(Ore ga Kanojo ni Kokuhaku Nante Aru Wake ga Nai / Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii / Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai.)
“Little Sisters Can’t Fall in Love With Their Older Brothers! / My Little Sister Is This Cute / My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute.”
Wow. Just wow. Love, rejection, fighting, magically healing faces, and too many awkward moments to count. The strength of these episodes was too strong that I forced myself to go to bed so I could cool off and give a more objective presentation of this show. Of all the endings that I’ve watched, this is the show that’s elicited the strongest reaction of me from any show, regardless of how good or bad that reaction was. Let’s dive in and well…take this apart slowly.
For the sake of saving space, a hybridization of both the normal post style and the filmstrip post style has been used here. If you want to access the rest of the screenshots, the end of each episode section has a spoiler tag that contains the rest of them. Enjoy! ^_^
It’s been awhile since the previous episode of Oreimo came out, so any leftover feelings I had from the end of the season had mostly tamed themselves. Due to the massive amount of spoilers leaking through the internet though, I had some idea of what the “end” was going to be like, or rather who would “win”. With this in mind I thought I was prepared to see the hook-up, get-together, and possible time-skip of our prime couple, but I thought wrong. Oh so wrong.
But first, a look at each episode and general comments about them. The first one should be fairly obvious–that Kuroenko scene was absolutely painful to watch. Putting aside the fact that episode 14 introduced itself in a fairly random manner, and casting aside the luck that Kuroneko and Kyousuke met randomly, the scene itself was hard to bear. No matter who you support, seeing Kuroneko’s hopes and dreams rip apart by her own hands and shatter the master plan she’d cultivated for so long, that was painful. Hanazawa Kana did a wonderful yet bittersweet job expressing that in her screams and curses, in expressing the hurtful notion that being number two SUCKS. Compound that onto the fact that one of Ruri’s sisters was looking forward to seeing kind onii-chan again, and you’ve got a recipe for “my life sucks so much right now.”
Although her plans stated that she was fine with whatever Kirino and Kyousuke did together, in fact we could interpret this as another illusion that Kuroneko hopes her first love will break. Kuroneko copes with the constant disappointment she holds in her life by attributing it to the fantasy chuunibyou-like world she loses herself in, but secretly hopes that those sad illusions can be erased. Kyousuke rejected that notion entirely, instead fulfilling her fantasy and as such, hurting Gokou Ruri inside. Kuroneko provided a quick getaway to hide sadness, but undoubtedly, this was the last straw for Gokou Ruri.
This unfortunately sets a terrible tone for the rest of the episode, much less the rest of the series. We immediately switch to a Kyousuke who is obviously looking for another opportunity to grow closer to Kirino, where the tone has immediately switched from sad and serious to the show’s usual cheerful manner and wind-instrument music. It’s too quick a switch to properly appreciate Kyousuke’s efforts, because at best we see Kyousuke as bringing necessary painful news, at worst as being a total dick and creeper. After all, in these last few episodes, he really amps up the ‘I know you so well, let me show off my knowledge!’ levels, which in turn can be easily interpreted as creepy and clingy.
But hey, these are siblings who self-proclaim themselves as creepers anyways, so for Kirino, it’s uncomfortable from a girl’s standpoint, but as family, she sees the value in Kyousuke’s efforts and goes along with his proposals. The usual Oreimo ridiculousness ensues, where hotels are rented, awkward bumps into other characters ensue, and of course all the bickering in-between. This would all be alright of course, if not for the previous scene that leaves an awful taste in one’s mouth.
It is at this point though that things start accelerating quickly, to the point where it’s hard to fathom where the motivation for most of these actions came from. Why did Saori, her sister, and the recently-rejected Kuroneko come to boom Kyousuke’s confessions to the entire city (something that apparently was overlooked by Policeman, Father Kousaka). Why did Kuroneko have a microphone on her person to record all this? Why does Kyousuke have to be so loud in proclaiming his love to Kirino, and why so soon with two more episodes to go?
Finally we do get the confession, and it’s all set right? We’ll see Kirino and Kyousuke happy together, and while she may be resistant to having such a relationship, they can take things slow and be happy. But no, no no, Kyousuke skips ALL of that and immediately goes for the kill–a marriage proposal, which Kirino accepts surprisingly easily, despite calling her brother crazy beforehand.
With that, the episode ends, and an awkwardly inappropriate picture of Kuroneko displays itself during the ED. Wow. What a way to start the beginning of the end, because at this point, what’s going to happen? I knew something along these lines would happen, but marriage? Rejection of Kuroneko with an awful backfire? At this point, I couldn’t possibly believe there were more episodes to come, but there were, and the finale was only a third of the way done.
Enter episode 15 and the awkwardness just doesn’t stop. It wasn’t the wincest, trust me–I’ve seen titles like Yosuga no Sora and countless imouto shows where the wincest didn’t bother me, but something about Oreimo made this entire proceeding hard to digest. It wasn’t a love hotel this time, but proceeding to play eroge even in a serious situation as a marriage proposal, it all rings to a very forced rhythm. I get that Kyousuke and Kirino are two people united by the power of eroge, but the entire scene where visual novels continued to guide their way of thinking was so out of this world of logical thinking–it was a surreal scene that subsequently was hard to relate to.
