What They Say:
Kyousuke brings Kirino home from America, where she attended a special track and field camp. Surrounded by her friends, she gradually gets her life back to normal. In stark contrast to her friend Kyosuke, who is unhappy with Kirino’s attitude towards him. She has been ignoring him since she came home, as if their relationship went back to how it had been a year earlier. But then Kirino does something for Kyousuke…
The audio presentation for this series is in its original Japanese language in stereo encoded done up in the uncompressed PCM format. This is a huge boost up in the math side of it as we go from 192kbps to the full mbps approach at a consistent rate, but it’s not one that drastically changes the sound of the series. The show is one that does a whole lot of dialogue-driven material but it has some fun wacky moments that takes advantage of the forward soundstage with some fun directionality, but by and large it’s a fairly straightforward mix that does the job right in creating a good slice of life feel. The music from the opening and closing sequences is often the biggest standout pieces, but some of the incidental music in the show works very well as does some of the bigger, more dramatic moments. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing at the end of 2013, the transfer for this 13 episode TV series and 3 episode OVA series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The release spreads over four discs with four episodes per disc. The show has a very good look to it with animation by AIC Build and the transfer captures it pretty well but makes it clear that this wasn’t a series with high-end animation. The look of the show is solid in terms of the encoding with how it’s handled but there’s a kind of simple approach to the character animation and a lot of the backgrounds. The otaku elements, such as stores, packaging, and other pieces, have a lot of detail to enhance the reality of it and that comes through cleanly here.. Color design is kept solid and problem free in terms of breakup and noise while the details in the backgrounds are definitely coming through crisply.
Aniplex USA has put out a pretty solid package here for this release that will definitely please the fans. Changing from the artwork of the DVD edition, this is still a thin slipcase kind of approach when one really wants a heavy chipboard box. The front cover has some cuteness with our leads all dressed their regular clothes but not something we see them wearing all the time, which is a nice change of pace. The designs and detail looks good and it’s certainly welcome to change the visual between editions. The back cover goes for pink-shaded outline artwork of characters with the shiny elements mixed in as well. The technical is spread across top and bottom with what the set contains and otherwise breaks down the staffing and cast for it. Within the box we get two clear Blu-ray cases to hold the four discs with two per case and no hinges or poor quality cases in general. The mix of character artwork is pretty nice as it goes for a simple approach with the back providing some text in the form of the breakdown of episodes by number and title. We do get artwork on the reverse side in a checkerboard pattern with a mix of colors and smaller character shots.
The main pack-in bonus item included here that’s really, really well done is a package of sixteen glossy and heavy card postcards. They’re all fanservice oriented shots for the most part, but they’re really appealing and use a lot of pieces from some of the ending sequences. They have a great thickness about them with the cardstock quality and feel like really good quality pieces that will make fans of the show very happy.
The menu design for Oreimo is fairly cute and nicely consistent across all three discs with only some mild changes. The general idea is one that works nicely with the character artwork to the left while the bright green logo is to the right that has spinning circular aspects coming out of it with pinks, purples, and oranges to give it the shifting motion. It’s a little bit garish but it works well enough for the show itself. The navigation strip along the bottom is simple with some lined spacing where you have the selections in tabs and it’s quick to load and very easy to navigate. Submenus load quickly and are problem free and due to it being a monolingual release, language presets are a non-issue.
This release contains a slew of extras to it that will definitely please the fans of the show. The standards are here of course in the clean opening sequence and endings, but it’s worth noting that there are sixteen ending sequences that they do here. We get the web previews for all the episodes, the SD previews which run quite a bit of time overall and the short movies with the SD characters. This covers a lot of time across all four volumes and offers a lot of fun with the characters in the SD form as they banter with each other and go for silly gags and other usual schticks. Some of it works, some of it doesn’t, but for the fan who wants as much Oreimo as they can get, Aniplex has delivered here.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first season of Oreimo certainly caused a bit of uproar with fans who were either totally into the concept and the fun of it or totally turned off by it. And both sides made their cases online, regularly. The first season did a lot of heavy lifting in a way as it introduced the cast, the connections that they have and of course the whole eroge aspect which leads to the kinds of friction that exists between our leads. They didn’t go as far as one might think, but they also kept it mostly within the realm of how most of these shows go. But the thing they did that was kind of welcome was that they didn’t go for the obvious out in having it revealed that they’re not really related or secretly second or third cousins. They didn’t make it so that it could, on some less squicky level, make it acceptable. So that was a big plus. This season? They stick to that but they eventually go all in with the relationship, though that’s at least kept to the OVAs.
This season picks up about three months or so after the end of the first season, which saw Kirino heading off to America for some education time in order to give everyone a little breathing room. With her back so soon, things didn’t go well on some level and there’s some natural awkwardness to all of it, made more so by Kirino who flatly refuses to even acknowledge her brother for a bit. He’s just unsure of what’s going on with her, but she admittedly has some social pressure in coming back like this, dealing with friends and settling back into life. Kyousuke, for his part, does much the same he did in the first season in that he’s a rather decent guy and decent brother who is simply coping with the kind of weirdness that comes out of his little sister. What helps to break the tension between them though is that she tricks him into going to Akihabara with him as she has three months of games, specials and releases to catch up on in a big way. It’s amusing, even if predictable. And so the second season moves forward.
