In society, there are taboos. Words, phrases, or ideas you do not say or espouse, acts that you do not commit. This is normal for societies and taboos are often in place for good reasons. These taboos can range from any number of things. Such as eating beef in Hindu societies for religious reasons, eating pork in Islamic societies, and cannibalism is a big taboo in the vast majority of societies. Taboo subjects will sometimes be explored by society through various pieces of media such as movies, films, or television shows.
My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute, also known as Oreimo, is one such piece of media. Originally a light novel series written by Tsukasa Fushimi released in 2008. It was made into a manga in 2009 that was drawn by Sakura Ikeda. Oreimo is an interesting piece of media, to put it lightly. Among Weebs and Otaku it has a certain reputation for one aspect of it’s story. If you have had any interaction with this anime, the light novels, or manga, you know exactly what this aspect is. What societal taboo it breaks. A taboo I’ve mysteriously omitted from the previous examples. But, let’s put the discussion of that off until later. First let’s look at the rest of the show instead of focusing on something that occurs at the very end of the second season. So, what exactly is Oreimo? What is it about? Who are the characters involved?
The story starts out with Kyosuke Kosaka, a 17 year old high school student living at home with his Mother, Father, and 14 year old sister named Kirino. The two siblings don’t really get along. Kirino often acts coldly and cruelly towards her older brother. The result of years of decay in their relationship. Their mother isn’t a major character and doesn’t have much screen time or dialogue. Their father, Daisuke Kosaka is a large and domineering figure. He has a strict no nonsense attitude and a more traditional outlook on life. This aspect of his character creates conflict early in the story. Another important character is Manami Tamura, a childhood friend and classmate of Kyosuke. She has short brown hair and glasses. Kirino often shows a great dislike of Manami and coldly refers to her as “plain girl”.
The plot of Oreimo starts when during a normal day Kyosuke finds something in the house. It appears to be a DVD case for an anime. But, when he opens it he’s shocked to find a video game. Not just any video game, an eroge, an erotic video game. Shockingly, he learns that this belongs to his sister, Kirino. That night Kyosuke is awakened to find Kirino looming over him as he lays in bed. She says she needs some “life counseling” and wants to show him something. She brings him to her room and makes Kyosuke swear not to laugh at her before opening up her closet door revealing that it’s stacked high with anime, video games, and numerous other pieces of merchandise. Kirino is a hardcore otaku with a specific interest in a, unique, theme of eroge. She’s specifically into little sister themed eroge. A genre about an older sibling in a romantic relationship with a younger sister. Remember this. Thus begins the period of Kyosuke being Kirino’s confidant in her , for now secret, interests.
The plot progresses with Kyosuke encouraging Kirino to find people to talk about anime and manga with besides himself. She goes to a real life meetup where we are introduced to more characters who form a small friend group with Kirino. There’s Saori Makishima, a tall girl with glasses who speaks in an exaggerated manner. She’s the one who organized the meetup and encourages Kirino to socialize when she feels out of place. Then there’s Kuroneko, who dresses in a gothic lolita style and serves as both a rival and good friend for Kirino. Their similar personalities and strong convictions regarding anime cause them to clash often. With this new friend group Kirino has an outlet to discuss her interests.
If you were to describe the first season of Oreimo you’d describe it as a brother and sister mending their broken relationship through the sister’s interests in, admittedly odd, otaku based content. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this is what the entire anime was about. However, such naivety will cost you as you go into the second season.
To understand the beginning of the second season you must understand the ending of the first. It’s slightly confusing so hold on. There are actually two endings to the first season of Oreimo. That’s right, two. The “good ending” and the ending that continues the story into the second season. Episode 12, “There’s No Way My Little Sister’s Life Advice Can End Like This (Good End)” begins with Kirino acting strangely. She’s unusually polite and respectful towards Kyosuke and later asks for a “final life counseling” favor from him. She asks him to go purchase an eroge for her that’s being released at midnight. Kyosuke obliges and when he returns home she asks him to play it with her. Later that same night Kyosuke learns that Kirino is traveling away to America to participate in track and field training. This makes Kyosuke unhappy that she never told him about this major development. He acts strangely while playing Kirino’s eroge and they have a brief fight. The next morning Kirino decides that she isn’t going to go to America, and that the Kyosuke’s life counseling isn’t over. Which makes him happy.
