OreImo, Vol. 1

By Tsukasa Fushimi, Sakura Ikeda, and Hiro Kanzaki. Released in Japan as Ore no Imōto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai by ASCII Media Works, serialized in the magazine Dengeki G’s. Released in North America by Dark Horse Comics.

After reviewing I Don’t Like You At All, Big Brother!, I have to admit that I was not particularly looking forward to OreImo, which does not quite swim in the same waters but is in the same general area, featuring a sister who may harbor closer feelings for her brother than most would be comfortable with. So readers may be pleased to know that I didn’t really hate this, it cleared the low bar that I had set it when I came into it. That said, there’s a lot here that I found awkward, overdone or creepy too. Japanese harem manga lately seems to not only find originality unnecessary, but positively revels in its cliches, and you can see that going on here.

The premise of this work, which is also translated as “My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute!”, is that our generic everyhero Kyousuke discovers that his pretty, popular and standoffish younger sister Kirino has a secret fetish for anime and otaku stuff. Specifically, she loves H-games. And even more specifically, she loves H-games based around older brother/younger sister incest. When confronted about this, she’s upset, but even more she’s relieved that she can finally talk to someone about it, even if it’s her brother. Kyousuke is (of course) a Really Nice Guy, so he tries to find ways to get her to make friends and be able to not repress everything until she’s unhappy. This is hard, as she’s a massive tsundere (see the cover image), but eventually she bonds with a grumpy goth and a busty Gundam fanatic, and all seems well. At least until their father finds her porn…

Let’s start with the things I liked. All the characters are more likeable than IDLYAA,BB. Kyousuke may be a generic everyhero, but at least he *is* the nice variety, trying to do his best for his little sister, bonding with his childhood friend who clearly has a massive crush on him (that he doesn’t see), and so forth. The emphasis in this title is clearly meant to be about the two kids growing closer and opening up as family, with the incest providing a plot setup but (I hope) not really the main thrust of everything that happens. It’s lower-key and sweeter, and the humor is more character based. I also liked the Gundam Girl, who seems poised to be this series’ Cool Big Sis, and who I suspect is hiding something behind those huge otaku-parody glasses.

Now for the bad. The art is terrible. This is not all that uncommon in light novel adaptations these days, but unfortunately it really caught my attention here. All the girls are 14 but look about 4-5 years younger, and the artist has this very odd habit of drawing smiling happy girls as if they’ve just been drugged. Also, I suspect someone took Ikeda aside after the first four chapters and said “Yo, tone it down”, as the overemphasis on asses and the incestual imaginings vanish rapidly when we reach the halfway point and things get less big brother-ey.

The other problem is simply that there’s not really much here that’s new and exciting. A harem comedy with a tsundere lead and a generic male who will, no doubt, get involved in all sorts of wacky misunderstandings, with the ‘gimmick’ being that the supposed cool and beautiful younger sister character is actually an otaku with a slight big brother fetish. The brother-sister incest thing is very big in Japan right now, as a quick look at the bestsellers charts may tell you, but in and of itself it’s not all that interesting. Indeed, I Don’t Like You At All, Big Brother! is at least upfront about its perversions. OreImo’s attempt to be the kinder, gentler incest title comes off as more boring than anything else.