24 Dec 2010

Oreimo (Anime) Review

Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai (aka Oreimo) (2010)
Format: TV Series, 12 X 22 minutes
Studio: AIC
Score: 3 stars
Summary: Despite its many controversies, this series cuts down on the fan service to deliver an enjoyable look into the life of an underage otaku.

The premise seems familiar. A well-liked and respected girl is secretly an otaku. This series does not mince its words. Galge and doujinshi abound, most of which are eroge and ecchi/hentai stuff. In fact, they made use of real locations in Akihabara and actual doujin art for the numerous random books and game covers. The controversy here is that the lead character is a 14 year-old girl that plays games with 18+ ratings (like Singapore's M18 rating). She is never shown buying the game though (which is illegal), but she plays them all the time (which, if I'm not wrong, is not illegal).

Controversies aside, this series rarely pushes the boundaries like other ecchi RomCom like KissXSis and Yosuga no Sora. Instead, they focus on the otakus themselves and their hobbies. This is done much better than Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu, which tends to focus more on the ecchi rom-com and using the otaku factor as a mere plot device. It doesn't hurt that all the supporting characters are also great. Saori and Kuroneko are given subtle back stories while Ayase and Kanako are more than just simple one dimensional characters. I especially love Kuroneko (voiced by my current favourite seiyuu, Hanazawa Kana, who does a deadly "nee-san") as the script writers do not shove background information about her down our throats unnecessarily.

Animation-wise, we have studio AIC (who did the rather good Nyan Koi) pulling out all stops to ensure all the details are in there. The art is great, with lots of nods to actual doujin artists (in fact, a ton of doujin artists lend their works and talent to this production), but the animation is merely sufficient. Nyan Koi, being less grounded in reality, probably had a better chance of showing off more sophisticated animation, but I felt that they could have done more here. The staff for this show is mostly unproven new talent but they have certainly done a good job. One highlight in the staff roster would be Art Director Eto Koji who also worked on Angel Beats and Kara no Kyoukai. Definitely someone to look out for as he improves, but the direction here is already quite consistent and detailed.

My major complaints for this series would stem from the 2 main characters. Kirino and Kyousuke are rather awkward and it is quite hard to tell what they are thinking sometimes. Kyousuke is your typical rom-com protagonist, while Kirino can get very very annoying, to the point where many viewers would start hating her. Tsundere taken to the extreme! The dere side isn't very pronounced and we do not see what she actually is thinking about. Kirino is played by Taketatsu Ayana (aka Azusa from K-ON!) who seems to be slowly setting into the tsundere role, albeit performing it a little differently from Tsundere Princess Kugimiya Rie. The worst thing about these main characters would probably be their rather sudden change in attitudes towards the end of the series. It's quite obvious the original source material (light novels) is incomplete. The ending feels a little rushed and not very conclusive.

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