The true ending to this season extends through multiple episodes and begins similarly to the “good ending”. But this time Kirino actually goes off to America. While there she starts sending messages to people at home telling them to throw away the merchandise she so loves. This worries Kyosuke who actually flies out to America and convinces her to come home with him. Which she agrees to. This marks the end of season one of Oreimo and Kirino will be home by the beginning of the second season.
This might be a good time to discuss how to watch this series. If it interests you and you want to watch it, be warned that if you are watching it on Crunchyroll, you will have to go elsewhere for a few of the episodes. Crunchyroll, for some reason, leaves off the last few episodes of both seasons. If you only watch what’s available on Crunchyroll you’ll be confused going into the second season, and be left feeling unsatisfied by the odd ending of the second, and final, season. Just a warning.
Finally, we get into the final season of Oreimo. Remember earlier when I told you to remember something? Well, I hope you did because it’s coming back this season. As the relationship between Kyosuke and Kirino progresses we see them get closer and more like brother and sister. A contrast to the very beginning of the show where Kirino often yells at and hits Kyosuke. It comes across as relatively wholesome. But, like all good things, this wholesomeness would come to an end. It would be shattered in the last few episodes of this season.
First, let’s discuss what happens prior to these last episodes. Towards the end of the first season it’s revealed that Kuroneko, one of Kirino’s friends, has a crush on Kyousuke and their relationship begins in season two. The relationship is quite cute, however brief. With Kuroneko ending it suddenly and breaking Kyosuke’s heart. Kirino comes to her brother’s help and they confront Kuroneko together. The relationship isn’t rekindled but Kuroneko remains in their friend group. What follows is a sequence that’s somewhat baffling on first viewing. Multiple very attractive women in Kyosuke’s life confess they have feelings for him. This sounds great. But, he turns all of them down. You see, he’d made a promise to Kirino that he’d never date anyone. This came after Kirino pretended to have a boyfriend briefly.
After turning down all these girl we approach the finale of Oreimo. It’s Christmas time and Kyosuke and Kirino are going on a small shopping trip in the city. This is when things take a turn in this anime. During this trip Kyosuke confesses his love for Kirino and asks her to marry him. Kirino tearfully replies, “yes”. Reminder that Kyosuke and Kirino are siblings with the same biological mother and father. That’s right, the major societal taboo in this anime is incest!
After this confession and tearful answer, the two spend the night in a hotel room where they discuss their future together and make a promise to each other. Later, they hold a mock wedding ceremony (!) where the two siblings exchange vows and kiss. It’s then revealed what the promise in the hotel room was. They promised to continue their relationship for a few months and then break it off. At the very end of the anime Kyosuke is out and about with Kirino when he says he wants to cash in a promise she owed him. He then kisses her on the cheek and the anime ends. But, wait. The anime may be over and you may be relived that they never went further than kissing in this incest anime. The author of the original light novel series wrote a short story that takes place after the anime ends. The story heavily implies that the relationship between Kirino and Kyosuke never ended and they went… all the way.
Before the ending the anime was fairly wholesome. A story about two siblings mending their strained relationship. But instead this was twisted into something, frankly, disturbing and vile. This is why I said that if you hadn’t seen or heard anything about his anime that you’d think it was relatively wholesome up until the end. The incest that’s sort of sprung onto the viewer at the end taints the entire series. You can’t think of Oreimo the same ever again after watching that last episode. For better or for worse this is the singular aspect that anyone who’s watched this anime remembers.
You can say that this was being built up to. If you’d already known about this anime beforehand you could’ve spotted stuff. Like, for instance when Kirino first tells Kyosuke about her hobby she moves in close to him and Kyosuke backs up, clearly weirded out. This scene can be used to show one view of the plot of Oreimo. That Kirino wanted the ending all along and manipulated Kyosuke to make it happen. Throughout the show Kirino makes Kyosuke play the eroge she buys in an attempt to get him interested. Whether intentionally or not, being exposed to the kind of eroge Kirino was into could’ve made the idea of incest more normal seeming in his mind. We can’t really be sure.
Whatever you think of this anime. It can’t be denied that it made a lasting impression. Even on people who’ve only heard of it. Most know very little of the plot besides the ending. So, what are we to think of this anime? Overall, the show is fairly well written (ignoring the obvious), the characters are fairly fleshed out and the art style is decent to look at. Where it really falls flat is the ending. The opening theme, Irony by ClariS, is catchy. I’d give it a 6/10.