Tuesday 20 August 2013

Anime REVIEW: Ore no Imōto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai. (Season 2)

Ore no Imōto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai Oreimo Season 2 Kirino

Despite its slightly incestuous overtones and overly bitchy main character, the first season of Ore no Imōto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai proved somewhat of a surprise hit with me. However its unrequited love story between several of the main characters was left unfinished, and so the series has returned for a second season (which has exactly the same title, only with an added "." at the end). Once again it takes the format of a 13-episode television series, with 3 ONA episodes following later to provide a "true" ending to the series.

Ore no Imōto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai Oreimo Season 2 Kuroneko Kyosuke
You know it's love when there's a costume change.

Kyosuke and Kirino are back for more life advice sessions and adventures with anime, manga and eroge games. However this season expands to focus closely on his growing relationships with the others around him - the quiet but kind Saori, goth otaku Kuroneko, Kirino's best friend Ayase, wannabe idol Kanako and childhood friend Manami. All five girls are vying for Kyosuke's affections in their own way, but in the end only one can win out. How will this affect Kyosuke's life and ultimately his relationship with Kirino?

Ore no Imōto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai Oreimo Season 2 Saori
Hooray for backstory!

Though Oreimo has, is and always will be centrally about Kirino, the majority of the second season actually plays to the biggest strength (and more underused aspect) of its predecessor - the side characters. Saori finally gets the back story she so sorely lacked, and very slowly rises up to be more than just the "less extreme leader of the otaku crew". Meanwhile Kuroneko (or Ruri as she's more often referred to now)'s relationship with Kyosuke and its after-effects is one of the main drives of season 2, adding a lot more depth to her as a character as both her family and more "normal" personality is explored. Even Ayase and Kanako are given much more reason to be here than before, with Ayase's story suddenly concerning Kirino less and less. The only side character to suddenly be given less attention is Sena, and she was such a tacked-on character to begin with nothing of value is really lost.

Ore no Imōto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai Oreimo Season 2 Ayase
I'm still not an Ayase fan.

Kuroneko's episodes certainly take the prize for the most emotionally investing episodes, but even if these don't hit you the same way they did me it's unlikely you'll come out of this show without a pairing you especially want to root for. Certainly the otaku humour from the first season is still present, but in much more smaller doses. The relationships taking centre stage may on the outset make Oriemo suddenly seem like a more generic series, but its setting makes sure it's anything but that.

But as I said earlier, this show will always come back to Kirino. While Kirino is very much still the irritating, bitchy girl she was for the majority of the first season (perhaps even worse in some cases), it's very much evident that the bond between her and her brother is constantly growing. As such, Kirino becomes a much more acceptable character and her good nature begins to shine a bit more.

If you're adverse to spoilers, this is now the place to stop reading.

Ore no Imōto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai Oreimo Season 2 Manami
I have misjudged you Manami.

But no matter how good the 13 television episodes are, the real talking point is the ONA episodes and to make the romantic feelings between Kirino and Kyosuke explicit. Before now the incestuous overtones could be somewhat explained away by a very strong sibling love but no, the show pretty much goes all the way it can without straying in adult territory. Whatever your feelings might be on this decision, these episodes are among the most tense and dramatic the show has to offer. It approaches the topic of love between siblings with a sense of realism, the two acknowledging that they can never be a public couple and how the two would be branded if people were to find out. The harsh truths are brought about in the best possible way with Manami - the character that throughout the show has been a boring girl who doesn't have a bad word to say about anyone, bringing them with physical (quite literally) impact. The choice to have her out of all the characters deliver these was a fantastic choice, as the one that's been behind Kyosuke all along suddenly stands up for herself and what society considers normal behaviour.

Ore no Imōto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai Oreimo Season 2 Kirino Kyosuke

The truth is, Oriemo season 2's ending is going to divide people, there is absolutely no escaping that. However without taking the last three episodes into account, this show does a lot of things right. It provides a more equal footing for all of its cast members, and is capable of provoking joy, laughter, disappointment, shock and (potentially) disgust. While Oriemo may ultimately be a comedy, it does handle its subject matter in a relatively "serious" fashion and while I certainly don't like or approve of the route it took, I found it an engaging watch nonetheless. If a show can make me feel all these feelings in just the space of 16 episodes, then surely I can call it a success?

No comments: