Final reflections on OreImou: CAN she be this cute?

Like other fans, OreImou has given me many topics to ponder over the course of its twelve episodes. In a previous post, I discussed six of these topics from the first five episodes. In this post, I’ll wrap things up with my thoughts until episode twelve…

- A normal relationship

Episode 6 was the only episode not focused on Kirino or otaku activities. It was a refreshing episode not only because it gave character development to Manami, who was otherwise neglected for the rest of the series, but because it also showed another side of Kyousuke. All we see of his character in other episodes is how he relates to Kirino and the otaku world, so it was nice to see what he’s like in a more normal relationship and setting. This episode leaves the impression that even though Kyousuke has a strange relationship with his sister and encourages her in her questionable hobby, he can still have a normal life and at least one normal relationship. Not all those involved in what society deems “weird” hobbies necessarily have to be weird in all that they do.

Similarly, I also liked how we’re given a peek into Kuroneko’s everyday life. She and Saori really need their own starring episodes.

- Compromising art for the sake of marketability

Episodes 7 and 8 deal with something I’m sure many of us have dreamed of – creating our own media work and having it made into an anime. Kirino soon realizes that what’s put into anime has a lot more restrictions than what’s put into a novel. She let her “imouto” fetish run wild in her novel, but what’s marketed on public TV is a different story compared to what’s marked inside the pages of a book. Kirino wanted her anime to convey the exact same unrestricted, and unfortunately limited, passion that her novel had. She didn’t realize that passion alone is not what the anime industry runs on. Not that she shouldn’t have written what she wanted to, but she made the mistake of not making her novel a slightly more universal work better suited for an anime release.

While she’s one of the lucky ones who has someone like Kyousuke to help convince the anime staff not to change her work as much as they had planned, I would think most manga and light novel creators either make as niche a story as they want while accepting the fact that their original work will be changed in anime form, or they create the original work with this idea already in mind, and make the compromises as they go along before the anime staff do.

- The ultimate fangasm

A “fangasm” is a term that refers to reactions of utter pleasure that a fan displays when confronted with something from that fandom. It could range from squeals of ecstasy to extensively written prose praising whatever they’re a fan of. I really liked the fact that Kirino’s fangasm over her new erogame in episode 9 was shown in all its “rawness.” She just cast all shame aside and let her passion loose. I couldn’t help but think to myself, “How many of my fellow anime fans fangasm that way when they know no one’s watching?” I also wonder if the creators purposely emphasized Kirino’s fangasm in this episode not only to reveal more of her character, but also as a shout-out to otaku who fangasm in a similar way, kind of like saying “See? Look how she fangams? So you shouldn’t feel bad about it.”

The impression I got from this episode is that it’s okay to fangasm, in the right time and place of course. (Doing it so loudly that it disturbs your brother in the next room, however, probably isn’t the right time!)

- “Honne” and “tatemae”

“Honne” and “tatemae” are Japanese words that refer to the cultural attribute of a person having two sides – the public “facade” they show to society (their “tatemae”) and their true self with their true feelings that they can’t always express publicly (their “honne”). Kirino’s friend Kanako became a rather exaggerated example of this in episode 10, acting all cheerful and cutesy in front of her otaku fans and showing her true disgust at them when she’s not on stage.

Similar “bipolar” characters that come to mind are Akira from Lucky Star and Lunar from Seto no Hanayome. Seeing it with fictional characters is one thing, but I can’t help but wonder how many real Japanese idols or TV personalities are like this too – acting happy, charming, and full of smiles in front of their public before turning into touchy, disgusted pills when the camera goes away.

Final reflection: Can my little sister possibly be this cute?

All throughout these twelve episodes of OreImou, I’ve wanted to like Kirino. I tend to like the “strange girls” in all of the anime that follow the “normal guy meets strange girl” scenario. I like her character design and the solid, if not bizarre, relationship she has with Kyousuke is unique. But as I’m sure many will agree, she’s just too much “tsun” and not enough “dere.” Her completely unfounded abuse of him – verbal and physical – might be excusable if he wasn’t particularly nice to her. But the guy has literally been a saint to her, sacrificing his own time and comfort again and again for her and her hobby, without asking anything in return. In fact, in spite of the unprovoked abuse he gets for his trouble. Yes, a few times she managed to squeeze out a little bit of gratitude, but compared to all the sacrificing he’s done and all the abuse she’s done, I find it insufficient. Not showing gratitude when someone is extremely generous to you is one thing, but not showing gratitude and being abusive to this person is just horrible.

