We have arrived at the end of another season of Oreimo, and there is still much work to be done tying up the loose ends in the last three episodes. Episode 11 opens up with the parents being worried about Kyosuke and Kirino’s bizarre behavior towards each other (and who could blame them?). It was then decided that Kyosuke needed to move away for a while to focus on passing his mock exam with the highest grade possible. Kirino and friends shower Kyosuke with their support. The episode had some humorous high points with clueless Kanako still trying to figure things out about Kyosuke and Kirino, while Kuroneko has an all-out brawl over with Ayase over Kyosuke’s attention.
The majority of Episode 12 was filled with harem-style hijinks, which were finally settled when Ayase volunteered to take care of Kyosuke during his stay away at his new apartment. Eventually the truth comes out about her feelings for Kyosuke and the episode ends in a very touching scene that removes any and all apprehensions that the series will devolve into harem anime tripe.
Episode 13 is dedicated entirely to Kirino and Kyosuke and can be best described as a prequel to the events of the first episode. In flashbacks, Kirino talks about her absolute devotion to her older brother, the one who was simply “great at everything”. But, as time went on, Kyosuke had to move on with his life and “put away childish things”, leaving Kirino trailing behind him. She responded with fierce determination to better herself and win the respect of her aloof brother, but then everything seemed in vain when she found out how increasingly unmotivated her older brother was becoming in his daily activities. His maturing attitude of “settling down” was the point of contention that drove Kirino to loathe the young man who replaced the cool older brother she once knew and loved. She continued to drive herself harder to excel in her daily activities in spite of Kyosuke, but her heart remained unfulfilled. It was then that she stumbled upon manga and anime and the escapist fantasies it promised her – it was her only way to channel her sibling love into something a bit more acceptable. She became enthralled with little sister eroge and similar genres and it marked the beginning of her secret life as an otaku. She concludes her tale by saying that since the day she confided to Kyosuke about her closet hobbies, she has grown closer to him and is learning to appreciate his brotherly love and support in spite of his painful “mediocrity”
Season Two of Oreimo pretty much met the kind of expectations I had at the onset of watching it. Every character had a significant amount of development and started really interacting with each other in very amusing ways. Although the whole setup of Kyosuke and the girls has the appearance of life-imitating-eroge, it is clear that the real central figure is still Kirino. All of the new people that entered Kyosuke’s life were through his little sister, and it is because of that that he strives so hard to be the supportive older brother he always has been.
One of the other things that I really appreciated about the series so far is that they don’t pull any punches when it comes to relationship-building. This isn’t another otaku escapism where you can have your cake and eat it too; Kyosuke is determined to find the one mate for his heart to belong to and he isn’t afraid to show that singular honesty to all the ladies in his life that are vying for him. Some hearts may be broken, but he makes no illusion of leading anyone astray. As a character, Kyosuke has proven to show a lot more self-respect and maturity than most other male protagonists would in his position and yet he does it with gentleness and compassion because he knows these friends are important to his little sister, just as much as they are to him. Just as Kuroneko hopes to maintain a balanced relationship of love and friendship between her, Kyosuke and Kirino, Kyosuke also wants what is best for everyone around him, and relies on his honesty and good nature to bring people together.
Another point I enjoyed about Oreimo was the depth they tried to give to most of the characters, which really sets it apart from other romantic comedies of a similar vein. It allows viewers like me to enjoy the show on different levels and to really care about the character’s feelings as they interact with one another. This wasn’t a show meant to be built on cheap laughs or excessive use of tropes. Instead, they do a fairly good job balancing the comedy with an acceptable level of drama that keeps up the tension from episode to episode.
Oreimo has its share of problems, of course. The music and visuals of the anime were not really stellar; they were a bit bland and not particularly memorable. There were also moments in the story that really could have been resolved in less time than what was presented. The looseness of the storyline suggests to me that the actual Oreimo story may be nearing its end, and that the events had to be artificially lengthened to make for more room in a third season or more.
Overall, the anime was successful for the modest goals it set out to accomplish. Fans of the first season and/or the series in general will definitely be sated, at least until the upcoming OVAs or a third season comes out.
My Score: 8.00/10.00