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OreImo is a Tragic Love Story

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By this stage I assume you already know about the ending of OreImo. Doubtless, you have opinions. I am here to tell you that they are incorrect. My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute! is a work of literary genius.

OreImo is such a deep and beautiful love story. The ‘little sister’ in OreImo is a metaphor for fate. The little sister rules over our lives, driving us towards ruin. Just like Kirino is a bitch towards Kyousuke, fate is a bitch towards us. But we can’t help but want what is bad for us, just like Kyousuke can’t help wanting to screw his little sister.

Not only that, OreImo is full of irony. In the beginning of the story, Kyousuke defended Kirino’s eroge from the normalfags who thought watching too much shitty imouto porn will make you want to do incest for reals. This was the act which brought him closer to his sister. And then after playing eroge himself he actually did want to do his sister. The normalfags turned out to be right.

But Kyousuke could not complete the dirty deed with his little sister because real life does not operate with hentai logic. Kyousuke and Kirino are star-crossed lovers. They could only play at marriage; it could never be. Kyousuke gave up all his chances to be with a score of hot (non-related!) girls just so he could publicly announce his incestuous intentions on a busy Tokyo street corner. And it all came to nothing in the end.

Where did it all go wrong? They could have said ‘no’ and stopped the farce at any point (preferably before the second season started). But on retrospect, there was no other ending it could have been. It was in the series title. It was all preordained. By the time Manami, the dutiful childhood friend, came in to stop them, it was already too late.

The story of OreImo is not an incest romantic comedy. It is a tragedy wherein all the possible happy endings are dangled in front of the audience’s eyes, only for them to be eliminated one by one because of the tragic flaws of the protagonists. As you can see, this is just like Hamlet and King Lear. 

I doubt there will ever again be an anime as deep, wonderful and poignantly tragic as My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute! This anime will go down as a classic in the history of all Japanese incest cartoons.

It truly moved my heart.

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Posted on August 21, 2013, in Anime Analysis, Funny Anime Stuff and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 31 Comments.

  1. That was.. ehm.. interesting post. At least it wasn’t head-on rage. Anyway, it’s funny, but the thing that made it all go wrong was the money. Originally Kirino and Kyousuke were supposed to go even further than with their wedding, telling their parents, getting kicked out and living happy, lonely, incestuous life. That was what I was waiting for, especially after I wrote it off when I learned who will be Kyousuke’s choice. However, this was bashed both by publisher and anime producers as they:
    a) wanted to avoid problems with ethic committee and such,
    b) thought they wouldn’t earn as much as with this wishy-washy finale.
    Yup, fate is a greedy bitch.

    • Heh, that’s an interesting backstory. Considering I actually invested my own money on OreImo, these creators should be happy to know their dumbass decisions were not in vain.

  2. I don’t watch this anime nor I wanted to watch it, but your post proved that any anime has multiple facets to it. Love between actual siblings is a tragedy on its own right even to people near to them and we know that there is no way to control our own romantic feelings. But I am wondering why the hate gone to a very extreme that I’ve never seen before. It’s even worse than the reactions over the second half of SAO.

  3. A good reading of the story. Yet another might be that Oreimo is a story of the constant conflict of the individual and the world/society at large. Staying true to oneself will always require hardship and sacrifices, Starting from Kirino’s secret hobby, all major characters exemplify some aspect of this conflict. As Kyousuke goes around breaking people’s hearts, he ends up screaming out his love for his sister in place of making up excuses or trying to smooth things out with half-truths. He recognizes that there is no generally acceptable justification for his choices, except for the single truth that his words and actions are all honest and genuine, questionable though they might be. In this sense, Manami appearing as the final boss character seems only natural, as she is the ultimate personification of common sense and normalcy in the series. Kyousuke’s rejection of her ideals despite his acceptance of her logic brings finality to his choices throughout the several last episodes.

    For a reader, the question would be whether they would make the same choices – throw away their peace and place in society for that one thing they personally value most or can’t resist clinging to. The incestuous romance would then naturally be replaced with more commonplace dreams, vices and desires. There are destructive addictions, like alcohol or drugs. There are social taboos, like those against same-sex relationships or certain religious beliefs. Finding yourself in Kyousuke’s shoes might not be as unlikely as it at first appears. And in our own small ways, we all make choices like his on an everyday basis.

