「妹(あたし)が兄(あいつ)に恋なんてするわけない」 (Imouto (atashi) ga ani (aitsu) ni koi nante suru wake nai)
“Little Sisters Can’t Fall in Love With Their Older Brothers!”
So the final episode of this “season” (though not really) is all flashbacks. While I felt that the ending to the first season’s TV run was a bit unnecessary since it had to be immediately overwritten by the true route, this was the very definition of unsatisfying. They made no attempt whatsoever to give us anything like an ending. “You all know the special episodes are coming, so we’re not even going to try,” said A-1 Pictures. “Also, we kicked your puppy. It was an accident though. Sorry!” What a dick move.
But okay, I’ll actually talk about the episode we got. Long story short: Kirino has always loved her onii-chan. Please, try to contain your surprise. I know no one saw that coming. (That was a lie.)
I’m sure some of you will say that young Kyousuke was being mean to Kirino, but please reconsider. (You can think of this as my life counseling to you. Just don’t wake me up with a slap.) Kyousuke was actually being very patient and kind to Kirino, who was being a bit of a clingy brat. Not that I fault her for that – she’s really young, and Kyousuke is growing up ahead of her, so she doesn’t understand that he needs some space any more than Kyousuke can adequately explain that to her.
Actually, let me put it this way: when I was younger, my aniki kicked my ass for far less than any of that. Sure, otoutos don’t get as much latitude as imoutos do, but the fact remains – Kyousuke was pretty nice. Most of the time. They are siblings, after all.
It’s interesting to consider how much of the younger Kyousuke we saw actually existed, and how much of it is filtered through Kirino’s memories. Manami’s reply would seem to indicate that Kirino’s memories are more rose-colored than not. I actually like this. It gives a reason for Kirino’s frustration, while also excusing Kyousuke’s “change” – in that he didn’t really change at all. Not that getting a little lazier is uncommon as you get older. I used to play all sorts of sports as a little kid, and then did shit all during high school. People change. Also, effort is hard. Easier to just lay around watching anime, imo.
Bonus points: I cannot state how much I enjoyed Manami shutting Kirino down, even if it engendered her eternal hatred. Hilarious!
Once again, absolutely no one should be surprised that Kirino got into eroge because she longed for a world where her onii-chan loves her. Least surprising revelation since “Kirino loves her onii-chan” (there have been a lot of humdingers this episode, clearly). Really not much to be said here, save to repeat that otaku Kirino is the best Kirino. Taketatsu Ayana deserves a medal for her otaku mode…is what I would say, but from what I hear she actually plays dating sims. So maybe that’s just how she is? We can only hope.
So the episode ends where the series started. We haveall , quite literally, seen all of this before. Which brings me back to my original point – is it really okay for this to have been the last episode!? I guess it’s nice that they didn’t make something up that they’ll immediately have to overwrite, I just wish they could have left us at a better stopping point. Limits of the source material, I know, I know, I’ll drop it. In the final, final accounting this won’t even be considered the end, so I guess it’s okay. I’ll just be quietly annoyed for now, thank you very much.
Final Impressions (Stilts version)
Before he wandered off on his three week shark hunting expedition, Zanibas left me with some final impressions for this post. Well, as final as they can be without having seen this episode, and without this being anything like a stopping point anyway. He’ll be back in time to cover the specials though, so do not fear! That’s why I’m going to keep my own final impressions short, and then hand it over to him.
I’ve never been quite sure what the allure of this series is. It doesn’t seem to be anything particularly special when you think about it, save for perhaps the fact that Kirino is one of the most hilarious otaku ever. Is it just the siscon vibe + Kirino being all gaga for imoutos? Who knows. I will say this though: this is a show, more so than many others, where everything depends on how it ends. They’ve fairly well backed themselves into the corner of the Kirino End – though I’ll laugh my ass off if they go surprise! Manami End! – but if it’s not done properly it will flop. Of course, to some people nuking the Kuroneko and Ayase Ends already qualifies this as a flop. I won’t argue with that. Kuronekooo!!
To me, it all comes down to whether they have the balls to go for the Kirino End, and if they do, if they pull out the old “Oh, they’re not actually blood related after all” excuse. Mind you, blood related siblings actually being in love is more than a little squicky when you actually consider it, but that’s how its been built up all along, so if they do the use the cheap dodge to make it all “okay”, that will be very disappointing. Stick to your guns! Doing that would be like suddenly revealing that Romeo and Juliet aren’t from feuding families, and in fact it was all a dream all along. Ugh.
Okay, enough idle speculation from me. I’ll hand it over to Zanibas. Take it away, Zani!
Final Impressions (Zanibas version)
Ah, this show. Some claim it is a terrible misrepresentation of otaku culture–they say it is a wish fulfillment fantasy where otaku are cool and beautiful and go for the average guy with passion. Some claim it is a great slow that reflects on the dynamics of sibling-ship and the hardships that come along with rekindling bonds. Some just want to cheer for their favorite character and listen to the newest ClariS opening. This show has gathered quite a diverse and sometimes divisive crowd over the years, and now to think it’s all coming to an end…wow.
For the sake of wanting to form a more complete impression of the series, I will hold off my actual final impressions until the end of the actual series, but I do have some thoughts I’d like to put out there right now.
First off, this second season definitely shifted the focus of this show. Whereas the first season focused both on otaku culture and sibling relationships, the second season placed the former on the backburner for the latter to blossom, as well as to make room for a more romance-oriented approach. There still are jokes about otaku out there, but no episode came close to any of the light-hearted commentary of the first season–the anime production arc is the first to pop out in my mind. Now, this of course isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I can feel that it definitely put some people off. Oreimo sure is no Genshiken, but it definitely did touch on common issues that its audience could relate to. Perhaps those traits are what skyrocketed Oreimo’s popularity–a combination of otaku culture intertwined with cute characters. When the balance tipped towards focusing on the cute characters though, Oreimo may have lost it’s edge over most romantic comedies, becoming more of a struggling love harem than a statement on the industry.
Now, I myself being a romantic comedy fan, I didn’t mind the shift as much as others, but I did have my own gripes about the romance. The point where this was particularly obvious was the rushing of Kyousuke’s harem party and Ayase’s confession (admittedly the light novel does this much better), where it was clear that the production was being rushed out the door to keep within a one-cour format. What was thought to be friendship turned out to be outright flirting and romance, and what was two lovers turned out to be…too many.
Despite that though, Oreimo has still managed to be an enjoyable watch for me the entire season. Though I did have my irritations with Kirino earlier, despite the Kirino fan I am, watching her grow at long last and stay that way has been delightful. It’s been a pleasure to see Saori and Kuroneko develop their characters and backstory in interesting ways, as well as see Ayase show off her hilarious yandere antics. But alas, will all be alright in the last few episodes? Who will eventually win, if anyone? The second season has been leading up to the conclusion that everyone still watching is waiting for, though some light novel readers seem to have been informed ahead of time. Whatever the ending happens to be though, I hope that for the love of everything it’s not rushed, and that no matter who wins, it’ll be an emotional moment fitting to close this series off. It pains me to think that I can’t see episode twelve for three weeks, but I hope it provides a fitting cliffhanger that won’t make all of us rage too much. (Stilts sez: Only a little bit. Nothing like the Kuroneko or Ayase episodes, at least.)
Until the final episodes come out, this is goodbye for now, and thank you dear reader for following along so far! Hopefully we can survive to see the last few episodes when they come out later this year. ^_^
For more from yours truly, check out my blog about writing, life, and making great art at stiltsoutloud.com.