Let’s not forget about our lovely idol though, Kanako of the small ships. When Kyousuke entered that stage and saw Kanako singing her heart out…I immediately knew what was going to happen, and immediately after that questioned the necessity of this scene, or even Kanako’s feelings in general. It was grating to watch Kyousuke have to reject Kanako-Meruru’s dramatic proposal, though I suspect that’s the point–Kyousuke must suffer to prove his love for his little sister, and as such must reject every girl that’s ever loved him throughout this series. I understand Ayase, Kuroneko, and Manami of course, but isn’t three rejections enough? This part, while still painful, felt awfully tacked on and whatever actual purpose the confession had was lost. Actually, I’m more bothered by the fact that the fanbase thought nothing of the confession and kept cheering after the rejection–a true parody of otaku culture would’ve had the entire audience chasing down the cruel Kyousuke for miles.
Aside from the though, episode 15 wasn’t all that bad, especially in the conclusion. Episode 14 left a bad taste in my mouth, but the end of 15 gave me hope. It rung true to a more honest and much more admirable dynamic that Kirino has fostered for Kyousuke–her efforts to become noticed by the person she’s always admired and looked up to is one that is not only easy to relate to, but also one that makes us feel good about her efforts. It allows us to see the merits that their wincest has despite the social stigmas, and why exactly Kirino tries so hard for him aside from the fact that, “he’s my brother!”
In fact, this scene would’ve been much better placed instead of the Christmas confession scene–while we do lose out on Kyousuke bending his back again in public, it allows for a much more natural and heartwarming engagement that allows us to sympathize with their bond, even with the weirdness packaged in.
Alas, such warm moments were not to last. At this point, many of us were lead to believe that we saw what was going to happen, but alas, Oreimo still had a few more twists to keep the audience surprised, for better or worse.
Finally, timeskip. It looks like Kirino and Kyousuke have kept their secret fairly under wraps, as most of the people that surround Kyousuke act blissfully unaware of the situation. It feels like a normal Oreimo episode, where everyone gives their heartfelt and honest feelings through their weird little otaku quirks, and overall everyone is cheerful of the future ahead. Moments like Sena’s hesitance and Kuroneko’s mirage self remind us of the path we’re still following, but for the most part, it’s as if the drama hadn’t occurred. This was the Oreimo that I treasured, where drama isn’t completely forced and good feelings can be felt abound.
But even that cannot last, as the so called “final boss” had to rear its head. I’ll admit, in isolation the fight scene and subsequent denouncement of incest was a breath of fresh air–I was completely caught off-guard by the amount of violence and change-of-face that Manami had at her disposal (and disappointed she didn’t turn into Pirate Eyepatch Manami), and the things she said were pretty much true. The pond of hesitant friends and socially polite people is completely drowned by the normally soft-spoken Manami, who in her last efforts to be with the person she loves, tries her best to destroy the love she sees in front of her. To her, the answer is in black and white, as she can only see pain in their future together, as the choices they make now will adversely affect them for life.
But hey, Kyousuke and Kirino have gone way too far now to back out–one must face their fate head-on and follow it through, despite the consequences…right? The power of love conquers everything, right? People hold their promises, right? Apparently the ironic questions are lost in this show though, as cheesy and irrational defense stops Manami in her tracks, destroying her decades-long hope of protecting Kyousuke from what she perceives as self-destructive behavior. That arching back cannot be broken, and apparently is the final nail in the coffin for Kirino to finally be wed to her beloved…
But it doesn’t end here, not even close. Some of us thought we had it figured out, but the insane cop-out at the end surprised us otherwise. It’s a cop-out that I hope everyone can agree leaves a terrible taste in one’s mouth, regardless of how one may interpret the results. Sure, one can make a legitimate claim that they fought hard for what they’ve loved for their entire life and now they must accept reality…but it just seems insane that “going back to being siblings” could even be remotely possible. There is no point in going back at this point–Ayase, Kuroneko, Kanako, and Manami have completely been alienated from both of them as a result of this, and no amount of maturity that the two of them supposedly developed will ever supersede those losses. Their entire life has been changed because of the rash decisions they made to involve everyone else in, where they must now face the burden of their past forever. The show doesn’t try hard enough to play on this theme though, instead attempting to find a balance between the light-hearted tongue-in-cheek attitude of old Oreimo with the actual troubles of incest. They don’t dive deep enough to explore the reactions of key players such as Ayase or the Kousaka parents, nor do they make it light-hearted enough to enjoy as a happy innocent ending. Instead, we are presented with a dramatic ending that tries too hard in too little time, following a disastrous path that is at times nigh-impossible to relate to, and worst of all pulls out at the last moment, leaving MUCH to be explained.
Due to my work on the podcast, final impressions will be put here tomorrow, but as one can tell, these last few episodes were not the most enjoyable for me to be surprised with. My final impressions will definitely be gentler on the series as a whole, but overall I still feel disappointed with what the second season delivered–a forced romantic comedy end. I can see what merits this finale delivered in terms of the strategic and strong reactions it elicited, but in terms of enjoyment, my heart cannot lie.