    • I see you’ve taken my interpretation of OreImo as a straight-up analysis, which isn’t to say I didn’t intend it to be read that way, because I love the series and it’s fun to play with its ideas. I would say the fact that you and I have both come up with reasonable interpretations that didn’t simply dismiss the incest as a cheap plot device says a lot about how the series is really not as terrible as others seem to credit it for. The individual scenes are great – well-directed and exceptionally well-acted – it’s just applying those scenes to a broader picture that causes problems for a lot of viewers.

      • I know you well enough to know that when the expression “work of literary genius” appears in your review of a light novel, there’s something fishy going on :P.

        But then, you’ve already read about my reservations regarding objective measurements of literary value. So I just followed your lead with a straight face. If one is willing, there is really nothing in the way of finding greater worth in OreImo, after all ;).

  4. While the title already indicates the end result, I saw the OVAs and made my own analysis myself and it was cringeworthy. I may have said this in the finale post I made and my review of the second season, but it’s a disappointment compared to the first season. I won’t be surprised if Kyousuke gets the bad ending someday if the secret leaks out. :p

  5. Some points. First: I stopped after the S1 OVAs. Second: That doesn’t really matter to me. Third: I feel pretty vindicated, and will probably watch S2 on my own at some point.

    I don’t know how serious you were in writing this, or even why you might have wanted to be unserious (if it turns out you did) but there’s nothing light about it. It’s too legit.

    It’s sorta—should I just thrown in Northrop Frye half-seriously?—a mimetic story that has irony thrown into it as a device. The dissonance makes us feel weird about ourselves as people: just knowing there *was* a consummation just squicks a bit. Why? Because it made me feel weird. It got too close. This may possibly, upon reflection, be the “high mimetic” switching into the “low” and back. That makes the use of irony a bit weird, because one might think that if the Theory of Modes was worth sticking to in this argument, the story would be “low mimetic” switching into irony. But it isn’t that. I’ll explain.

    The plays you cite are specifically “high mimetic.” The protagonists are the superior and best of us. One can argue that Kyousuke kind of broaches the “high,” I guess, which may be your subtle point. Kyousuke doesn’t notice the tropes thrown at him, largely because at first, he just doesn’t know about them. So he seems a little…herculean, for lack of a better word at the moment. On the other hand, as animals, we should lust—really lust—uh-I-mean…if you’re into 14-year-olds I guess

    >_< dammit

    Deep breath. In, out.

    Coming from a guy who’s working his way through close reading of Nabokov’s Ada, Or Arbor, this doesn’t blow me away, the endeavor. I’ve seen it. I can say, “Sure. I get the message. Nice!” What I mean is, “I’m not surprised.” How many of us were (no, seriously, I don’t know the statistics, tell me if you happen to know)?

    Even from my first viewing of the first ep years ago, I *immediately* made this conclusion. Kirino *has* a brother complex. The issue is that “real” ones don’t work the anime way. I began thinking things through. I reasoned that, unlike in, say, Myself;Yourself or Yosuga no Sora, the sis isn’t merely treated as a wistful option in a quantum-superpositioned multiverse. Neither is the protagonist quite the everyman, “low mimetic” character. They are “real” or everyman. They seek ideals, but sort of aim to use uh…denigrating? Silly? Reductive?—tropes to achieve the ideal. This is one weird beast of a concept.

    The whole conceit is subordinated to realism, even irony, and the leap goes “spatially” back and forth. Last month, talking to JS, I went “Look dude, your reading of the text is great (as to the possible aesthetic purpose of its being a perverse “real story”), but from the beginning I’ve doubted the success of the project because I-JUST-DESIRE-KIRINO. That is to say, I get the project and message. Insofar as the closer and more sympathetic readers (like he and you) work hard to figure it out, the story succeeds. Insofar as there’s debate and criticism at a mass level, it succeeds. In the traditional sense of success by the benchmark of aesthetic unity or project? *Shrug*

    • Ada, or *Ardor*. Man, what’s with me today?

    • There are a million ways to interpret my interpretation: a legit analysis, trolling, an ironic point about how anyone can come up with an “intelligent analysis” about trashy stories. But as for how I feel about OreImo personally, I do like the anime, and I think it succeeds on a level where many don’t give it credit for: the fact I could come up with something like this says a lot in and of itself.