I really thought Kirino was finally coming around in episode 11. After the downright mean thing she did to Kyousuke when Manami came over, she finally showed some real gratitude and gave a sincere apology at the maid party. For once I finally found her “kawaii” and on the road to becoming likable.

But by the middle of episode 12, the “new” Kirino was starting to seem forced. I could tell she was just forcing herself to act better out of fleeting feelings of guilt, and would revert back to her old self as soon as the right provocation came. And come it did…

So what is the deal with Kirino’s treatment of Kyousuke? Since I’m an only child from a very small family, I don’t know how much normalcy is in their relationship. But I’m pretty sure such unprovoked abuse by one sibling to the other who does nothing but selfless acts for her, is not normal. I’m no psychiatrist, so all I can come up with is that there are certain people we just love so much and who know us so well, that we get into a habit of using them to release our negative feelings because we know that no matter what we do to them, they’ll always love and forgive us. Even if we know our treatment of them is wrong, and we express guilt and gratitude from time to time, the unexplainable satisfaction we get from the mistreatment takes precedence even if we start to hate ourself for being this way (which makes us even angrier and more prone to abuse). Kirino doesn’t act like a sociopath with anyone else besides Kyousuke. Thus, it seems like their relationship is a prime example of this.

The reason I feel Kyousuke does all this for her despite her bitchy treatment is because, besides just being an overall caring guy with a sense of duty as a brother, he likes the fact that he’s finally able to even have a relationship with his sister, as abnormal as it is, after years of them hardly exchanging words. I think he also senses Kirino’s true feelings towards him over all the “tsun” and lives for the moment, like in episode 11, when she finally gives love back to him. To me, the most memorable scene that truly conveys their relationship is when, in the midst of their argument in episode 12, just as Kirino is reverting back to her old abusive self and Kyousuke is finally starting to lose his patience with her, Kirino’s laptop is knocked over and the imouto on her erogame is accidentally commanded to say out loud…exactly what Kirino is feeling towards her “o-nii-chan.” Imouto erogames, the very thing that brought them together in the beginning, once again brings them together in the end.

I know there’s more material for OreImou in the light novels, but the final TV episode ends with a sense that all of Kyousuke’s generosity didn’t change Kirino’s attitude. After consistently not abusing him for a short period of time, she quickly goes back to the way she was with a vengeance, leaving poor blameless Kyousuke with a wastebasket full of bloody tissues and a face that looked like he had run into some yakuza in a dark alley the night before.

So much for Kirino turning over a new leaf, right? But as I discussed above, that’s just the nature of Kirino and Kyousuke’s relationship. Kirino’s still a kid…perhaps one day she’ll just grow out of the need to use her brother as a punching bag and be able to relate to him in a normal, non-sociopathic way. But as frustrating as it is, the two of them have an extremely interesting and memorable relationship…my little sister is cute, but she can’t possibly be.

21 Comments… read them or add your own.

  1. Doctordazza says:

    I tend to agree with you on everything written here. ‘Fangasm’ is something I’ve been known to do, only for small thing, although on Sunday, I had a major one in front of my family, blame Haruhi and her Disappearance for that.

    I really hope that the next three episodes (the OVAs) have some sort of nicer resolution for Kirino and Kyousuke, hopefully one we weren’t allowed to see on TV.

    • Yumeka says:

      I’ve had too many Haruhi fangasms to name, but Disappearance was definitely one of my most recent, and strongest, ones XD

      I have a feeling the extra OreImou episodes will be side stories rather than bring any resolution to Kirino and Kyousuke’s relationship. But like I said in the post, I would love to see episodes starring Kuroneko and/or Saori =)

  2. RP says:

    I loved Kirino at first, but like a lot of people I started to turn sour on her as I felt they really amped up not just her tsun-side, but her angry/crazy side as the show went on. I thought the verbal abuse was fine and the “kimo” taunts felt pretty realistic, but all the slapping and then punching and kicking… there comes an age where that’s just not acceptable, and she’s well past that age.

    But all in all, I thought the show was a lot of fun. I think it was witty, well written, loved the art, I can’t complain save for a few wonky episodes here and there (could’ve done without the whole manga/anime arc).

