Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai is one of those shows that’s really trying to hit it out of the park. They’re trying really hard, and I suppose it’s working, as I’m under the impression that the show is well spoken of. While I generally like the show, instead of looking at it as a whole, for now I’d rather talk about just one aspect of it that I enjoy: its realism.
This isn’t to say that a show called My Little Sister Couldn’t Ever Be This Cute is in any way realistic, but the show’s otherwise otaku-centric setup is tinged with deep shades of realism in various areas. Take, for instance, Kirino. In my perfect world Kirino would be a typical imouto-archetype character, and I’d be completely happy and satisfied with that. However, in reality, she’s a total bitch. Not unlike real little sisters. While this doesn’t win Kirino any points with me, I will admit that her attitude gives the show a nice bit of spice that makes you sit up and pay attention. Furthermore, over achieving girls like her do exist in real life, even if they are somewhat rare, and I also feel that aspect of Kirino is portrayed with a good degree of realism.
On the flip side, her otaku super powers are also quite realistically portrayed. I mean, if she was some fat guy fanboying about all of that stuff, it wouldn’t be very cute at all, right? But there are fans out there who really do act like her, and are as powerful as her. I’ve seen dudes on 2ch with collections comparable to Kirino’s. While the combination of a stylish, over-achieving, totally bitchy little sister and an otaku isn’t realistic, those various facets of her are portrayed realistically, and it’s just kind of nice to see a TV show go out of its way to portray such things realistically.
One other aspect of the show that’s lavished upon with a good degree of realism is its portrayal of the fan scene in Japan: from the picture perfect depictions of Akihabara, the off-kai in the maid cafe, to the everyday banter between Kirino, Kuroneko, and (my personal favorite) Saori. None of these aspects of the show are BS–they all draw upon real aspects of anime fandom that a lot of us are generally aware of. While people in the US may be unfamiliar with some of Akiba’s iconic sights, or the concept of an off-kai, certainly we’ve all had debates similar to Kirino and Kuroneko’s usual back and forth. In fact, you can find debates to that effect in the archives of this very blog (don’t read the archives of this blog)!
The level of care taken in portraying these fans as actual people, and not just otaku caricatures, helps me connect with the prevalent fan aspect of OreImo better. But note, I said they’re not just otaku caricatures. They are still caricatures, mind you. I mean, just look at how they dress–you can guess their character types before they even open their mouths. But despite being written off of a typical otaku template, OreImo’s added layer realism is refreshing, and gives the show a fairly unique flavor. So it has that going for it.
But while we’re at it, I’ll level some criticisms at the show to close this thing off. First of all, the show goes out of its way to play it heavy way too often. It seems that if each episode doesn’t reach a required quota of drama, the very fabric of the universe will come undone. While this does work alright 9 times of 10, they reach too far at times. For instance, the drama between Ayase and Kirino was stupidly forced, and the episode they had to deal with that was somewhat unpleasant to watch. Similarly, the latest episode revolving around the production of the anime based around Kirino’s novel just felt too drawn out. It was cool to get a general idea of what goes on in those anime board meetings that one only hears about, but after a while it just old and repetitive. Furthermore, I’m not even sold on the idea of Kirino’s dumb novel getting anime either. They do address the fact that her dumb story getting an anime is in fact dumb, but in the end things go Kirino’s way. So when all’s said and done, it’s all rather pointless. The episode where Kyousuke stayed at Manami’s place was such a breath of fresh air, as it demonstrated that the show could do comedy really well. And honestly? This cartoon needs way more jokes.