Thursday, January 27, 2011

:anime: First Impression:: Oreimo Ep. 8

<--To Oreimo, Ep. 7

The face of a soul shattering into a million pieces…

After a hiatus for "Decade's Best", year-end write-ups, and other postings, HD's reviews of Oreimo pick up right where they left off at with Ep. 8's!

OreimoEp. 8 - "My Little Sister Can't Be Animated"

With Kirino's novel being a success, the publishers have decided to turn it into an upcoming anime. The budding author takes Saori and Kuroneko along with her to the production meeting with the staff and producers, where her giddiness over the show and eager requests are brought down in flames by the hard-nosed screenwriter and reality. After the story is picked apart, ground through the mill, and suggested for alterations--including making the little sister-loving lead into a male--Kirino's spirit is thoroughly crushed.

After passing out at home and feeling ill following her experience, Kyousuke meets with Saori and Kuroneko, who let him in on what happened, including the fact that her work, with its headiness and just one volume published, was primarily chosen because another project fell through. Feeling frustrated and not wanting to let her anime be mangled beyond recognition, Kyousuke (acting as his sister's liaison) and the others attend the second production meeting. He meekly tries to reason with the staff concerning with Kirino's wishes, including her desire to keep the protagonist female, but does not get far. Exasperated at the circumstance, Kyousuke criticizes them for their generic planning of the show and lack of care for her work, getting into it with the screenwriter, who only sees Kirino as a "business prospect" for them and cares more about the film (the series) than pleasing the author.

As the man runs through his reasons for having to make changes to an original work for animation, Kuroneko calls him out for his lack of imagination and trying to bring it down to his own comfort level. She is disgusted that people are trying to capitalize on a bad, yet bestselling, novel when she has been trying to get her own manuscripts considered for so long. She notes that the screenwriter is in the same position that she is--a failed novelist with a hurt pride now stuck with adapting some young girl's work. Kyousuke tries to interject through her rant, but she sticks her barbs into him, as well, accusing him of also being jealous of Kirino's personal success. She admits it was satisfying seeing her get torn to shreds at the meeting, and even Kyousuke, deep down, felt the same way when she came back home so depressed. However, it is his little sister that is sad and knowing how much the anime meant to her, goes to bat for her, regardless, and makes a heartfelt plea to the staff, bowing and begging to them to consider how much heart and work she put into it. Kuroneko, in her own abrasive way, concurs and also asks them to reconsider it.

On the train back, Kyousuke asks the two girls to keep what happened a secret from Kirino. When asked by Kuroneko why he cares for her, he can't quite say himself, other than the fact that they are siblings. Kuroneko admits that it makes her envious. A day or so later, a content Kirino, with manuscript in hand, gloats over the producers keeping in most of her original content--thanks to them understanding her passion. But as Kyousuke exits the room, she asks him for advice, which she says will be the last…

Once again, unevenness rears its ugly head on Oreimo. While parts of the episode were good, particularly with how Kirino's bubble was burst and Kyousuke's appeal to the staff towards the end, this episode suffered from the same problems Eps. 3 & 5 had, in which the show tackles the intricacies of a topical issue in a ham-fisted manner. Those two involved the social mores of otaku and public perception, while this episode centered around behind-the-scene dilemmas between authors of original works and those that seek to adapt them. Much of it had an insider flavor to it, and undoubtedly, some of the talk that goes on here feels borne from experience, but like before, also felt forced and preachy, as if the staff was more focused on providing commentary on a certain topic than making it fit comfortably within the confines of the plot.

As with Ep. 5, feelings are also exposed or made front-and-center that only seem to have arisen for the sake of the episode and its message. With little build-up, the emotions often feel false and contrived. Kyousuke still hates Kirino and took joy in seeing her hurt? Who knew, given the way they portrayed their relationship the last few episodes (and just a few minutes earlier)? Yes, Kuroneko can be sharp-tonged and has a love/hate relationship with Kirino, but was the rant necessary at all, much less angst all-around? The whole "We are jealous/hate Kirino, but care for her because she's our sister/friend, so let's try to make her dream come true, anyway!" thing would have been more effective had it occurred around the third or so episode, when things with Kirino were dicier, but at this point, it doesn't fit in and makes little sense following the (purported) progress we have seen from before. In short, it was an unnecessary layer of conflict over the central one.

As good as Oreimo can be, its unevenness whenever it handles topical episodes has been, perhaps, its most major fault. Surely, the last three or four episodes will entail a big issue as the series' climaxes, and if it plays out like it has here and in other episodes, things are likely to get rocky. At the very least, there is Kirino's "final" request for advice to look forward to…

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