    • Yumeka says:

      Actually, I don’t think I ever liked Kirino. I was okay with her in the first couple of episodes but I also turned sour on her before too long. If her physical abuse was conveyed in a comical, “cartoonish” way, maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad. But it’s conveyed as quite real and serious, which just isn’t right for someone like her. I wonder what that stern dad of hers would have done if he only knew what was really going on with his kids (but then again, he did punch his own son so maybe that’s where she learned it from XP)

      I think Kirino is an interesting character overall, and the otaku side of her is easy to sympathize with, but she’s just not very likable. I also think that OreImou is a fun, well written show…it’s just that the main character is distasteful =P

  3. Chikorita157 says:

    While I am indifferent towards Kirino since I like tsunderes, but if she was my sister, well I will feel the opposite. The problem with her is that she is 100% tsun and 0% dere as she said while playing a Visual Novel that have a orange hair girl, which acts so familiar. It’s only with the last two episodes she shaped up… Or not really since she beat the crap out of him again, but worse. I respect Kyousuke since he had to deal with the troubles and pain he goes through.

    Nevertheless, OreImouto is still a good show since the side characters are also good. Too bad they haven’t focus that much on them. I guess we have to wait for another season, which will be way off since they are only on the 7th volume.

    • Yumeka says:

      Yeah, wasn’t it ironic that Kirino was chiding the imouto in her erogame for being all “tsun” and no “dere” when she herself is just like that? Pot calling the kettle black? Actually, I would say that throughout the twelve episodes Kirino maybe showed about 5% dere…which is really not much. And, like you said, it was pretty much cast out the window in episode 12 when she beat the crap out of Kyousuke yet again after finally starting to treat him better.

      I agree that OreImou is a good show, probably one of my favorites for this year actually. I don’t necessarily have to like the main character in order to find her entertaining XD

  4. Adam Skinner says:

    One thing of significance I think you missed in this last episode was the photo album. Kirino said:

    00:14:20 Actually, there was something embarrassing that I couldn’t show you that time.
    00:14:39 It’s embarrassing… but I’ll let you see.
    00:15:12 This album…
    00:15:15 Take a look?

    She then chickens out and tells him she doesn’t want to show it to him, clutching to to her chest. It’s only when he grabs it from her and it goes flying across the room do the tickets fall out.

    Ko-ku-ha-ku. I think Kirino was on the cusp of confessing her bro-con to her aniki. She suppresses it so thoroughly, and has for years. Treating Kyousuke like crap, ignoring him, trying to put it out of her head and keep it under control. But in her secret closet, she keeps imouto eroge and a photo album full of pictures of her brother. The day before she is going to leave for America, she brings out the photo album to show him. Ready to confess and then disappear.

    For some time she’s been flirting with danger: getting closer to her brother, closing the gap, and feeding her feelings for him. Remember when she was doing “research” and had him get her that jewelery? Her jealous behaviour when he’s around other girls (even Minami)? And the telling shower she takes right before playing her new eroge (sure, it’s for the love of little sisters…).

    I think we’ve got a strong case for Kirino’s bro-con, and that album is evidence of it. Pictures of him to look at and be with even as she puts a wall between herself and him for the sake of keeping these feelings in check. Kyousuke’s probably always been a great older brother. There was probably a time when they were younger when he did something really great for her, she fell in love with him, and started to ignore his presence.

    • Yumeka says:

      That’s a very interesting interpretation. I did remember the photo album, but was it actually shown to have pictures of Kyousuke in it? (all I remember is the photo of young Kirino and the plane ticket falling out). I purposely didn’t bring up Kirino’s bro-con in the post because I’m not sure whether I support that view of their relationship or not. I’m open to either interpretation, and all the evidence you’ve mentioned makes sense.

      I wonder what Kirino and Kyousuke’s relationship was like in the beginning and whether it really was an act of kindness on Kyousuke’s part that forced Kirino to distance herself from him because she couldn’t understand her feelings.

  5. Liza says:

    Overall I thought this series was a really good portrayal of otaku life. The plotlines were good and I thought that they could happen to someone(maybe not the making into anime part but overall.). One of the biggest problems I had with this show, was Kirino. The way I view her is a selfish brat that doesn’t think of anyone but herself. It would have helped my view of her if she got better as the series progressed but she didn’t. She was an annoying person all the way through. I even had moments where I wanted to drop the show because of her or write fanfiction where she gets hit by a bus(or something) and dies. However I did make it through to the end and even though Kirino got a little bit better, even with the ending, I thought, did not make up for it at all. Kirino is a person I would hate if I ever met her. I think the rest of the cast were all good and I loved it when the episodes did not focus on Kirino at all.

    As someone with younger siblings(two sisters), even I can say that Kirino’s personality around her brother is very…strange. I fight a lot with my youngest sibling and sometimes we do slap each other and stuff but we also have moments where we are nice and happy with each other. I don’t get that from Kirino’s and Kyousuke’s relationship. I don’t know what to make of her but I think she is very ungrateful to what her brother has been doing for her.

