Oreimo – 8

Wow, were the long knives ever out for this episode. A large portion of the audience seemed to turn on Oreimo after this one, but as usual I’m going to be a contrarian and say it was pretty damn good.

Taking a page from “Bakuman” a good chunk of the episode was given over to the formative stages of Kirino’s LN “My City” being turned into an anime. Maybe anime is like sausage and laws – no one should have to see them being made – but I rather enjoyed it. The turtle-necked writer pissed me off (he was supposed to), the director appeared to be a creative cipher, and lots of dirt was spilled on just why a one-volume novel by a middle-schooler was being adapted in the first place. I thought the scenes in the conference room – both the first with Kirino and the second with Kyousuke – were very effective. Naturally when Kirno literally worked herself sick Kyou took it upon himself to take her place in the pre-production meeting and defend her interests.

For all that, there was a fundamental problem with the premise here, and to their credit the writers – through the person of Kuroneko – chose to face it head-on rather than ignore it. It really is blatantly unfair that a 14 year-old girl’s novel – by all accounts a rather shallow and silly one – should be published at all, never mind turned into an anime while so many struggling artist with real talent can’t get a sniff of success. The screenwriter feels it, Kuroneko feels it, and yes – Kyou feels it as well. All of them are jealous of her in their way. The writer shows it by trying to change all of her ideas, Kuroneko just blurts out what she thinks, but what of Kyousuke? He says he “hates” Kirino – to himself, of course – but all he says publicly about why he keeps helping her despite her behavior is “I’m her brother”.

That’s the elephant in the room this series has been ignoring, that question – and it’s fitting that Kuroneko asked it, as she was the shining star of the episode. She exploded a massive truth bomb on everyone, not least herself – exposing all their jealousies and resentments, even admitting the novel was silly and boring. It was she who finally asked the question the audience has been asking – “Why the hell do you keep doing it, Kyousuke?” And in the he has no answer except the brother cop-out – for now.

Truth bomb!

Kirino is truly one of the more maddening characters in recent anime memory. She’s absolutely talented and she works her ass off to accomplish what she has, but there’s no question she’s been lucky too – but the kicker is the brutal way she treats others, especially Kyousuke. At the close of the episode she tells Kyou that the next life counseling session will be the last – and so the ep ends on a rather ominous note. Naturally he asked Saori and Kuroneko not to say anything about the second meeting – but whether her agent Fate would have told her, we can’t yet say. The implications of her statement are unclear, but the implications of the episode itself are that some sort of reckoning is coming. Isn’t that we’ve all been asking for? Kyou admitted his resentment to himself, at least, and the first step is admitting you have a problem. Kuroneko, OTOH, had no problem voicing her feelings – she was positively GAR. It was fascinating that Saori clammed up at the meetings but Kuroneko had lots to say. She’s more or less taken on the role of the audience proxy here – asking the questions and voicing opinions on our behalf. The only thing she leaves unclear is what her feelings about Kyousuke are. Is she jealous of Kirino for having such a loyal brother, or is she starting to fall for him, just a little? That last look on the train is sphinx-like and full of mystery.

We may find out more about that mystery next week, but the biggest looming question remains in Kyou’s hands: just what is the real answer he’s covering up with “Because I’m her brother”?

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