Having watched this during simulcast, revisiting it now several years later is certainly interesting and I do find myself with largely the same opinions of it all. This season works through a good bit of material and it does provide for a solid ending overall. What we get here is a show that plays a lot with how people – not just teenagers – interact with each other. Taking out the brother/sister aspect for a bit, there is the whole angle as to whether one of them will really admit how they feel about each other and deal with it. That’s the “subtext” throughout the show for the most part with the main series. We know Kirino loves her brother, but just how far does it extend and does she really want the whole package. How much of it is just wrapped up in her head, aided and abetted by the games she plays, and how much of it is just confused feelings involving a young woman who isn’t sure how to grow up. We get that with some of the flashbacks to when they were younger and Kyousuke was growing up and away from her in some ways, which she really struggled with because she saw him pulling away. You can see that becoming more of who she is and wanting to find ways to hold onto him and going in this kind of awkward direction.
Kyousuke in a way feels like he’s harder to figure out with what’s going on. He’s been plain before about not wanting any of it in a real romantic way and was uncertain about the games, even if he was drawn into the taboo aspect of it and enjoyed it while not wanting to act on it in real life. But Kyousuke’s life is one that has a number of women that are interested in him and actively engage him in that way, which he pulls back from for the most part, especially in the first season. When he gets rejected by Kirino in some form early on here, he basically cuts that part out of his life for a bit and opts to date Kuroneko since she has been pursuing him for a bit. That actually becomes my favorite part of the season because they do date, even if she has a bad-end agenda to it, and there’s a lot of good stuff about their interactions together.
Kuroneko certainly made me like her throughout the first season and their time here cements that all the more, even if she does things in her own particular way. There’s an awkwardness and cuteness about them as it goes on and I really enjoyed it. We also get some decent time with Saori, mostly through flashback, that shows how she’s really bonded to him and the others through her own story, though at least there it’s not a romantic love but rather a platonic love. That helps to cement the friendships though from a different perspective and at least explains away her outfits and design. The Ayase angle is one that does work well, having the girl who hates him that could grow to love him is a standard concept, and she manages a really decent episode when Kirino chooses her to watch over him when he moves out temporarily to focus on his studies. They end up in a kind of relationship that’s fun to watch. Sadly, Manami really gets the short end of the stick in this season even if she does have a sort of claim on him that goes back a ways and has a deeper meaning with the issues involving Kirino. Her time is mostly in the OVA and she ends up being the voice of reality and reason, which doesn’t serve her well but makes her quite sympathetic.
So, yes, Team Kuroneko.
The TV series ends with things pretty much up in the air for the most part, which puts the onus of closing it all out on the OVAs. Which makes sense because even as a late night show, doing three episodes where two siblings get into a relationship, work through parts of it together and end up going through a wedding ceremony just wouldn’t fly well. While they provide an obvious out for it, the two of them engage in a rather large role-play experiment of sorts here where they commit to each other, get the support of everyone else after really working through their issues and feelings, and just go the distance. In a way, you can see Kyousuke using it as a form of helping her through it so she can grow out of it and it being a part of his good, kind and accommodating older brother archetype. But it’s indulging her too much, especially when the out is revealed later on, and it just feels so superficial and fake that you dislike both of them for it. In fact, I found myself disliking Kyousuke more for it because he gave up the chances at several really good relationships that would have been healthy for him – and for Kirino as well because it would have forced her to give up the fantasy. The OVAs do what’s needed and I’m glad that they didn’t cheat a way out, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it.
While I’m not in the hugely enthusiastic camp when it comes to the whole sibling-love subgenre that has been poking around the last few years, I can at least be amused by them since the majority of them cheat along the way with the concept. Oreimo doesn’t cheat and it doesn’t dodge things in the end and I have to admire them for going the distance that they did while still showing some restraint. This season provided us a look at a lot of what could have been for Kyousuke when it comes to the other women in his life and that left me feeling a bit sad that he missed out on a lot of good high school age experiences for what he did get, which could have some really awkward moments later in life. What we do get is a real resolution in this area for the now and an open slate going forward, so the show does grow and change across both seasons and we’re not left in the same spot at the end as we were at the start, something a lot of series really can’t say. I’m of mixed feelings about this season as more worked than didn’t work but the stuff that didn’t hinders what did. For fans of the show, a Blu-ray release should have been a given from the start and it’s kind of frustrating that it took as long as it did. That said, they put together a strong enough release here with the only weakness being the lack of a dub to make it more accessible to those that can’t or won’t do subtitles. It’s a solid package with some great extras and a really high-quality release overall with the encoding. Definitely recommended for those who find a lot of enjoyment in the show.
Japanese 2.0 PCM Language, English Subtitles, Previews and short movies with SD characters, “Gal-ge” style short movies.
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Aniplex USA
Release Date: August 21st, 2018
Running Time: 400 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.