      We’ve got this anime where, on the surface, it seems very clear about what it’s about. It’s easy to read into. It’s watchable. But applying what we learn from each scene to a bigger picture is where the problem lies: the ultimate message seems corrupt and immoral from any orthodox angle. On the micro level, OreImo functions exceedingly well as an anime; on the macro level, not so much. It’s a fascinating contradiction. So as a viewer, coming up with an interpretation that puts together those micro elements in a way that creates a macro experience that pleases me the best is a worthwhile exercise. Although how similar or different my personal interpretation is from what I wrote in this post I won’t say here ;)

      • Well said (despite me posting a comment and ignoring all the posts, I just had to see other interpretations).

        The bigger picture is that, actually, there isn’t. What we know is that the siblings love each other. Love is there. It isn’t bad, it’s cute. Kirino expressing her tsundere love, her smile, her cute attitude that everyone adores. Then, Kyouske responds with warm responses and would always be there. I haven’t seen any disgust between them (all the others were just light).

        But with the bigger picture, the application of this lesson and conflict: can they actually love each other? Yes! Encouraged!

        But…

        Being blood-related siblings, society standards, and law–it cannot be accepted. But, deep into our hearts after watching this, can we allow it? Most certainly. Though, it’s tragic, love here is taboo. Stupid brain chemicals, why you do this.

        **Before I leave, I’ve always wanted a taste of Kirino :(
        Do you think that Kyuoske would, you know, go beyond the level? The next step to adultry? I think so :D!

  6. You know. I used to dread the idea of an incest ending. I had a strong feeling from day 1 that that’s exactly what the writers intended on doing. The main title was a dead giveaway. The first season aired and I felt a sense of completion. Nothing else needed to be told. The default ending was exceptional………..then the so-called “True Route” OVAs happened and I threw both hands in front of me and let out a big “UUUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGH.” Do we REALLY need to see which girl Kyosuke will end up with? Really? Is it necessary?

    The second season aired and I gave up. “Whatever. It’s more of the same, and not like in Working 2 where that’s a good thing. Do whatever you want writers. I lost interest.” From then on, I watched the rest of the series with zero interest in seeing who the writers would pair Kyosuke, though as the show progressed, it became clear who would win the competition. In the end, I say, “meh”. Oh, and Usagi Drop did it better.

  7. i wanna cry. the ending was terrible (in my opinion). i lost EVERY RESPECT for Kyosuke. i can’t watch this anime nor touch this anime anymore without feeling sick. and Manami!!!!! noooo!!! she was so perfect for kyosuke!!!! oh well… oh yea nice article btw! a fun read!

    • … Did you know when I watched the first season of OreImo, I said to myself, “Man, I wish I had a brother like Kyousuke”? Holy crap, did that opinion of mine do a One-Eighty. I think your name captures my thoughts very well. Nice name!

  8. My real feelings.
    I haven’t felt so empty after watching an anime. Don’t get me wrong I like the character everything else. I can’t even put or think right after the last episode. Maybe because I had my hopes high that they would eventually marry somewhere not in Japan. Fate really is a bitch someday I’d like to fight if I can. Seriously.

    • “… they would eventually marry somewhere not in Japan.”

      So you wanted them to marry for real, rather than the fake wedding we got in the OVAs?

      • bakabakabaka

        Well if its possible YES. But if not at least let them be together as lovers. or an Alternate world would be perfect where they would not be siblings.

        • I see :)

          Personally, I didn’t want Kyousuke and Kirino to end up together. I liked how their relationship was dysfunctional and not like that of normal siblings, but I was hoping for a harem ending myself!

          • bakabakabaka

            I’m just getting mixed feelings about these. I know that their relationship is dysfunctional and it wont work. It’s just that i am kinda heartbroken by their choice of being “normal siblings” while not knowing if they still love each other as a man and a woman not siblings.

  9. Ah, the tragic…

    To be utterly destroyed in the Visual Novel.

    I think it make a good comparision. Do you want a story filled with hardship ends with good end, or bad end? Anna Karenina or War and Peace?

    It’s like Code Geass all over again.

