You may have wondered why I squeezed both Toonami reviews for the week into Sunday. The reason for that is that I have a new column I'm debuting tomorrow, and also that I want to review this series before I forget about it. The series I am speaking of is called Oreimo. I know what you're thinking: that's that incest anime. After all, its real title translates to My Little Sister Can't Be This Cute. And yes, that means what you think it does. However, there's a lot more to Oreimo than meets the eye.
Let's start out with the premise. Kyousuke Kousaka is your typical high-school boy; think of him as Kyon from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. He serves as the narrator of sorts for the series, and everything is shown from his persepective. He has a little sister named Kirino, who hates him. Or she hated him, that is, until one day Kyousuke finds an eroge DVD (an 18+ visual novel/video game). He finds out that it belongs to his sister, and then he finds out that Kirino is hiding an enormous stash of video games, anime DVDs, figures and other goodies in her closet. How does she get the money for all this? She has a modeling job. But what's more important is that Kirino, the perfect girl on the outside, is actually a closet otaku.
So there's your premise. Where it gets interesting is when Kyousuke tries to help Kirino find friends. She doesn't have any otaku friends, only school friends who would disapprove of her otaku lifestyle if they ever found out. So Kyousuke arranges an "IRL meet" where Kirino gets to meet other otaku. The trouble is, at the meeting, none of the other girls talk to Kirino, and she feels lonely. But one of the girls is also lonely like Kirino, with no one to talk to. So the leader of the meetup, after it is over, brings the two together to talk with each other. (The leader of the meetup uses a nickname that refers to a part of a woman's body - we'll just call her Saori here.) Kirino and the other girl, a gothic lolita under the screen name of Kuroneko, get into an all-out argument over which of their favorite anime is the best. And just like that, they're friends, even though it looks as if they hate each other.
That girl, Kuroneko, is the real star of the show. It's no secret that she's the most popular character in Oreimo. Everything about her is entertaining, whether it be the way she talks, the way she argues with Kirino, the way she dresses, or even the way she crushes on Kyousuke (yes, this is actually a harem anime too). Come for the Kyousuke-Kirino drama, stay for Kuroneko, because this black cat is the one to watch.
Lots of this series is slice-of-life, but very good slice-of-life. Assuming you are reading this blog post, you're probably an otaku. This anime spends a lot of time showing the life of otaku, such as Kirino going to a convention, Kirino playing visual novels, Kirino and Kuroneko writing competing fanfiction, and Kirino's friend cosplaying in order to win Kirino a special figure from her favorite anime, "Stardust Witch Meruru." Meru meru meru meru meru meru me...
The series spans 12 episodes, with an extra 4 tacked on that might be better than some of the normal 12. The OVAs (the extra 4) include special episodes just focusing in on Kuroneko, which end up being better because she's such a great character. The worst episode is episode 6, when the series focuses in on Kyousuke's kind-of-sort-of girlfriend who has no personality; the best episode is tough to decide, because there are so many to choose from.
Now I know what you're thinking: isn't this that incest anime? And it's true; the ultimate goal of the series is to push home a Kyousuke-Kirino relationship. But to be honest, this first season of Oreimo doesn't actually force an incest romance on the viewers. Instead, it simply builds up Kyousuke and Kirino's relationship together in a non-romantic way. In addition, it's harem, so Kyousuke has so many other choices anyway that you're not actually led to believe that he falls in love with his little sister. I haven't seen season 2 yet, however; that may end quite differently. In the meantime, you can enjoy Oreimo's first season with a clean conscience.
Overall rating: ***½ out of 4 stars, or 8/10 for MyAnimeList