Oreimo – 14

Kuroneko’s campaign for “Best Female Character” of the last year picks up steam with the third “True End” episode of Oreimo this week. I have absolutely no idea how Kyousuke has the will power (and/or density) to resist her – I swear, every time she does that face-down pose on his bed I need a cold shower. In Kirino’s absence she’s effectively become the main character of the show, and it’s become a totally different show. Whether that’s good or bad depends, I guess, on your point-of-view – but I’m finding these extra eps thoroughly entertaining.

The premise this week is that the two new girls in the club are assigned to create a game for an upcoming competition, with the idea being to promote teamwork between the two of them. Despite Kyou’s surprisingly bold suggestion that they write an eroge – and his offer to help write the sex scenes (revealing how he got the “Sexual-harassment Sempai” moniker referenced by Kuroneko in the commentaries) – it ends up being a competition between Kuroneko’s idea and Akagi’s idea, with a majority vote deciding. Kuroneko talks about Kirino and her advice about writing what she loves (“If they’re going to accuse this of being a masturbatory work, then I’ll show them one hell of a masturbation scene!”). When Akagi’s effort turns out to be a hard-gay RPG with the male club members as characters, it’s not surprisingly a unanimous vote for Kuroneko’s depressing novel game and Akagi storms out of the club in a hissy fit.  Eventually she comes back as Kuroneko swallows her pride and begs her to debug the game (in the weakest scene of the ep) and the effort ends up winning the “Best Shitty Game” award at the competition.

Really, though, that’s all an excuse for some pretty hilarious dialogue with Akagi – who really is crazy – and a chance to see Kyou and Kuroneko get ever closer as he acts as her game tester. The scene in his bedroom is pretty brilliant – Kuroneko – via Kana Hanazawa – has a way of delivering dialogue that’s like nobody I’ve seen in anime. A sort of sultry, snarky, purr that’s somehow both insecure and cocky at the same time. So many great lines – “Let’s play a game together, Nii-san!”. “I like you as much as your sister does.” As if all that weren’t enough, she invites Kyou to rub her feet and lie next to her on the bed. And still – either from strength of character or denseness, he resists.

I almost feel sorry for Kirino in absentia – she’s shunted off to America, almost forgotten as everyone else gets on with their lives. In reality, the rest of them are really better in her absence in most ways – Kyousuke is less neurotic and insecure, Kuroneko more confident and less combative. Most importantly he’s free to pursue whatever his romantic intentions are – be they Kuroneko or Manami – without the pointless distraction of a brocon imouto. Not that we have any indication that he’s going to actually do that – though there’s no question that he’s growing closer to Kuroneko with each episode. Ironically it may be that it will take Kirino’s return to the scene to be the catalyst forcing him to a decision. With one episode left, I can only assume she will return – and there’s an awful lot left to sort out once she does.

Of note, it was announced today that Kuroneko will be starring in a spinoff manga – hardly a surprise, given that she’s the runaway most popular character. It’s also worth noting that the BD/DVD sales for this show continue to be off the charts, so it seems almost unimaginable to me that there won’t be some sort of follow-up to this – a second season or series of OVAs, maybe even an adaptation of the spinoff manga eventually. I hope so – I’ve grown attached to these characters, especially Kuroneko and Kyousuke, and I’d like to see a lot more of their teenaged years.

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