Review by: Ai Kano
Publisher: Aniplex of America
MSRP: $74.99 US
Running Time: 400 minutes
Release Date: October 18, 2011
This is not your typical otaku love story.
Rare is the anime series that not only manages to tap into the genuine feelings that an otaku feels for their hobby but also – for some – touches on themes that hit close to home. The thing is that we’ve seen anime like it before but Oreimo tells the story its own way and does it with enough humor thus making this Limited Edition Complete Box Set yet another reason wallets and purses will get a lot thinner. Oh yeah, Oreimo is just that good.
The Complete Box Set takes us through all 12 of the televised episodes including 4 extra episodes that can only be seen on this DVD release and I must say that the story is intriguing and likeable from the very beginning. We are introduced to high school student Kyousuke Kousaka and his sister Kirino who don’t exactly have a very loving brother-sister relationship. In fact, Kyou feels that his younger sister doesn’t even like him to the point that she simply ignores him to live her fabulous fashion model and school’s track star life. Meanwhile, he looks for sisterly love with a childhood friend named Minami Tamura.
Then something happens that changes everything when, one evening, Kyou crashes into Kirino in their home’s hallway. You see, the beautiful girl drops a rated 18+ PC game of the eroge (erotic) variety. He confronts his angry sister and she has no choice but to come clean. You see, Kirino is a closet otaku with a love for anime, manga and eroge featuring little sisters. She’s a big fan of a magical girl anime series called Stardust Witch Meruru and has a hidden closet filled with Meruru merchandise she’s been collecting.
Interestingly enough, after revealing her secret Kirino asks Kyou if her hobby is too weird and when he says no she asks for his help. Suddenly, the two siblings that weren’t talking to each another are slowly building something of relationship as Kyou – understanding of how most people treat otaku – suggests that she make friend with other otaku like her. So, looking online, Kirino gets invited to tea party in Akihabara by the community leader of a group called the Gather Otaku Girls club.
It is thanks to meeting the club’s leader named Saori Vageena and a Lolita-goth girl named Kuroneko who become her good friends and it is with them that Kirino grows comfortable talking about their shared hobby. Kirino even enjoys her verbal sparring with Kuroneko as they debate about whose favorite anime series is better – Kuroneko’s darker series or Kirino’s child-like magical girl series. At last, Kirino has found people she could debate, talk and enjoy the things she loves about anime and games.
It is because of this that Kirino and Kyou’s life begin to change and as Kyou becomes involved in her sister’s hobby he very slowly becomes closer to his sister. However, two incidents force Kirino’s hobby to come out into the open and the incidents speaks volumes of how others react to otaku. It is Kirino’s father who discovers his daughters love for anime and eroge and is against both for no real reason. Meanwhile, during a fun trip to Summerket, Kirino’s fellow fashion model and best friend named Ayase runs into Kirino with a bad filled with dojinshi. Ayase’s reaction is that of disgust that is brought on by negative opinions based on an article that Kyou proves is without merit.
In the wake of these problems, it is Kyou who helps settle the matter with their father as well as Ayase. Doing so makes his sister come to become just a tad more approachable but she still holds something of an underlying dislike for his brother’s relationship with his childhood friend who so obviously likes Kyou. Still, there’s no creepy brother-sister love thing going since the girl still punches his brother out on numerous occasions and – at one point – decides to walk away from home and her brother.
And this is my problem with Oreimo, she does come to appreciate the things her brother has done for her since revealing her secret but does she still have to slap him around? Still, this is but a minor blemish on an otherwise beautiful face since Oreimo doesn’t fall back on any clichés or turn to fanservice to keep things interesting. Instead, the series relies on great storytelling and an even greater sense of humor. The series is actually really funny without resorting to slapstick antics and, yes, even most of the characters are awesome.
Better yet are the OVA episodes that include an alternate ending that leads up to episodes where the likeable Kuroneko becomes a freshman in Kyou’s high school. Kyou could see how his friend could not fit in so he suggest she joins the Game Research club and ends up entering a game idea she herself designs. There’s a funny rivalry between Kuroneko and a girl named Sena Akagi who is a closet yaoi fan.
Oreimo is a comedic and endearing gem is beautifully written and funny enough that you will find yourself loving every second of it. As I mentioned, it never resorts to the familiar elements shows like this usually rely on and that alone makes this a series that does its own thing and does it well enough that you can’t help but appreciate what it has to offer. In other words, the Complete Box Set of Oreimo is definitely a Must Have for anyone who loves anime as much as the main character.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Kyou never quite got along with his beautiful sister, Kirino, until the day he collided with her and discovered the secret she tried hard to hide. Now, Kirino asks for her brother’s help to keep her otaku nature a secret from friends and family only to find herself becoming more involved in her hobby that she will not give up for anyone or anything. In the process, Kyou finds himself growing closer to his sister and her new otaku friends.
VIDEO QUALITY: A
Oreimo sports some of the most colorful and gorgeous animation to come from Aniplex and you’ll love the detailed backdrops that make familiar spots such as Akihabara come to life. The series looks amazing on DVD but would be perfect on Blu-ray so here’s hoping for a Blu-ray release soon.
AUDIO QUALITY: A+
The Japanese voice cast do not disappoint in the very least when it comes to some truly memorable and standout performances. Sorry, no English dub here but you won’t complain with Ayana Taketatsu and Yuichi Nakamura handing the role of Kirino and Kyou. Then there’s Satoru Kosaki’s lively score that fits in well with the opening theme song “irony” by ClariS. The fact that the series has 15 different closing theme songs (all great, by the way) is simply brilliant.
The Limited Edition set contains an awesome collectible 24-page booklet with character design, different covers and other artwork taken from magazine covers. It also includes a two-sided poster that’s downright cute and 16 postcards that feature artwork from the endings of all 16 episodes. These are definitely wonderful collectibles.
However, the best part is that there’s a third disc with four bonus episodes that were never aired on TV and episodes – revolving around Kuroneko as well as an alternate ending to the main series – are so worth watching. The second disc contains extras such as the textless opening animation but also all 16 textless closing animations as well along with some Aniplex trailers.
A touching and relevant nod to the otaku culture as well as a funny and beautiful story of two siblings accepting each another, The Limited Edition Complete Box Set of Oreimo is a delightful anime series that you can’t help but fall in love with from the very start. There are genuinely funny and endearing moments that make this series one you shouldn’t miss if you love anime as much as we do.
Review copy provided by Aniplex of America