(Ore no Imouto no Jinsei Soudan ga Kore de Owaru Wake ga Nai)
“There’s No Way My Sister’s Life Counseling Ends Here”
After the previous episode set things up for a conclusion with an improved sibling relationship, this television finale did just that with a little bit of a twist at the end. Leading up to that, it looked like we were possibly in for something more profound when Kirino started acting nicely towards Kyousuke, until the humor that this series is known for quickly took over. This means that there were no potential tearjerker moment like last time, as the writers went all out with the homo jokes to some pretty hilarious results. In doing so, it befittingly gave off the same vibe as the start of this series. All’s well that ends well… is what I would’ve liked to say, except there isn’t much indication that too much has changed over the course of the season.
In reality, some things look like they’ll never change, such as Ayase’s disgust of Kyousuke even though she’s willing to put up with him for Kirino’s sake. After episode ten, I did start opening up to her abusive tendencies, so it was nice to see her have some part in this finale. I probably laughed much more than I should have when Kyousuke’s “mata na” was met with a firm “sayonara”. Kyousuke’s reaction to her goodbye said it all.
In all honesty, I saw the last life consultation as an opportunity to really surprise us with some sort of finish, so it came as a bit of a disappointment when Kirino fumbled around with the idea of telling Kyousuke that she’d be leaving for America for track and field and instead asked him to line up at midnight to buy a bunch of new eroge for her. I realize this shows the dishonest side of Kirino and her inability to properly convey her feelings, but I’ve already had eleven episodes of that and was expecting something more. She even got down on her knees and begged him, which meant she probably could have asked Kyousuke for almost anything and he would have reluctantly agreed. There’s no way he’d be able to say no to a face like this.
And here it is, the undisputed hilarious moment of the episode courtesy of Akagi, who hasn’t even had that much screen time all series. Between having a sister into little sisters and one into yaoi, I’m starting to think that Kyousuke doesn’t have it that badly anymore. I still wouldn’t mind seeing a spin-off about Akagi though, especially considering that he’s voiced by Majima Junji who starred in Toradora. Watching Kyousuke flip out when he thought Kouhei was gay was great stuff, as was his instant turnaround once he realized that he’s found someone in the exact same situation as him. It almost made me wish this was revealed earlier so that I could have seen the two of them share in their woes of having a younger sister who’s into eroge and bosses them around. These two would’ve hit it off almost instantly, much like when they agreed to never speak of this night again.
Considering how Kirino’s departure for America came completely out of the blue, it was kind of hard to really get caught up in the emotional aspect of it. Still, the revelation did shed light on why she’s been acting so nicely to Kyousuke and how she was hoping for some sort of a reaction for him. The notebook falling over and playing out the scene that Kirino was longing for did present a very interesting predicament and one I wasn’t completely sure how Kyousuke would handle. While he ultimately chose the “arguably” respectful route of maintaining a normal sibling relationship, that scene reiterated why Kirino’s so obsessed with eroge about younger sisters to begin with. Namely, she’s been longing for Kyousuke to treat her like the player treats the girls in those game, short of the actual adult scenes. However, the fact that they’re still eroge leads to a lot of misunderstandings, giving us the awesome series that we have here.
As for the “Good End” as a whole, I’m much more content with it knowing that there’s more on the way. While Kirino did play up a sweeter side to her character, the whole studying abroad bit felt a little tacked on at the end and overshadowed what I was really curious about — the contents of the photo album. Picking up hints from the build-up, I was convinced that the even more embarrassing thing Kirino hadn’t shown Kyousuke yet would be childhood photos of them together that she cherishes. It would’ve worked much better in giving the impression that the two of them have a renewed sibling relationship and build on the thank you party last time. Saying I was disappointed when the episode ended without ever opening the photo album would be an understatement, although I did like how the eroge sequence was triggered and spoke the words that Kirino couldn’t.
I’m still a bit torn over as to whether Kyousuke should have used that as a cue to really win Kirino over, or simply retain the love-hate relationship that they currently have by telling her to go to America like he did. As someone who doesn’t particularly care for a potential incestuous ending, the former would have served admirably as a “True End” in my books. Going against that, Kyousuke’s logical decision not to completely spoil her with the reaction she was hoping for was actually nice in its own way, since it showed that they had grown closer but not that close. All I wanted was visual proof from Kirino loves her brother as much as she’s suggested (in the normal kind of way), which that photo album would’ve cemented. Because of that , this fell a bit short of being a truly good ending, but it wasn’t a terribly way of going about it even if this were the only ending.
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With the four-episode “True End” slated to be streamed at some point, it’s probably a bit premature to give some final impressions on the series, but there are still a few things that I can reflect upon in the meantime. The first of which is my surprise over how popular this series turned out to be. The reason I say that is because I watch and cover a lot of comedies that have a lot of the same appeal, yet none of them really tend to pick up the same kind of steam as this one.
While Oriemo deserves all the credit in the world for doing all the little things well and keeping everyone watching even if they found Kirino’s character hard to like, AIC adapted a very good series last fall that does the same and has a second season slated too — Nyan Koi. Kannagi would be another one that comes to mind, and comes with Hanazawa Kana in her role as Zange-chan, who isn’t quite like Kuroneko but has a similar charm to her since she’s always at odds with the female lead. If you’re okay with something that plays up the perverted humor more and is less constricted to realism (short of a middle school girl obsessed with eroge), this season’s continuation of Sora no Otoshimono also provides a similar level of enjoyment, as did Kampfer a year ago. There’s also the sleeper Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls, that deserves special praise with the way it combines high school comedy in a fictional feudal future and makes it work really well with a plot that progresses steadily along. Looking back, I enjoyed this series just as much as the next person, but I also happened to enjoy the aforementioned ones just as much. In fact, I was completely sold on this premise back in Fall 2010 Preview because I was anticipating something similar and that’s exactly what I ended up getting.
Until I figure otherwise, I’m almost inclined to believe that the selling power of a bratty, unappreciative 14 year-old little sister is more “fearsome” than it appears. While I like Kyousuke’s character, he doesn’t fall far from the tree of weak male leads who only show a moment or two of assertiveness over the entire course of a series, which seems to be a common complaint of a lot of anime viewer these days. As such, I’m curious as to whether or not a lot of the actual interest stems from viewers who have a younger sister and can relate to Kyousuke in some way, even if it’s not within the realm of a fashion model sister who’s into eroge. Quite frankly, I have a bit of a hard time believing that Kirino’s 110% “tsun” side portrayed by Taketatsu Ayana was the highlight of this series, seeing as she provided the same thing in MM this very season with a lot more of the “dere” side. Granted, that series’ premise is completely different with a masochistic male lead, but it does seem to suggest that it’s the complete, little sister package that gave this one its edge. Support characters like Kuroneko, Saori, Ayase, Kanako, and of course Manami really brought everything together and provided several options for other characters to like if Kirino just didn’t do it for you.
As usual, AIC’s animation continues to impress as they and all their subdivisions are one of my favorite studios since last year, and ClariS “irony” theme was one of the catchiest opening themes this year, earning it a spot on my shortlist for favorite song of the year. Is the series worthy of claiming tops of the year? It’s hard to say with some of the competition out there this past year, but it sure makes a case for itself as far as comedies go. It’s definitely a step in the right direction when something of this genre can contend with the more plot-heavy series that most people tend to consider first.