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Oreimo Vol. #01 Manga Review

9 min read

A story of sibling bonding courtesy of anime and erogames.

Creative Staff
Story: Tsukasa Fushimi
Art: Sakura Ikeda
Translation/Adaptation: Michael Gombos

What They Say
High school student Kyosuke doesn’t get along with his cranky, dismissive, and secretive 14-year-old little sister Kirino, but he finds himself somehow protecting Kirino’s secrets – she’s not only a fashion model and a great student, but she’s got a huge collection of naughty video games and anime! Who says girls can’t be otaku, too?

Technical:
The artwork associated with this particular release is largely one that goes for a slightly less than “realistic” approach but which doesn’t become cartoonish all the time either. For the most part characters retain their basic designs though the artist isn’t afraid to use some SD work and caricatures to help sell particular gags or establish the playfulness of a given character. For the most part the art is solid but it often seems to lack a dynamic element which makes it sometimes come off as rather flat with the standard designs but it has moments where it manages to rise above its limitations though it never reaches a place where it feels really special.

Much like the rest of the material there might be elements of the art that turn some people off as there are a number of scenes with Kirino can have a tendency to focus on her anatomy are poses that can have a suggestive nature which given she is supposed to be a 14 year old girl can create for some uncomfortable moments when, for example, a panel is focusing on her waist and the short-shorts she is wearing for example while the conversation (which isn’t about her cloths) is taking place. The art never becomes very graphic but at times there is a bit of tease to some of it which may not sit well with everyone while others may appreciate the (often but not always) well drawn curves or somewhat provocative imagery..

The translation is largely a pretty good one with a nice flow to dialogue being present with terms that aren’t defined by the conversation getting a definition below the panel so it doesn’t disrupt the balance and rhythm that is being constructed. Such definitions are pretty much (though not exclusively) only used for terms that don’t have really common English equivalent and which then get an asterisk and definition just off the panel. About the only really odd thing here is the use of a particularly English slang term that gets a few appearances and which really stands out when it is compared to the use of English equivalent words or the original Japanese word throughout the volume as it really isn’t one that is likely to be prominent in Japan.

Note: the material provided was done so in a digital preview format so there is no physical materials portion to this review.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Original seeing life as a light novel form in 2008, Ore no Imōto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai (My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute) or OreImo for short has become a franchise unto itself with no less than 10 volumes of the novels under its belt, a pair of manga adaptations, a 2010 TV animation series with another season scheduled for Late 2012 as well as some games, drama CDs, a radio show and more merchandise than even the series titular sister could hide away to its credit.

The story is presented from the point of view of Kyosuke Kosaka who describes himself as a typical 17 year old high school student who lives in his home with his authoritarian father, a rather permissive mother who seems to like to tease him but the real standout in the family is his 14 year old sister Kirino. In many ways she is everything he isn’t as she possesses a stunning beauty which even he acknowledges and a rather high IQ but he knows little about her as a person as she has been at best avoiding and at worst incredibly cold to him as long as he can remember…but things are about to change in a major way that he couldn’t possible conceive of.

Big changes can come from little incidents and in the case of OreImo everything begins when Kyosuke forgets to put the tea away after having a glass and he accidently bumps into Kirino as he comes down the stairs to rectify that mistake just as Kirino is heading out the door, an act which causes her purse to fall from her hand and which spills its contents on the floor. She then storms out after brushing away his help in picking up her items and he notices just after that there is an anime DVD case under the box where the family keeps their shoes in the foyer. He is in for an even bigger shock when he opens the case and sees that rather than the disc the title would suggest should be present an even more damaging item lies within- a disc for an 18+ ero game.

Unsure of who it belongs to Kyosuke lays a trap at dinner to see which of his parents it belongs to figuring they are the most likely suspects (outside of himself, but he knows it isn’t his)- only to be shocked when it is the person he never suspected, Kirino, who falls into the trap. When caught she is both defensive and vulnerable, expecting that her brother is going to go off on her for having such a perverse hobby. To her surprise, Kyosuke doesn’t judge her but is accepting of her hobby which seems to thaw the relationship between the siblings and Kyosuke thinks they might be on good terms for the first time in ages.

