Blog Carnival: The impact they had on us (Or: Why I still love OreImo)
About two months ago, Foxy Lady Ayame and Neko-kun started a blog carnival to talk about anime which influenced their lives. I thought it was a great idea – you should definitely check out their post as well as the list of other bloggers who have participated in the event. But personally, I found it really hard to come up with something to say about this topic. I feel like I’ve already written quite enough already about the anime titles which have influenced me personally. (Examples: 1, 2, 3)
Then it hit me. It’s not just well-written anime that has an impact on you. In fact, there are plenty of (what I would consider) relatively poor anime that have a special place in my heart. In the end, it honestly doesn’t matter how clever you are or how refined your taste is – the most important thing is what you make of what you watch.
One particular anime has had such an enormous impact on my outlook as an anime fan that I still think about it almost constantly to this day, even when so many others have deemed it trash and moved on with their lives.
This anime is called My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute!
I’ve already talked about OreImo to great length before, but screw it. That’s a testament to how much of an influence this show has had over me.
OreImo was my gateway to hardcore otaku culture. It took me a while to warm up to it at first. When I first tried to watch it soon after it first came out, I was put off by the incest subtext and never got past episode 1. But in early 2012, I gave it another shot, and the rest, as they say, is history. (I am now an unabashed wincest fan.)
The first time I watched the show, I identified with Kyousuke as an outsider to otaku culture. Now I identify more with Kirino, especially since so few people know about my otaku hobby in real life. At the same time, I “consume” Kirino as an anime girl. I own a figurine of her, I have a poster of her on my bedroom wall, I own a freaking OPPAI MOUSEPAD of her for God’s sake.
So what does that make me? A disgusting kimoi otaku?
This is a question I have been struggling with for a long, long time now. It’s an inner conflict that rears its head every time I write about otaku culture. I’m not so blind in my love of anime that I cannot see the insidious subtext in shows like this one. Plus, I laughed with the rest of the anime fandom as OreImo’s ending crashed and burned on itself. I mean, OreImo is a really silly anime. Let’s not argue about that.
But none of this lessened my love for this franchise, nor does it diminish the influence it has had over the way I choose to write about anime.
You see, back when I watched OreImo during my “pleb” days, I had no way of understanding what drives the people into moe otaku culture. While OreImo offers a sugarcoated view of otaku culture, it’s not so disconnected from reality that it never attempted to engage with the outsider’s perspective – at least in the beginning. And, well, I appreciated that. It made me realise that you can engage with other people on their level by making a sincere effort to understand their fandom.
This core belief, I think, has coloured my entire approach to anime blogging.
This is the reason why, in my tweets and posts, I speak the same language as the fans. I talk about shipping and waifus and husbandos and so on even as I criticise these very things. I think it is so, so important to understand emotionally what you are criticising, because criticism, at its heart, is an exercise in empathy. I criticise anime and I criticise fandom because I want to understand what makes these people tick.
I see art as a means of dialogue. People respond to art differently and you can talk about that, come to an understanding about it. This is why I reject arbitrary divisions between high art and low art. In its own way, something like OreImo can speak about the human experience as much as Revolutionary Girl Utena and Neon Genesis Evangelion. Even if OreImo may do a piss poor job handling characterisation in the context of its own narrative, it really does mean a lot to me in the context of my experiences in the anime fandom.
I also like hearing people criticise anime I like. Not that I disagree that OreImo is problematic – heck, you might even call it toxic because of the way it glorifies the worst parts of otaku culture. For others, the criticisms might be as simple and mundane as “the characters are annoying” or “it’s harem nonsense”. You can learn just as much about a person from the reasons why they dislike an anime or refuse to engage in fandom activities. This is one of the great things about divisive series and it’s probably one of the reasons I spend so much time writing about them.
In the end, I wouldn’t be the blogger I am today if it weren’t for the influence OreImo had over my thinking. That’s pretty amazing, right?
To anyone reading this, I’d love to hear about an anime that has influenced you. If you’re a blogger, feel free to write a post about this and link it to this post or Foxy Lady Ayame’s. We’d love to hear from you!
And if you’re furiously typing something in the comment box right now to insult my taste in anime or in BEST GIRLS, I have one thing to say to you. You can just get on your knees and kiss my sweet ar-
Posted on December 1, 2014, in Editorials and tagged DO PEOPLE EVEN CARE ABOUT THIS SHOW ANYMORE, i love kirino please don't hurt me, i want a kawaii imouto, neon genesis evangelion, ore no imouto ga konna ni kawaii wake ga nai, otaku culture, revolutionary girl utena, wincest. Bookmark the permalink. 25 Comments.