Oreimo Vol 2 Review

Title: Oreimo
Genre: Comedy
Story/Artist: Tsukasa Fushimi/Sakura Ikeda
Publisher: ASCII Media Works (JP), Dark Horse (US)
Serialized in: Dengeki G’s Magazine

Kyosuke has started to come to terms with his sister Kirino’s surprising eroge hobby, accompanying her to an “off-kai,” an off-line meeting of other fans. Kyousuke even goes as far to try some of Kirino’s hand-selected sister eroge games. But while there’s plenty of brotherly and sisterly bonding thus far, there’s still one glaring problem: Kyosuke and Kirino’s father. How long can the sibling pair keep Kirino’s secret a secret from both family and friends?

Volume one ended with the unavoidable question: How would Kirino’s father react to his daughter’s hobby? It doesn’t take much to guess, and Kyousuke is left to deal with his father’s wrath and defending his sister’s right to happiness. There is no grey area with the interpretation the reader is supposed to have of the sibling’s father; he’s clearly “the bad guy.” The fallout between father and son was a bit more violent than I expected though, along with the translation making liberal use of curse words. It’s a little bit jarring; though I’m not sure of the original tone in Japanese, more than a few curse words are sprinkled throughout the volume, which occasionally pulled me out of the story. Thankfully, a fan letter at the end of the volume addresses some of translation style issues, and Dark Horse seems open to reader suggestions.

As Kyousuke and his father work towards a middle-ground in understanding Kirino, Kirino still tries to get comfortable sharing her hobby—and her brother—with others. When a few girls from school stop by, the last thing Kirino wants is for them to find out about her hobby. She demands Kyousuke stay in his room, but things go awry with the arrival of a mysterious package in the mail. The series doesn’t hesitate to have at least one blatantly fanservice Kirino moment per volume, with Kirino’s shirt and skirt flying up as she trips over her befuddled brother. Kyousuke is quick to assure Kirino’s friend Ayase that, despite their compromising position, there’s no romance between the two.

It’s those fanservice moments like these remind me that the series treads that very thin line of “will they/won’t they?” The series hasn’t hit that angle particularly hard just yet, but the undercurrent is there. It’s hard not to feel at least a little uncomfortable if that’s not your thing; something about the fact that the series very blatantly teases the prospect of incest is more bothersome than if the reader knew the series went in a romantic direction. Instead it sometimes feels like Kirino is reduced to a taboo, raving about her hobbies and the occasional fanservice shot. What’s also interesting here is that while Kyousuke has pondered the fact that his sister is indeed “cute,” he’s yet to have any romantic pull towards Kirino. At this point any brother-sister fanservice feels like it has no context in Kirino and Kyousuke’s actual relationship as it stands.

Overall, Kirino and Kyousuke are likeable enough characters in a decent series, but I’m still hesitant on the brother and sister angle. Perhaps I’m reading Oreimo for the wrong reasons, but the story pulls me back in with the focus on Kirino’s balancing act between being a rabid otaku and a normal high school girl. Whether she can be both at once to the same people, and whether or not the support of her brother will be enough to carry her through makes the story interesting enough to casually pick up.

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Manjiorin is 26 years old and not nearly as cool as the characters she reads about in manga, unless they hold desk jobs and try to discreetly read manga at work. She prefers seinen manga of the bloody variety (yay Berserk and Blade of the Immortal) but d'aww's and baww's at Kimi ni Todoke. Her boringly sporadic thoughts are on Twitter.

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