My main gripe with the second season of Oreimo’s second season was that it lost sight of what made the first season so glorious: a fun parody and reflection of the world of anime, otaku culture, and the industry itself. While it didn’t go through as many parody hoops as say, Genshiken, the first season employed many self-referential and cultural jokes that made its characters easy to relate to. Though their attractiveness is by far above the stereotypical average otaku, their personalities and the way they go about their hobbies rings all too much true. Not many shows have been willing to change up the OP and the ED sequences so many times, but Oreimo did it, all while self-referencing its ability to do it in the show itself to rub it in. It seemed that everyone watching had their character to relate to, even if other characters pissed the crap out of them–something that’s telling of how we perceive other groups in otaku culture. To top it all off, it included a flawed but admirable tale of a brother supporting his sister despite her flaws, exemplifying selflessness even at the cost of being labeled as spineless (though it seems he’s actually lost his spine in the second season. How else would he be able to bend his back that way? HEY YO~). Kyousuke had his motivation to help his little sister out, and Kirino had her struggles to reform the relationship that she’d lost for so many years. The romance between the two, “romance”, was still very tongue-in-cheek at this point and as such incest and the such was merely a commentary on the little sister trend that had been dominating the industry (and arguably is still) at that time. The animation was excellent, the voice actors well rehearsed, and by golly there were so many subtle details to the show that helped cement the legitimacy of the setting.
The second season still had some of these aspects, but by far nowhere sufficiently enough. The parody gave way to focusing in on the side-characters–which would’ve been good if the show wasn’t rushing to get through every single character. Unfortunately, instead of focusing best on what the core fanbase enjoyed–more references to the meta-culture–the show leaned more on developing a romantic comedy nature that only had bits and pieces of the setting involved. The show sort of preserved a balance in the earlier episodes such as with Saori’s arc, but as soon as Ayase’s arc began, the setting went out the window. Suddenly it was just a rom-com fest of girls trying to win favor with Kyousuke all at once, with characters like Kanako showing their feelings out of nowhere. Most of this would’ve been forgivable if not for the fact that the lead-in for developing most of these character’s feelings practically was non-existent in the show (light novel readers have always been outraged at Ayase’s arc being butchered), where the show even had the balls to make five-second references to them, only not to be seen again (I’m looking at you stalker). The core of the show had been cast aside, and what new course it attempted to go on was a huge mess, attempting to develop multiple paths at once.
However, not all of it was bad–some parts I genuinely enjoyed. Kuroneko’s arc was most enjoyable to watch, as the show did great justice in giving Kuroneko a balance to her colder edge with chuunibyou antics filled with affection. I never really considered myself a Kuroneko fan in the first season, but the second season proved to sway me to dual-board the Kirino and Kuroneko ships. Ruri and Kyousuke’s affection, though naive, was filled with genuine youthful love that I couldn’t help but kyah at their sweetest moments. Kirino’s development with Kyousuke also was a nice sight to see pre-finale, as her progress in showing affection to her brother and vice versa was a nice character development to witness. Although the second season didn’t hold up the OP animations up to standard with the first season, the variation of the EDs still kept true–a nice touch of constancy to the animation, which by the way was comparably good to the first.
But alas, most of the good things I named above seemed to crumble completely with the end. Any sort of character development went straight out the window as the characters all did seemingly contradictory or unjustifiably unexpected actions that only served to muddle the plot. At the end, you wonder (in a bad way from confusion) just how the characters feel about each other in the end, or even what the status is on some characters. Ayase just disappeared the entire three episodes, the mother and father had no involvement at all in a show that’s concerned with incest, and Kanako’s confession makes me shudder just thinking about it. I guess at best you could call these last three episodes a violent reaction and reversal of the stereotypical rom com conclusion, where the girls are often left in limbo as to whether the main character digs them–but that’s a stretch on my part. It seems more like lazy character and plot advancement than any sort of literary trick given what the show pulled off. So many loose ends are never tied up and even more needless plots are advanced hastily, leaving a bad taste in your mouth no matter who you were rooting for.
Thus, I have to say that this second season has been a flop as a whole, though not without its good parts in the middle. I, for one, will be washing the bad taste that this finale left, and will proceed to see how the PSP visual novel endings conclude–to be able to choose my own ending is a blessing that this franchise has given us, even if the anime failed its ending for the majority of us. Go forth and find the good end you were looking for, because man, it sure isn’t here.
Despite this whole fiasco, I did enjoy blogging the show itself and having the honor of using the filmstrip format to achieve those means. Though much more time-consuming, it was a treat making those description texts for you guys and writing about this show when it excelled. Of all the shows I’ve watched, perhaps this show has been the one to elicit the strongest reaction from me, mainly because I was one of many who was trapped into supporting one camp, only to see that no camps survived in the end. It’s been a pleasure sharing in rage and happiness about this show with you guys, and I appreciate all the comments you’ve all left, no matter how controversial they may have been. Thanks for everything, and thank you for reading my thoughts on one of my favorite (first season) shows. Thank you dear reader, until next time ^_^.