  10. I think your analysis is valid everyone has their point of view, but since I have already finish the light novels, I had been in deep thought about this series, and I think that the ending was pretty realistic. But ………
    although It’s something impossible marry your own little sister, for more they love each other, that is something Kirino always had in mind, she knows that in their conditions they never gonna make it and that is why she use the recordings to push herself to the point that she will find the perfect solution in the future but the reality is that she don’t know how neither Kyousuke. And Manami is someone who always think about this but she does not intervene until the end when she think that Kyousuke will go to the point of no return, with all her frustration she speaks her true feelings toward Kyousuke and says to they that their relationship never gonna work and that they have to think about how will be when they have 20 or 30 years,for they to reflect, at this point, kirino was at one step to tell the agreement between she and Kyousuke, but Kyousuke didn’t allow to tell this to manami, because he was fine standing against his best friend, saying that he loves his little sister because this were his true feelings and also for kirino.
    Although He knows that he can’t leave everyone behind and elope like in the eroge.
    He know that he can’t just say “leave it to me Kirino”, just like always because this is something that couldn’t be, for the moment…..
    Aside from all thoughts that say the they will never be together, I thought about what mikagami said in the final novel.
    He said “Marriage is not something the law can decide, it’s
    something you decide for yourself. True, based on this country’s law, It can’t be help it. But so what?””
    and….
    “To tell the truth, as long as you have love, money and health, life is like a
    simple game, right? Although before you had it, life would be very hard, for
    someone who already has all of it, what should they be afraid of?”
    This thought gave me the idea that the agreement to came back to normal siblings, was only for the moment, because they really do not have a solution for their forbidden love until they have what Mikagami said.
    I think this is not just my imagination, Because it is implied That They Still Have a secret relationship.
    The reason I have to think about this, is when at the end when they return to normal siblings, when Kyousuke turns to kiss Kirino, she does not get angry.(Kirini Blushed)
    She just tells him that this was not the agreed.
    And when they got home, they would talk about it.
    But this certainly implied that they continue loving each other, but not so openly.
    Since Kyousuke rejected all the girls, whom love him.
    And kirino love Kyousuke, although he was lazy and useless for the akimi incident.
    I think they will love each other forever.
    I think they are waiting for the right time.
    This is what I think, but I know not everyone thinks so.
    But no matter in what angle you look Oreimo, its a great series That won a space in my heart.
    btw
    sorry for my english, I don’t used to write much since I don’t know pretty well english.
    something else
    you’ve read the novel, right?
    if not, my comment is useless xD

  11. OreImo is a worthy component to everday life, where life choices become difficult because it conflicts two indicative things: common sense and sister-brother romance. But, considering the two, OreImo well displaces these two conflicts into one.

    Of course, it is a taboo to have romantism between two blood-related siblings, in this case, Kirino and Kyouske. The world of religion, socially accepted ideas would repugn this tabooness. But, considering the love, the siblings has to be together for one reason: true love!

    Okay, no more formalities here, I will get straight down the point (don’t mind the mix and matches of my arguements, I am with mixed feelings).

    So, to put it bluntly, the siblings has to be together, I cannot stand it. We know that it isn’t socially accepted, but, cmon’, that was by far the warmest heart touching anime I have seen! Where the sister, Kirino, always loved her brother from the start. I had a feeling that they deserved to be together and I wouldn’t care if it steps out of the social boundaries.

    But, it’s already been determined that this cannot happen. Funny. The beginning of OP for the first season was “Irony.” Foreshadow? Coincidence. Then, the second season says “reunion,” yup. The siblings got together alright. But, they cannot be for so long.

    The thing is that, in the end, they will just become normal. It’s a tragedy! But, that doesn’t mean they can act normal. I mean, yes it’s taboo to be together, but remember, they can still elope secretly. For fucking sakes! It’s funny how Kirino always wanted her bro! She even plays eroge to make up the sad feelings she has inside. T_T Im so mixed feelings right now.

    I want her and the bro to continue to love each other.

    Despite rejecting all them chicks, Kyuoske will end up as a loner boner for the rest of his life.

    Same with Kirino.

    They will continue to live normally, but will always be in conflict because they will love each other, yet, they cannot show it in society. So, they are stuck.

    Solutions.

    1) grow older and secretly elope and have no friends (Romeo and Juliet)
    2) they will just come out and speak it out to the world (they will be broke and live poorly)
    3) (like this ending) they will live normally with normal lives, but with the feelings of uncompleteness and will never be truly together (despite that they reunited and met a dead end).

