「俺の妹のライバルが来日するわけがない」 (Ore no Imouto no Raibaru ga Rainichi suru Wake ga Nai)
“My Little Sister’s Rival Can’t Come to Japan”
Kyousuke is right: one little sister definitely is enough, especially when those two sisters are on opposite sides of the affection spectrum. Where one verbally and physically abuses Kyousuke out of jealousy and hard affection, the other glomps and attempts to kiss him instead. Enter first name Ria, last name Hagry (Kido Ibuki), with the label “cute imouto-type” written all over her. Let the polarizing opinions on dark-skinned loli-type imouto character who’s too gosh-darned perfect yet also makes trouble for Kirino begin!
Though hailing from America, Ria manages to avoid many of the stereotypes often applied to Americans in anime. Instead, she’s found herself in the stereotype-of-stereotypes: the ever-loving and energetic imouto. She loves ice cream, hates broccoli, is unaware of her three sizes (or what they are), and wants a kind older brother (apart from more medals of course). For Kirino, this is her dream made reality, and of course she takes the chance to bring such an adorable sister-type back to Japan. Ria does make many of Kirino’s wishes come true, even drawing out the protective and caring side of Kirino, but she does also cause problems for Kyousuke to witness and Kirino to well…redden about. Fanservice fans rejoice, for the aggressive Ria commits all sorts of sexual harassment for your viewing pleasure! Panty shots, naked scenes, bathtub ambushes, and even two kisses on the cheek: all of it in one episode!
Looking aside from Ria’s fanservice component, she does serve to act as a light segue back into the main plot. After all, many of us are still curious about Kirino and Kyousuke’s relationship, where both their current dynamics and past sibling love are concerned. Though Kirino definitely dishes out the pain, both verbally and physically towards Kyousuke, at this point our male protagonist barely budges and is well-prepared for such harsh treatment. However, Ria’s perceptiveness points out that no matter what the event may be, Kirino will almost react harshly towards Kyousuke first if he’s present. The quick look-back Kirino does when Ria mentions Kirino’s suggestion of taking a bath together. Those thoughtful eyes when Kirino is reminded of how she complimented her brother. Heck, even the fact that Kirino is quick to pounce and yell in public towards her brother in an eroge shop–all of it points towards Kirino’s conscious attention to Kyousuke and everything that he does. No matter what, Kirino doesn’t want her brother, above anyone else, to see her vulnerable side, and she doesn’t want to see him friendly with any other girls. On one hand she wants to keep Kyousuke’s distance away appropriate, but at the same time does not want him wandering off, as seen by her poor performance in America. It is his brotherly love and caring that inspires her to perform–something Ria recognizes and values–but at the same time is perhaps afraid to let Kyousuke inside her space too much, for fear of being hurt.
Now that Ria has gotten us back on track, we can stop playing guessing games and now finally get closer to solving the mysteries that have been haunting this show since episode one. Progression goes well, Kirino grows softer and more affectionate in her own way, and Kyousuke continues to be the great onii-chan that he’s tried hard to be throughout the series. Heck, even by the end he’s gained Ria’s affections (keep in mind she’s 12, so it’s purely platonic and innocent…I think) and learned more about what keeps Kirino alive. Though Kyousuke doesn’t want to verbally admit it, it must feel good for him to see that someone recognizes how important Kirino treasures him and how much she looks to him for support. With all that abuse, it must be hard sometimes to see just how reliant she is on his patience and how hard she tries to appreciate it.
But then that confession comes, and now…wow. After a brief moment of shock, I recollected myself and muttered, “there’s no way that this show can progress this quickly!”
If you think about it too, it’s pretty much impossible this early in the season for Kirino to ask her brother out due to love. Most likely there is someone out there that’s causing Kirino some trouble and she needs Kyousuke’s help to fool the person. After all, the preview does beg the question of the legitimacy of this request. Those of you who watched Oreshura know how this is going to pan out: Kirino will get embarrassed cause Kyousuke is following her orders too well, the conflict with the person will happen, and then Kirino will probably show some affection and reveal more about her true feelings (though still at a teasing level). While a bit predictable on what’s happening next, how it will be executed and the fact that it’s actually happening provides enough excitement for me. I’ll continue to cheer on Kyousuke for being a patient onii-chan, as well as Kirino as she continues to learn to let her fierceness down so that she can properly express the affection that we all know she has for her brother.