Sep 3, 2012

Anime Review: Ore no Imōto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai

Kirino smiling and leaning forward with one hand on hip while her brother Kyosuke frowns arms crossed a ways behind herAs far as pitches go, "guy finds out his younger sister is secretly an eroge otaku" is certainly one that piqued my initial interest. It's obvious wish-fulfillment to the target audience, but the show plays around with homages and parodies to other well-known anime franchises and styles frequently enough that the blatant pandering is actually part of its appeal. It thankfully always keeps winking at the viewer, as if to say it knows very well what it's doing, thank you.

The title translates to My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute. Kyosuke’s sister, Kirino, is to him an obnoxious and a bit stuck-up girl who largely acts cold and hostile to him (yep, she’s your typical tsundere). She is fairly popular at school, though, and even works on the side as a model due to her good looks, and thus a lot of her friends are in the modeling biz, too.

One day, however, he finds a DVD case on the floor of a magical girl anime (a fictional series that becomes a sort of show-within-the show later, actually). He’s surprised to find it since he doesn’t know of anyone in the house that watches anything like it. He’s even more surprised when inside the case is not the actual show on the cover but an adult anime game. And so begins the changes as the two grow a bit closer, with him as her support, grudgingly at first and under threats.

The male lead is refreshingly likable, suffering neither from being whiny nor is he aggravatingly cocky-as-all-hell. In fact, he reminds me a lot of Hiroyuki, the male lead in the To Heart series (one of my old favorites). Unfortunately, this is also probably one of the series' biggest weaknesses, next to the plot, which this influences. The lack of any serious flaws in Kyosuke (much like Hiroyuki) means that the story kind of just ends up following him around as he does things for his sister and interacts with her new weird geek friends. He's often helpful, thoughtful, usually swallows his pride and does what's necessary, and generally is a good guy. This means he never really makes you want to rip your hair out in frustration, and the series generally steers clear of angst as a general rule, but it does mean that there's rarely much serious drama.

Then again, that might not be such a bad thing. As I said, the series' charm is its knowing wink at the viewer, its playfulness with the ideas of normalcy and social/self acceptance. It usually keeps things light and fun, but underneath is a nice moral of sorts on an issue that is probably all-too close to home for many in its intended audience, myself included.

A group shot of the main cast in a row

Should one be ashamed of their hobbies and likes, especially if they seem ill-fitting? Saori, an anime group president of sorts, is exactly the type everyone imagines: nice, but a bit dorky and goofy. Kuroneko (she does not reveal her real name) is the other extreme, one who role-plays a new self of sorts even in reality, dressing in lolita cosplay. Then there is Kirino, who is struggling with trying to keep her two worlds separate. It’s an interesting idea but the focus is largely on the fun antics, humor, and cuteness to dwell too long on any deeper meaning. Which is kind of a shame because other than the premise this show doesn’t ever break any new ground. Very much the usual fare you are used to, albeit a very high quality one.

The animation is amazingly fluid and consistently high quality and a joy to behold in 720p if you can. The background incidental music is appropriate and works, but like most soundtracks it's awfully forgettable. Thankfully the intro and ending songs plus several inserts are much better and usually quite good, if you like modern anime JPop fare.

Overall I enjoyed it a lot, despite its limited scope. It has so many extra little polishes that make you happy: how the intro changes slightly each episode to fit different themes, the various ending artworks and styles mimicked, jargon used, and so on. It's easy to look past the meandering semi-episodic plot and somewhat weak final episode.

I'm certainly hoping for a continuation! Update: well, look at that! They did a sequel!

This is a revised and expanded version of a review I wrote back in November of last year here.

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