This was the anime I started watching at Anime LA. In the attempt to get it on sale if I chose to buy it, I marathoned the rest of the series (minus the special episodes) in one day. I decided not to buy it.
Okay, so as a standard rule, I tend to avoid all anime with the words “imouto” (little sister) or “oniichan” (big brother) because for some reason, Japanese otaku LOVE anime with some kind of implied or real incest angle. And with the translated title, this just sounds DIRE. It seemed to get decent reviews, but I didn’t trust anyone, so I just put it on the “avoid” section.
My friend, however, told me a bit about its plot and it sounded more safe that way: Kyousuke finds out his sister Kirino is a closet anime fan and promises to keep her secret. Well, not entirely safe, because Kirino doesn’t just like anime, she likes that horrible imouto anime I just explained above. But still, it sounded semi-ok, so we watched the first couple episodes at Anime LA, and it was pretty funny.
Since the sale I was considering buying it from ended the next day, I was pressed for time and marathoned the following 10 episodes. It turns out I have a love/hate relationship with this anime.
- The side characters Ayase, Kanako, Saori, and Kuroneko. Ayase and Kanako are Kirino’s “normal” friends. Saori and Kuroneko are her otaku friends. Ayase is Kirino’s fellow model and is horrified when she finds out Kirino’s hobby and shuns her, only to realize that she misses her and decides to try and like the less skeevy parts of her hobby. Kanako desires to become an idol and will go to great lengths to doing so, even if it means pandering to otaku men. Saori and Kuroneko are also endearingly funny, especially the goth-loli Kuroneko who is always fighting with Kirino over whose anime is better. And then Kuroneko and Kirino write their own stories and put each other as terrible characters in the stories. Saori is sort of a quiet instigator with her swirly glasses and oddly formal speech patterns. Her last name is Bajeena, which is… frightening. (hint: B and V basically sound the same in Japanese)
- The otaku jokes. Kuroneko and Kirino bicker like the anime forums I frequent. They argue the same arguments. Kirino defends her “loli incest porn” and Kuroneko is an “elitist.” I loved the episode where they go to Summerket (Comiket) and the cosplay contest (“Isn’t this an anime for kids? Why are there so many adult men here?”) The otaku fandom jokes were truly funny and hit their mark.
- The eyecatches. In the halfway point of anime, there’s this thing called an “eyecatch” which signifies the midway or commercial point. These specific eyecatches were DVD cover parodies of real anime series, and it was pretty fun to see what anime they were going to do next.
- The OP/ED: I believe each ED was a different song (I could be wrong, but it definitely was more different than the same), and the OP would vary with whatever characters were going to be in that episode. I thought that was neat.
- The art. The art and character designs were very appealing.
- Kirino. She is loathsome. She has zero redeeming qualities. She punches and kicks her brother without provocation, makes him get her eroge (erotic games) sometimes, much to his embarrassment, treats his potential girlfriend like a slave because of her (Kirino’s) jealousy, and talks down to him constantly. Everyone else goes out of their way to be friendly to her or tries to go the extra mile for her even if they don’t really like her, and she gives back nothing in return.
- Kyousuke. He has no spine. He lets his younger sister treat him like dirt. In the final episode, she practically beats the shit out of him in a temper tantrum (and it’s not even a funny scene) and he’s all amused fondness the next day. Domestic violence is not fucking endearing.
- The “male gaze factor.” Kirino is in middle school, and she is posed or has the camera drift over her body in truly disturbing ways.
- The sis-con games. Watching Kirino play these sex games featuring little pre-teen sisters was disgusting. There was even an episode where she was getting totally turned on while playing her new game which grossed out her brother, who could hear her through their shared bedroom wall, as well as me.
So yeah. Hated the ending. Hated the main characters. Hated the creepy pandering. Loved the side characters. Loved the otaku references. Unfortunately, the bad is outweighed by the good for me, and I just can’t justify buying this, despite some of the gems this show has. I really, really wish they just made a funny show about a teen fashion model who is ashamed of her otaku habits and guilt trips her brother into helping her. If they had cut down the creep factor and ramped up the otaku jokes, this could’ve been a really nice little comedy.
LATER: Okay, so I went ahead and watched the final extra 4 DVD only episodes because everyone said these made they show. I don’t know if they made the show, but they were a HUGE improvement over that horrendous ending of the original, and once again, am on the fence about owning this show.
- Violence cut down severely in episode 12.5 the “true” ending as opposed to the so-called “good” ending of episode 12. MUCH MUCH BETTER. My hatred for Kyousuke has been tempered. That last episode truly broke me on him.
- The next two episodes had no Kirino (yay!) and instead focused on Kyousuke’s and Kuroneko’s growing friendship (yay!) and introduced a new character, a fangirl (she was pretty funny).
- The last episode had Kirino again, but she was much more likeable and sympathetic for a change instead of horrid.
So. Where does this leave us? Another season is being made, and I’m curious to see what tone this will take. Will it continue the grossness of the first season, mixed in with the occasional gem? (boooo) Or will it shift tone (as it seemed to be doing) and instead focus on the otaku fandom jokes? (I HOPE) Definitely will be watching s2 on Crunchyroll to see where this amazingly frustrating show is going to go.