    Now. People say that if it weren’t for the incest part, then we all do fine. But consider this: incest is part of the story. How would Kyuoske ever meet Kirino? The story is fully revolved around the two protagonists that were siblings. Think. Yes, Kyuoske could meet Kirino as a non blood-related person. But, we wouldn’t want that. The love thing –which we all loved and admire– is based on incest (Kirino and Kyuoske).

    Does this conclude that incest should be a socially accepted thing? That is the question.

    ***Just one more thing. I will forever miss this anime, as it taught me many lessons when it comes to love. Love those genuinely. Nothing that I experienced in life has been as good and the anime’s relationship (well, I hope it would never be). Kirino x Kyuoske. I am sorry, guys. But they deserved it. It was cute. Now, I will take a Kirino wallpaper as a commemoration for this tradegy!

  12. Man, I’m surprised so few people picked up on the sarcasm/satire/hyperbole. I enjoyed the comparison, for elements both factual and fantastical. GG, funny stuff.

  13. I can see where they really love each other and probably be together for the time being. After graduation, in which in their agreement say ‘the time to break up’, Kyousuke still rejected Manami. When going to school together, Kyousuke told Manami to say that it would be the last time they will walk together. I guess it is some of the part of saying goodbye to each girl, to prevent Kirino from getting sad because of him making quality time with another woman, even after they know that their relationship would end quick. It means that they are going to retain their relationship (or, atleast their feelings), because Kyousuke did not want to hurt Kirino. After the kiss and removal of the ring, is also seen that they kissed after even they become ‘siblings’. This movie made me rethink, for me sure it’s hard to imagine my own sister being with me (even I don’t have one). But I think this incest stuff is about common intuition sense rather than law-related or stuff. If they really love each other like in this anime, what should they be doing? From the first place if I have a sister, I probably would never fall in love with her. But if I think again, what if you really fall for your sister, and vice-versa? I don’t think it can be helped. In this anime though, Kirino had so much love, even from the beginning. It’s very hard to imagine that how better Kirino became, and her becoming an eroge lover, is all due to the love for his brother. If it were not for her brother Kirino would have not been the person she is right now. I have to admit I hate the ending, very much. I would have expected something like being expelled from house, going far away, faking IDs so that they can marry together. Even by watching the ending I really wanted to throw my phone really hard. But to learn that they still love each other very deeply, seeing that they were happy even after removing their couple status, I am a little bit relieved. Just imagine that in the future they will sort a way out of this misery, because they still have very deep feelings for each other.
    Ayase is my favorite character outside of Kirino though. But since the few last episodes where they have flashbacks I seriously think that Kirino and Kyousuke deserves to be together the most.

    Maybe after I write this stuff my stress over the tragic ending will be reduced. It seriously sucks to watch the ending. Undeniably, although the part in the middle can be a little bit boring, the incest love put into this movie is just too powerful. Made me reconsider whether incest love ban should be lifted or not. Law is there, but IMO it doesn’t work that way. It’s practically imposibble to love (couple love) your sister, even when you don’t know that the law does not allow you. So you don’t need the law in the first place. Brothers who have actually grown love for their sister is different though. As long as it is a mutual relationship (not like where one rapes the other) I think maybe it should be treated as a normal love relationship. We already have laws for rapes and it also applies to family members! I can see the genetic problem, but its not like they cannot overcome them. Couples from different families also suffer genetic problems. Even some couples who have genetic problems realize that they can just overcome these stuff because love conquers all. This incest ban really just made me sad, especially after watching this anime. How tragic.

    I was doing Kiss x Sis before, OVA, TV, and Manga all done (manga awaiting for next volume tho) but to seriously say, in the TV version, they made the ‘proper’ ending so touching. OVA didn’t have proper ending. Manga hasn’t ended yet and it successfuly made me think twice about the time I wasted for 96 chapters that I read already. For me ending is the main appeal. I recommend you guys watch Kiss x Sis TV if you guys really like OreImo. Ecchi warning though.

    Can’t deny that this anime is a magnificent piece of art, it successfully really made me sad up until now. I never knew that an anime would be capable of making me so stressed and hollow. Sometimes on happy endings we just have to cherish, and to endings like this, sometimes we must stop and just think that it’s just a written piece of art and nothing else, otherwise it will just stress you over and over and make you crazy. Huh, guess it’s time to watch another and stop stressing over this one.

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