Ore no Imouto–First Impressions

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When I first heard about Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai (My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute) I winced. It sounded like one of those sleazy ecchi incest-themed animes like Kiss x Sis.

The actual show doesn’t seem like that at all. In fact it’s rather sweet, though with some disturbing elements.

Kyousuke Kousaka (Yuichi Nakamura) is a mediocre high school student. He has a 14-year-old sister named Kirino (Ayana Taketatsu) who everybody thinks is perfect. She’s smart and pretty and successful at everything she tries, but he knows that she is really a brat.

Then he discovers her shameful secret: she is an otaku, obsessed with ultra-cute anime and “little sister” eroge. (The former doesn’t seem too surprising, but why would she be interested in the latter? It doesn’t sound like she’s a “bro-con.” From the way she talks about the games it really sounds like she’s a lesbian and doesn’t know it.)

Feeling lonely and desperate, Kirino turns to Kyousuke for help. She is afraid that she will be ostracized if her friends find out about her hobby, but she’s too obsessed to give it up. Reluctantly Kyousuke agrees and tries to help her find friends her own age with similar interests.

The show can be hilarious when it takes aim at the excesses of otaku culture. When Kirino meets “Kuroneko” (Kana Hanazawa), another lonely anime-obsessed girl, the two immediately begin viciously flaming each other because one likes ultra-cute anime and the other likes dark and moody anime. This sequence is priceless.

The show takes a darker and more disturbing turn when Kirino’s father (Fumihiko Tachiki) finds out that his 14-year-old daughter has been playing 18+ video games. He’s portrayed as unsympathetic and authoritarian, but frankly he has my sympathy.

He’s right. She shouldn’t be playing them. He’s genuinely afraid that they might be harmful to her. And maybe he’s right. She’s smart and thinks that she is sophisticated, but she’s really pretty immature and irresponsible. (Look how she ends up letting her brother take the blame.) And even if he’s wrong, he’s still her father and she’s still a child.

In the end Kyousuke lies to his father to take the heat off of Kirino, so she’s still going to sneak around and play the games without his knowledge.

Wait a minute. A Japanese television show in which children defy their parents? This is bound to end in tears.

On another level, should a television show be suggesting to 14-year-old viewers that it’s alright to play these games? The program is broadcast late at night, so no children should be watching. Um…OK. I also trust that no children know how to go on the Internet and find the streamed versions of the program. Oh well, if they have unrestricted access to the Internet, there are a lot worse things that they could be watching.

I’m reserving judgment. The show is pretty funny and depending on how the characters develop it might turn out to be really good. Or it might descend into sleaze and become really awful.