When I watched the original first season of OreImo a month before the airing of the second season, I was oblivious to all the controversy surrounding the franchise and I actually quite liked what I saw. The incestual undertones never really bothered me, and the whole message of a brother helping his sister indulge in a hobby unfavorably by society was hilarious, and even a little heartwarming at times. It also helped that it had a solid theme of “Normies vs. Otaku” which gave a nice sense of social commentary. A few episodes did stretch my suspension of disbelief a little too much, particularly the story arc in which Kirino manages to get an LN published, but overall it was an okay series.
With the second season, it didn’t take long for my interest in OreImo to dwindle. I believe by the fourth episode I was convinced that this was doomed to be inferior to the previous, and by the seventh I’d lost all interest in the franchise, joining the mass of forumers and anitwitteres who bashed it every week. See, the problem with S2 was that it threw away most of the otaku commentary and heightened the focus of the plot on harem hijinks, eventually setting itself up for the incest ending.
The incest in OreImo is disconcerting, though it’s not necessarily because it’s incest that bothers me. I’m of the opinion that incest isn’t a bad thing in and of itself; there are certainly a lot of issues that can arise due to incest, but OreImo is about two consenting teenagers so we don’t really need to concern ourselves with that right now. Those of you who follow me on twitter may already know of how I’ve salivated over the likes of Nisemonogatari and Candy☆Boy, so I’ll also note that I’ve been okay with the concept of incest long before I watched those two animes. The problem with the incest in OreImo is that Kyousuke and Kirino clearly do not have the most ideal relationship with one another. The show often has Kyousuke running around circles to please his little sister with little to no respect or thanks in return, and for most of the series Kirino stubbornly acts verbally abusive in a manner which must put her up with the most repetitive and annoying tsundere’s of all time. For a time this works well for the comedy aspect of the series, but once a romance arises between the two it’s difficult to see why they would like each other.
Because I had lost all interest in the series midway through S2, I went ahead and spoiled myself on the ending of the LN series as soon as it was brought up in discussion on the NHRV forums. I didn’t think much of it really at the time, but now that I’ve actually watched the S2 OVAs and seen the conclusion unfold for myself, I couldn’t help but get riled up by it. Aside from the controversial ending, the big problem with the OreImo 2 OVAs is that they try to tell a serious story about incest, in fact almost mimicking the incest eroges that it was originally parodying, yet still insists on trying to be comedic.
From the opening scene of the OreImo 2 OVAs it’s evident that we’re in for something absolutely terrible, as Kyousuke meets up with Kuroneko at the dead of night and partakes in the most rage inducing rejection I’ve ever seen. I’m not quite sure why their meeting up in the first place since I was under the impression that Kuroneko was okay with Kyousuke dating Kirino, but to see Kyousuke shout right in her face about how he loves his little sister more than her just makes me want to punch the guy. And it only gets worse from there, as just about every dramatic highpoint of the three episodes ends up being far too goofy and absurd to be taken at all seriously. Such scenes include the deus ex machina of Kyousuke’s friends coming out of nowhere to help him chase Kirino; him shouting his love confession to Kirino at the top of his lungs, followed by Kuroneko playing large speakers of what Kyousuke said when rejecting her, etc…
The big exception being the confrontation with Manami, as that is perhaps the one good scene of the OVAs; if only because of how sensible and realistic Mami spouts out all the problems with Kyousuke and Kirino’s situation while not exactly being demonized by the show either (although still treated like an antagonist.) The best few seconds of the entire OreImo franchise in general however would be, of course, the frame of Mami punching Kirino in the gut. I can only imagine how many jumped up in applause; the timing of that scene was flawless. In fact, the fight between Manami and Kirino in general was rather nicely done.
But after all the laughably bad romance, the most rage-inducing aspect of these OVAs is the conclusion where Kyousuke and Kirino pretend to marry each other, and then call off the relationship altogether. If they knew that it would only cause problems for them and were going to end the relationship anyways because of that, why did they even start dating each other in the first place? Why would they risk alienating all their friends and family for nothing more but to date each other for a few months? The majority of the cast ended up being okay with it, sure, but there was still the huge risk of consequences, especially with how their parents could have reacted if they found out. And they did alienate some people too, such as Manami and possibly Kuroneko. If the relationship had a predetermined ending, then everything about episode 15 and 16 is just pointless.
Worst of all though, it comes off as a huge cop-out. And it is a copout! Despite being the textbook definition of otaku-pandering bullshit, OreImo actually has managed to break through the confines of niche late-night otaku culture and become semi-mainstream in Japan, which means it has less freedom to do the socially unacceptable things that otaku-pandering bullshit can usually get away with. Because of this the author was forced by his publisher, Dengeki Bunko, to change the ending a bit so that it wouldn’t squick out as many of its now wide audience, yet still kind of keeping a semblance of the ending that the author was setting up.
So now, because of the cop-out ending, nobody benefits from this series. No one invested in the harem hijinks gets to see one of the girls “win,” the imouto fetishists who actually liked Kirino do not get their long awaited incest ending, and those who disliked the incest in general certainly weren’t happy with what they already did. Thank you Dengeki Bunko, you’ve ruined everything.