There’s a certain category of anime, that I call Better Than It Has Any Right To Be. Usually, they deal with some… kinda dodgy themes or topics (or are at least very heavy on the fanservice), and often tend towards being guilty pleasures. One such show is Oreimo; short for Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai. Translated: My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute.
Despite the title, it’s not actually about a guy trying to get it on with a close blood relative. (I do have some standards in what I watch.) But it is about a guy who has an… unusual relationship with his little sister.
Kousaka Kyousuke is an ordinary high school boy, and happy about the ordinary part. He and his little sister, Kirino, used to be pretty close, but had a falling out and haven’t really spoken to each other in a few years. Despite living in the same house. But then one day Kyousuke discovers that Kirino is secretly a big fan of anime. And porn games. Little sister-themed porn games. Though despite that, it’s still pretty clear that Kirino doesn’t harbour any desires for an improper relationship with a close blood relative either.
So anyway, after having a talk with Kirino, Kyousuke decides to help her keep the secret (particularly from their strict father) and also helps her make some otaku friends so she has someone she can talk to about her hobbies. Now there’s two ways a keep-the-secret setup like this can go in fiction; going to ever more extreme and unlikely lengths to keep the secret, or the cat being let out of the bag relatively soon and sorting things out so it’s okay anyway. Fortunately Oreimo goes with the latter; the former tends to get pretty tedious after a while.
And of course it’s the strict father that finds out. It’s a minor miracle that the sorting it out part worked – Kirino got to keep all the anime and games, and in the process Kyousuke had to imply that he was going into his sister’s room to use her computer to play games about screwing little sisters. Minor miracle that Kyousuke didn’t get his arse kicked out in the street, for that matter.
From there on, the show’s closer to a slice-of-life than anything else. Kousaka family life, Kyousuke’s friends, Kirino’s friends (otaku group and normal group), and the crossover between them that occurs. The real highlight of it all is the otaku group, and in particular Kirino’s vitriolic best bud Kuroneko. Who just happens to be voiced by Hanazawa Kana. (Yeah, I’m a fanboy. I wouldn’t be here talking about anime I like if I wasn’t.) In fact, later episodes of the show are more about her and Kyousuke than Kirino.
I do have something of a fondness for anime and manga about the anime and manga fandom and production, largely because they don’t tend to take themselves too seriously and poke a bit of fun at all the conventions of the medium. That, and I like fiction that gets a bit meta from time to time. Oreimo does it pretty well.
Which isn’t to say it’s the best show ever, or a flawless masterpiece. It’s one of my guilty pleasures, but amazingly (given the title) far from the guiltiest I have. It’s just a lot of fun, with a few bits that tug the heartstrings in the right way a little.