    Overall, I think the concept of it was an interesting one, it was just the main character that made me want to chuck my laptop. I’m also quite happy that the show didn’t go for the incest route(although I thought it would at the last episode) since many shows involving brother and sister tend to do that. If a season 2 is released though, I wonder if I can sit through another round of Kirino…

    • Yumeka says:

      Kirino is a person I would hate if I ever met her.

      What I find interesting is that Kirino really only acts like an abusive brat with Kyousuke. She seems normal with everyone else…a little haughty maybe, but nothing outrageous. If I was one of the girls at the meet up she went to in episode 2, I’m sure she would act like a decent fellow fan if I started talking to her. Like I said in the post, I feel like Kyousuke is that “certain person” she can project all her negativity on because she knows he’ll still love her. Even though I don’t have any, I know it’s normal for siblings to fight, but for one to totally abuse another who’s so good to them isn’t right.

      Heh, I don’t think I dislike Kirino as much as you do, so I would love to see more OreImou anime, Kirino and all XD

  6. f0calizer says:

    If one were to consider Kirino a real person, then yes, there are actually people in this world who would behave like she does and psychologically and physically abuse those closest to them because (they believe) it is how they express their affection and love. And yes, as one of your earlier commenters pointed out, it is possible that a real-life Kirino would have a brother complex, which compounds her own emotional problems. Good thing she decided not to go to the USA — she would have been an emotional wreck within 6 months.

    But stepping away from real life, all the displeasure and disgust I’ve seen in relation to Kirino in various reviews around the blogosphere (not counting those that simply dismiss the series as fan-pandering loli-siscon-etc.) means that the show’s portrayal of Kirino actually fulfilled one of its basic premises. The title of the series is, after all, the ironic and exasperated “My Little Sister Can’t Possibly Be This Cute!” — and Kirino, despite her appearance as a model student and a popular, attractive teenager, *can’t* be considered “cute” in a wholeheartedly adorable way. Like most tsundere characters, Kirino is meant to raise our hackles most of the time, only to melt our hearts with fleeting moments of sweetness. I did enjoy and empathize with her fangasms, since I sometimes do that too (without the odd squeals).

    Actually, I feel that the star of the show is Kyosuke and the innovative and longsuffering ways he handles not only a completely new aspect of his sister but also a completely new world he’s thrust into (anime fandom, erogames, Kuroneko & Saori, etc.). That’s why I felt the episode with Manami and her family was so important — as you said — to establish that he has a life outside of the craziness his sister puts him through. Leaving all the “fan-pandering” moe-ness, etc. aside, the whole show revolves around a relatively normal guy who doesn’t want to write off his sister as some anime nerd and gradually finds himself drawn into her world that he finds interesting and exciting, but which he never will love as wholeheartedly as his sister or her friends. All in all, I wish there had been more screentime for Saori, Kuroneko, and Manami too, but I’m not complaining.

    • Yumeka says:

      That’s a great view of Kirino, and of OreImou in general. She’s a perfect example of the saying “You always hurt the one you love.”

      Besides having way too much “tsun” and not enough “dere,” I think another thing about Kirino that turns people off is that her character development seems inconsistent. Whenever we think she’s starting to show her “dere” side, she backtracks to her abusive side at the drop of a hat. How she acts in episodes 11 and 12 are a good example of this. Yes, part of the appeal comes from the anticipation of those moments of “dere,” but it’s also frustrating when you know that it’s not building up to any growth for her character (she’s no Taiga).

      I agree with you about Kyousuke. In a way the scenario is kind of like Haruhi – Kirino and Haruhi may be the stars of their respective series, but Kyousuke and Kyon are the ones who hold their entire worlds together =)

  7. ~xxx says:

    first I liked Kirino…
    But as the show progresses I realized that she was way funny that she squeals at her fantasies and to the point it’s like nightmare…

    But I was redeemed when Manami showed and take the level somewhere else and change the story a bit.

    Kuroneko is now my fave in the show for honestly… she is a true friend.

    Well, I still can’t watch the 12th because of vacation… I’ll try to watch the other side of the story.

    • Yumeka says:

      Yeah, the episode with Manami was a good reminder that there’s more to OreImou than just the bro-con and otaku sides of it. And I also agree that Kuroneko’s friendship with Kirino is a prime example of “opposites attract.”

