I’m not even going to bother referring to this as the “TV End” or some other such euphemism, because it really wasn’t an ending of any kind and frankly, made no attempt to be anything much different from a standard episode. I was expecting something more along the lines of the first season, where we had a “Good End” and a “True End” but this one isn’t even going to go through the motions until the bonus episodes are streamed in August (the 18th, to be precise).
I’ve had a lot of people throw a lot of theories at me about just where I went wrong with Oreimo, or where it went wrong itself. Some of them make more sense to me than others – I’ll admit that I’ve also noticed the trend that LN adaptations tend to severely run out of steam in the second half of their run. I’m still convinced that there was something to this show in the beginning that’s since been lost, and it’s not simply a matter of me being crazy.
But you know, in the end (in a matter of speaking) I’ve decided the answer is a whole lot simpler, for me at least. As the last few eps have spiraled into the twilight zone and the comments on my posts here have gotten more colorful, I remembered an interesting phenomenon about the first season that I’d forgotten. In the places I followed commentary on that season (mostly Animesuki) my opinion of an episode almost always ran counter to the majority opinion of that audience (which, crucially, is probably a lot closer to the core audience for Oreimo than the readers of this site are). If I loved it, they were lukewarm. If I was lukewarm, they loved it (I can’t honestly say there were any eps I hated – which seems hard to believe now).
So what does all that matter? In effect, I think, there were always two audiences for Oreimo – much more cleanly split than is the case with most series. And, plain and simply, the other side won. All the elements of the show my team liked were downplayed or ignored, and the stuff that drove me crazy took over completely. So you have a final stretch of episodes heavily featuring the likes of Ayase. You have lame last-minute attempts to justify Kirino and Ayase’s abhorrent behavior over the entire series. You have an overdose of moe pandering, and fetishizing Kirino’s body. You have almost no Kuroneko or Manami or Saori or the club, and you have Kyousuke turning into the worst exemplification of the spineless male lead imaginable. And you have a tacit (and probably not so tacit – check back in 7 weeks) acknowledgement that incest is wincest – A-OK!
Viewed that way, Oreimo sort of begins to make sense for me. I certainly can’t explain how the show I liked so much became what it is now any other way. Last week’s episode was the aforementioned attempt to deify Ayase, who’s been practically omnipresent of late. It was utterly preposterous in every way, and sexist as hell too. And this week we have an extended flashback sequence justifying Kirino’s systematic emasculation of Kyousuke and vindicating her attraction to him. It’s hard to escape the S & M element of their relationship, which I suppose has been present all along but not quite so disturbing as it is now. If there’s a takeaway from watching these scenes of the two of them as pre-teens, it’s that when Kyousuke’s balls dropped they dropped clean off.
I’m certainly going to watch the finale threesome of episodes, both because I’m 30 eps invested at this point and because I retain a grim curiosity about just how horrifying they’re going to be. But in the upside-down world Oreimo has become I’m certainly not looking for any common sense or human decency, because those appear to have been banished permanently (at least from Chiba). There was one moment in the “final” episode 13 that made me feel for a flash some of the sensitivity and empathy I saw in the first season – when Ayase railed about how gross otaku were, and the sheer hypocrisy of Kirino’s life was revealed. But it was like that one good golf shot you hit on the 18th hole while shooting 108 – enough to make you believe every time could be like that, a belief that’s crushed by hard reality the next time you play. That Oreimo doesn’t exist anymore, but I still don’t buy the argument that it never did.