Oreimo – 6

Wow – that was a serious change of pace, to say the least. After the intense emotion and drama of the last few episodes, this one focuses almost entirely on Kyousuke and his visit to Manami’s (crazy) family – grandparents, dad and little brother. It made a welcome change and a nice break from Kirino’s obnoxious and boorish behavior.

Um – that’s a shamisen, Kid…

We’ve had a few hints in the first five episodes that Manami was a classic osananajimi, but this week we learn the depth of that back story. She and Kyou are clearly close and have been since they were very young kids, with lots of sleepovers. He’s welcomed warmly by the rest of her family, though there are hints that it’s been a while. Grandpa is a bit of a nut job, Grandma is – well, she’s Grandma, Otouto is a genki middle-schooler and we don’t see much of Dad. They run a small sweets shop and Kyou agrees to stay over and help them prep for Halloween. What follows is a delightfully low-key and wistfully humorous episode that feels like it was part of another series as we get to know the Tamura family.

The one thing all the Tamuras seem to agree on is that Kyousuke and Manami should be together. The grandparents actively try to push them together, Grandpa even putting their futons in the same room. And it’s clear in Manami’s tone that even when she’s teasing, she’s serious – she has it bad for Kyou. For his part he pretty much pleads the fifth other than jokingly suggesting they bathe together – only to have her up the ante by agreeing. How much of his cluelessness is real and how much an act is unclear at this point – he may very honestly view her as no more than a friend, though his did tell his classmate that he’d never let another guy date her.

What of Kirino? Just a cameo, really – showing her delight in receiving a body pillow from her favorite Mahou Shoujo series and, more importantly, her jealous pique that Kyousuke decided to spend the night with Manami. As for Ayase and the otaku gang, not a mention. As I said, this felt like a different show – but it totally worked for me. Some series can pull off this kind of tonal shift seamlessly and some can’t – and this was pretty seamless. I loved the conflict-driven firepower of eps 1-5 but they were incredibly intense for what’s nominally a comedy, so this was a welcome change. Kyousuke is the far more sympathetic of the two leads, and it was vital to show him in Kirino’s absence, when every move he makes isn’t dictated by her personal dramas. He needed backstory, and this was a great start.

My last thought here is this – it was really striking just how much more appreciated Kyousuke was in the Tamura’s home than in his own. It’s no wonder he felt so comfortable there, even if he wasn’t always happy being the center of attention.

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