  8. Laris Karin says:

    Hum…I like your site

  9. Reiko says:

    I must say that there are TONS of Kirino fans out there, and I just don’t get what so great about her. Your post said everything perfectly, she’s abusive towards the person who sacrificed so much for her and is WAY too tsun tsun. I think I only counted two dere dere moments for her in the entire series! D:

    I think because of her, I gave this anime a lower score than I was going too…

    Well anyways, to wrap the whole series up, I wish as well that Kuroneko and Soari got their own episodes, as well as Manami with some more involvement in the series. I enjoyed all of the other characters so much and wish that they were focused on little more! :D

    • Yumeka says:

      Like I said, 5% dere really isn’t enough XP

      But since I found her an interesting and entertaining character, even if not a likable character, my feelings towards her didn’t affect my scoring of the show at all (I don’t think…)

      And yes, more Kuroneko and Saori please~

  10. Beaux says:

    I also agree with the general analysis of to much tsun and not enough dere but that was that anime. I’ve been reading the manga and even though the English translations haven’t caught up to the anime it is obvious that, as with most manga to anime adaptions, there has been a certain amount of story left out. One prime example was the situation when Kirino’s friend Ayase found out about her hobby. It was pretty obvious to me that the situation went a bit deeper on Ayase’s part that wasn’t explored in the episodes. Seemed like she had problems with dependency and some abandonment issues caused by some prior experiences. Well I digressed a bit but the reason I brought that up was to point out the possibility that a good bit of Kirino’s dere moments could have been cut for the sake of time or some other reason. I can’t be 100% sure of this until I read more of the manga but I can say at least as far as I’ve read there are defiantly parts of story left out in the anime.

    I also picked up on a hint of Kirino’s bro-con and to be honest I kinda hoped it would develop a bit more. Not just because I’m secretly a bit of an incest fan, those taboo topics are always so interesting(also a teacher x student fan), but I also hoped that it would lead to Kirino treating Kyousuke a bit better. Unfortunately is was never really explored much, they just dropped hints here and there.

    I must say though, I only really supported KyousukeXKirino because of my own interests not because I particularly liked her. I didn’t hate her either but both her and her friends(her school friends that is) kinda rubbed me the wrong way. They all had somewhat of a stuck-up attitude in one way or another that kept me from really failing in love with them, but they also had redeeming qualities that kept me from hating them so i guess it kinda balanced out. Even though Kirino’s dere moments were few and short lived they really were cute. Saori was by far my favorite, I think it was the split personality that got me. Ojou-sama slash stereotypical otaku girl is such an interesting combination, and her personality was just lovely. Her kindness was almost on the same level that Kyousuke had towards Kirino.

  11. Kal says:

    You pretty much nailed it. Too much “tsun”, not enough “dere” is spot on. Just what she was complaining about regarding one of the eroge little sisters.

    Their relationship is exaggerated of course, but not entirely unreal. It is quite common for brothers to slash at each other (quite painfully sometimes), when backed into a situation where you do not know how to react. Although, I disliked Kirino for most of the show, her reactions are somewhat possible. She truly is grateful to her brother for all the help, and she constantly keeps coming back to him, and relying on him so much. Also, she completely trusts him enough to tell him all her secrets, and even act her real self in front of him. However, that also puts her in a difficult situation with your brother because there are less social rules concerning family relations.

    Relations between friends, teachers, co-workers, strangers, etc, they all have certain social rules. So a person like Kirino can interact with friends and react in a socially acceptable way around them. Even when her friend finds out her secret. However, those rules are a lot weaker when you deal with family. When there are no social constructs that can tell you how you should react, and you have no idea how to react, it is probably much easier to lash out, specially if there is certain bonds like family. I’m not saying it’s ok to lash at your family or anything of the sort, but it is a possible reaction. That’s my take on it anyway, and the show just exaggerates it so much more.

    Anyway, weirdest surprise of last year, an anime that I hated-liked-hated-liked all in a span of 12 episodes. Not bad actually :)

  12. Find_Vega says:

    Ahem. I had a fangasm one time while watching Kimi Kiss (not as great as its Sim and manga, but still good) in my Junior year, the peak of my otaku fanboy life. Now that I am a little tamed and had to cut back on anime, looking back on that my only regret was forgetting to lock the door and have my younger cousins record this in my gym shorts and my discolored green sweater (my Otaku sweater). I managed to stop them from posting it on youtube when I got the chance but not before they showed my parents. I can’t go to a family get together without being reminded of that.

  13. Find_Vega says:

    The ending gave me the feeling that there might be a season 2

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