging question of “why” :)
1. The wrapping
Packaging is important. Even if we do our best to judge shows based on the deeper aspects it is important. Packaging is why season one of To-Love-ru, which was a crackpot asylum of absolutely terrible anime-original storytelling, and season two of the same, which actually stayed faithful to the vastly superior source content, were almost equally bad (yeah, I think season two missed big on the packaging aspect, but that’s another story). OreImo is a looker! The characters look great, and they are rendered and animated very consistently across the entire run. They sound great too, with stellar performances by a pretty star-studded voice cast. The pacing, the BGM, the insert songs were all pretty well done, and actually it feels like the only key failing is in the storyboard team – a pretty good job all round for AIC. Even the OP was awesome in the important sense that it had all the right “feel” to it, serving as a fitting curtain-opener to the show every episode. The small episode-ly changes to OP animation sequence and the episode-ly ED’s only attest further to the efforts of the staff, especially nowadays when half the broadcasting shows are cutting corners like crazy.
I think all these contribute immensely to the underlying “feel” of the show. Like I said it shows when a studio is trying to make a good production, and all these little inklings of effort count resoundingly in the battle against your own mediocre plot.
2. Side characters and side-side characters
While the character dynamics in this show aren’t really anything to write home about, many of the side characters are awesome in and of themselves.
As dai1313 says Kuroneko is pretty awesome.
And Manami is so sweeeeeet.
Right down to Satou Satomi’s sugar-coated voice-work. It’s funny how Kyousuke goes on about how “you’re the Queen of Normal” when she’s really quite exceptional, as childhood friends tend to be. (and like all childhood friends in anime she probably has about 0.0000217% chance of making a canon pairing with her Kyou-chan. Oh wait, was that an overestimate? Oh anime why doth thou hateth the childhood friend so?) Also, I don’t know what kind of metric would classify as normal a girl who, upon simultaneously discovering her male friend’s porn stash and seeing an imouto-themed eroge on his laptop screen, puts on the sweetest smile she can muster and say “maybe I should call you onii-chan from now on?”
This girl is S-class, Kyou-chan. How you can veto her by default out of any possibility of romantic consideration when you even have a megane fetish is well beyond me.
Manami also has the coolest family members, which brings me to the side-side characters part. These are characters that are even more “side” than the side characters, like Manami’s jii-chan and his rock-kun grandson, and Kuroneko’s cute imouto who beats even Manami in sugar-coatedness. They are fantastic! And the episodes where they appear are funnily enough the high-points of the series for me, so much better than the big drama ones.
3. The tease!
I think one of the reasons I enjoyed OreImo so readily was that I started out having seen much of it as what it was. At the very beginning where some folks were actually hyping this show as an accurate depiction of sibling relationships I was already certain that this show would be stuffed with bro/sis-con overtones coming just short of anything resembling a canon pairing. Teases. What I didn’t know was that there would be so many more teases in the rest of the show! From Manami’s little offers for her Kyou-chan to sleep on her lap to Kuroneko’s stutters and flittering eyes around Kyousuke. They are teases because nothing really comes of it. And don’t tell me you didn’t get Yuri alarms from the Ayase-Kirino dynamics. Sure you get these sort of stuff in just about any harem anime, but there’s something extra about much of the teases in OreImo. Really, Kirino and Kousaka getting a hotel room? Kirino and Kuroneko drawing stories of raping each other? The kinds of overtones we get are quite the handful – incest, lolicon, yuri, yaoi. Suffice to say if anything really comes of these teases we’d get a pretty family unfriendly show. As it is though I think they do a good job of keeping the spice alive as we power through the constantly weak drama.
Oh the tease.
4. Otaku depiction
Wow, this part of the show is fun, illuminating and creepy at the same time. Ayana Taketatsu does such an amazing job depicting Kirino’s dark otaku side. How she manages to pull off such a convincing impression of a cackling, drooling kimoi otaku while consistently sounding so cute I will never know. But, this is clearly Kirino funniest and even most endearing side. “Rinko chwa~~n“.
It’s also illuminating and creepy because watching Kirino made me realize how many of those weird little funny things I’ve myself been subconsciously doing, like drawing little circlies on cheeks with the mouse pointer >.< of course Kirino's are pretty exaggerated, but hell you can get away with doing all sorts of things when you're an attractive little girl (with Ayana Taketatsu's voice). Makes me half want to put a hidden camera in my place when I'm doing my otaku stuff, replay it later, and cringe :P
There are also lots of neat stuff outside of Kirino’s person. Plenty of Akiba and cons and stage events. It’s an easy cheat, if you’re making a show for otakus, show lots of otaku stuff! I sprayed water when I first saw Kanako in her Meruru outfit. Watching her troll the poor brit girl backstage made me wonder how many of the girls at the cons I go to are really Kanakos. It’s also fun to see Kirino and Kuroneko have their Maschera vs Meruru battles – pretty good reflection of the sort of conversations I’ve seen and had in real life. I also loled hard when Kirino and Kuroneko found an XXL Mens version of Kuroneko’s outfit, and when Ayase tremblingly asked if Meruru was a kids show while weakly pointing to a bunch of fanatical grown guy-fans. Oh how terrifying the otaku world must appear to the uninitiated, which leads me nicely into the next section..
5. Non-otaku depiction.
I enjoyed the many :O faces in this show. Poor Ayase lol. And poor Kyousuke. And to some extent poor Manami. But above all else, poor Makabe-senpai.
“I’m sorry Makabe-senpai! but I couldn’t hear your polite tsukkomi as anything but being tsundere!!”