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.
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.