Later that night though he gets a surprise visit from his sister who brings him to her room and she shows off her rather sizable collection of anime, games and assorted merchandise before dropping a pair of bombs on him- first that she has been working as a model to pay for all of her stuff but more shockingly that her favorite things are erogames- and not just any ones in particular but she has a fixation for ones where the lead character winds up with his little sister and she expresses a fondness for little sisters which causes Kyosuke some pause. Now stuck in an “In for a penny, in for a pound” situation, Kyosuke is going to be giving his little sister the support she can’t find among friends as she looks for advice on her hobby as well as other aspects of her life related to it as he tries to help her hide these items from their parents. Perhaps he might have been better off with the old arrangement.

OreImo is a title that has garnered no small amount of fans but no small amount of controversy as well, and both are kind of fair. With its standoffish and often bratty lead as well as a number of other characters who have some parts to their personality that have become rather stereotypical (the childhood friend, the goth wearing friend of the sister and a few others that don’t appear in this manga volume) the series has a fairly vast cast of characters for people to pick a favorite from though the characters are based (though not totally reliant on) some modern anime archetypes. On top of that the basic premise of finding someone to share a favorite hobby with is one and who won’t judge you for it echoes pretty strongly for a number of people, particularly those in a hobby like anime or Visual Novels who may face scorn from the average person and when one adds in it being used to connect with family members that they have been separated from each other in a bonding sort of way it becomes somewhat apparent how the series can hold some powerful appeal.

The controversial side though is that the idea of a 14 year old little sister attracted to erogames that involve sexual situations with little sister types hits a large number of people in their philosophical/moral makeup as it borders on some of the touchy morals most developed societies have constructed, a situation not helped in the least by Kirino often being presented in skimpy or revealing outfits and some provocative poses. Not helping this is her tendency to ask the kinds of questions that can be present simply because of either nativity or simply because she doesn’t recognize the effect it has on causing certain questions or thoughts to race across her brother’s (or any probably the average reader’s) minds while at times also sharing some thoughts on her hobby that sound like they should be coming from someone much older who can be more easily dismissed for having a perverted mind. For this reason the title is one that may turn off a number of potential readers as even in its most innocent form it is still a bit beyond what many are likely use to seeing from a 14 year old (though probably as much because they forget what they were thinking at 14) and so those who feel a bit hesitant about such matters may be advised to give the franchise a sampling (the anime is still available for free legal streaming as of this writing) before jumping into it.

For the most part as long as one can deal with some of the panels and their occasionally questionable focus and thy also don’t have a major objection to some of the dialogue that could be misconstrued easily ( and intentionally by the author) which Kyosuke occasionally stumbles on when he gets distracted by either the words his sister uses or her manner of dress which she doesn’t realize as she doesn’t think that way most of the time (and when she does occasionally catch on to what she said and how it might be construed Kyosuke gets a verbal or sometime physical lashing from her reacting with either disgust or embarrassment). It is definitely the kind of series that isn’t for everyone and which has material that could be seen as easily objectionable if taken out of context (though some of the in-context stuff could trip some of these as well) and which maybe be better off being skipped by those who find their tolerance for such material to be on the low end of the spectrum. Those who do pick it up though will find an odd but heartwarming at times tale of a brother looking out for his sister which helps heal some of the estrangement that had grown between them over the years.

In Summary
OreImo brings the popular franchise to life in manga format as it presents the (mis)adventures of an average 17 year old boy who has found a way to reconnect with his anything-but-average14 year old little sister who has frozen him out of her life. While the method of this reconnection may ring with others as he is helping her and serving as confidant to her hobbies the nature of said hobbies- particularly the erogames focusing on little sisters- may be a bridge too far for some potential readers. Those who do chose to investigate the series will find a brother who is willing to lend what knowledge and support he can to his shockingly vulnerable at times sister who is looking for advice on how to hand these aspects of her life and which her brother may be able to help with. It is a story that mixes some sweet family moments with some rather sensual imagery and at times risqué topics to bring a completely unusual tale of this brother-sister relationship to those readers who aren’t turned away by some of the particulars found within the pages.

Content Grade: B
Art Grade: B-
Packaging Grade: N/A
Text/Translation Grade: B+

Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: September 5th, 2012
MSRP: $10.99

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