Saturday, October 09, 2010

:anime: First Impression:: Oreimo Ep. 1

To Oreimo, Ep. 2-->

Oreimo, Ep. 1 - "My Little Sister Can't Be My Love"

As noted yesterday, Oreimo was a title that has been on my fall radar ever since happening across an illustration of it a few months ago, despite not knowing a whole lot about the series.  By appearance-alone, I sort of got a general feel of what to expect from the boy and the girl in it--"comedy, some sort of ongoing conflict".  Vague as it was (hey, it was just a picture…), it was still close to what we actually got…

Oreimo's premiere episode turned out to be a pretty good affair.  Kyousuke Kousaka doesn't get along with his popular younger sister, Kirino.  This isn't helped by the fact that they have fairly frosty personalities and perpetual scowls when around each other (and when they aren't).  One morning, they bump into each other, spilling the contents of Kirino's bag onto the floor and eliciting a snappy response from the girl.  Later on, something catches Kyousuke's eye under a piece of furniture and discovers what looks to be a sister-centric eroge-based anime DVD.

Unsure of who would even have something as seedy as this among his family members, he casually mentions the title at dinner, which gets a rise out of only one person--his little sister.  After dinner, she confronts him about the DVD, where he manages to coax the truth out of an embarrassed Kirino.  With the cat out of the bag, Kirino decides to show Kyousuke her "secret stash": a massive pile of siscon games and anime which she proceeds to gushes about (most rated beyond her age limit).  Despite her nervousness over someone discovering her admittedly-odd hobby, Kyousuke reassures her that what she spends her money on is her business and that he would be there if she needed help.  It's the first time that he's really ever gotten to know his sister and despite his bewilderment over her tastes, he tries to show her some support.  However, getting slapped awake late in the night and dragged to her room to help her play wasn't exactly what he had in mind…

By premise (or title) alone, one would be inclined to think that this would be just another bawdy ecchi comedy, or worse, an additional entry into the burgeoning field of incest-fueled works.  It's too early completely say that Oreimo will avoid those traps, but if its first episode was any indication, then it's promising that it will.  If anything, it actually plays off of some of the aspects and situations inherent in such eroge or unusually close sibling relationships in anime/games, as seen in the opening scene and forceful awakenings, or even when Kyousuke tries to make sure Kirino doesn't have any secret feelings for him, due to her predilections.  It is that sort of subversion of cliches and tropes that really propelled the proceedings, accentuated by the character that is Kirino.  She's a walking contradiction and very much the last type of person you would expect to be harboring such an intense infatuation for little sisters (though it appears as if she just may want a little sister of her own…).  While she talks and fawns like your usual otaku (and over something that she herself could easily be categorized in), you can still buy that she could be into that sort of thing, based on how well she is portrayed (a testament to the quality of the writing and direction).

As compelling and interesting as she is, Kyousuke isn't your usual milquetoast foil to "the girl with a 'tude".  His personality can be as cold and acerbic as her's and seems to always have that same annoyed, miserable look on his face.  He's not played for a fool, either, as shown with his deduction skills with the lost game or with figuring his sister out.  The consistency between the two personalities of the siblings was one of the highlights of the episode, since you could genuinely tell they were family and could understand how they clicked and why they were so abrasive towards one another (and amusingly, it appears as if they got those traits from their father).  Watching the final scene during the end credits, it plays out just as you would expect to with those two involved.  And at the same time (and because of that), it was both fun and warm seeing them sort of bond in their own roughshod, bizarre way.  With Kirino trying to wrangle Kyousuke into her hobby, you could get the sense that it is her own way of trying to bond and communicate with him.  Over erotic "little sister" video games.  Just not in that way.

Accomplishing an admirable job with the production of the show and its animation is AIC Build, which may or may not be the main studio of AIC, since they have about 58,732 variations under their name (all kidding aside, they have about five sub-studios. Whereas most major studios simply have "Studios A, B, ..." that are tasked to work on separate shows and operate under the same moniker, AIC actually went out of their way to give each of their's its own name. I thought "AIC Digital" was the main one, but now I can't tell if "Build" is a new one or the actual main one…or its new name.  AIC's funny like that…).  Lesson aside, it's become typical of AIC to put out high-quality work across the production board and keep their like-quality character models consistent, and Oreimo is no exception.  A nice, bright pastel color palette breaths life into the anime, and the cursory use of CGI blends in quite well without jarring the senses.

The character designs are what caught my attention in the first place and there was no disappointment here, either, nor in the vocal talents that were behind them (especially the two stars, Kyousuke's Yuuichi Nakamura and Kirino's Ayana Taketatsu, who really nailed how their characters operated).  What could be classified as a disappointment was Satoru Kousaki's score.  His attachment to the show was another reason I was looking forward to it, but while its beat had a certain standalone, listenable quality to it, it also felt too playful and upbeat to really enjoy.  It also seemed to be a little one-note--a surprise given that it is by the same man who penned the music to The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Kannagi, and Bakemonogatari (maybe it's because Oreimo is the third show this season that he is scoring (Star Driver, Tantei Opera Milky Holmes being the other two), though that remains to be seen).  The theme song played at the end falls into a similar camp, as well--sounds good, but unremarkable nor distinctive.  Time will tell in that case, as well.

In all, a pretty good start to things for Oreimo, which not only showed that it's beyond what its premise could have been (i.e. ecchi-fest or creepy incest garbage), but also a good amount of layering and cleverness, as well as a knowing wink towards its twisting of expected genre tropes.  Hopefully, Oreimo can continue to build upon what its premiere episode laid and avoid some easy pitfalls going forward.

NOTE [10/14/10]:  ANN's stream of "Oreimo" and the as-yet-debuted "Togainu no Chi" are on hold indefinitely following the leakage of the former's second episode Saturday, the same day the simulcast began.  I noticed at first that the video in the link above was removed late that night (then thinking maintenance was being done) and came across news of the situation shortly after. I wanted to wait until there was an official confirmation before making note of it here, which came yesterday.  However, I will still leave the link here should the video ever come back, whatever the likelihood.  I really hope ANN can fully remedy their security flaws and continue with the simulcasts, as problems like this can certainly affect the trust and similar future ventures with Japanese content holders.

NOTE [10/23/10]:  Finally added that screenshot I forgot to post the first time around.  As for future "Oreimo" reviews, I would rather wait until ANN or someone else restarts it (if at all), rather than seek out fansubs.  So, until then…

NOTE [11/04/10]:  ANN announced that they will be resuming the streams to both "Oreimo" and "togainu no chi", so yeah, the reviews are back on!  So I guess the waiting was really worth it…

No comments:

Post a Comment