All of us in the anime community know the kind of controversial questions that surround Oreimo. They’re all over the place, hiding in the corners of Reddit’s r/anime, and no doubt in other corners where the darkness dwells.
Though, don’t go too deep – at least if you value your eyesight…
Before reading – if you like – you can have a look at my Oreimo Review
At the very core, Oreimo explores the romantic relationship between brother and sister.
Taken alone, this is a controversial issue, if not an outright immoral one. But Oreimo is not exclusively that, nor does it reach heights that might be considered objectively unhealthy. Yet, neither is it a well-rounded, balanced argument for relationships of that kind – instead it resides somewhere in the center, pulling from both extremes, and in many respects, failing to find a resolution to satisfy anyone at all.
Airing the Spring of 2017, we are offered a telling of… something similar, Eromanga Sensei. It’s written by Tsukasa Fushimi, the author that brought us Oreimo, and it deals with many of the same themes that Oreimo did. If fact, it is similar in an astounding amount of ways – not that this itself detracts from Eromanga Sensei, however, it hands us a baseline we are familiar with, one we can handle without being burnt too badly – possibly, it lowers expectations too. Which in the right moment could serve as a miracle.
From the first three episodes of Eromanga Sensei, the themes are mostly transparent, as are the aspects that set it apart from Oreimo. The major one being that of characters. Kirino, and Sagiri especially. They are at opposite ends of the scale. Kirino being, abrasive… even offensive, (a Tsundere to be archetypal.) Whereas, Sagiri is shy and introverted. (Dandere.) Naturally, I’m predisposed to like Sagiri that much more. Not simply because she is cuter, but because I think – in this particular situation – it allows for a more dynamic narrative, with more to uncover as the plot progresses. Rather than the often ambiguous feelings that Kirino perpetually expressed.
Are the themes Oreimo and Eromanga Sensei presents unacceptable to be viewed as entertainment? Where does the limit lie? Should there be one at all, considering that this is such an artistic, creative medium?
At the centre of the argument, there’s one big word… incest.
Obviously, this is anime, and it is entirely fictional. That being said, incestuous relationships are a thing in the real world (I know… I know WHAT’S THAT!), it would be ignorant to believe otherwise. And, I assume the issue is much like an iceberg – something so frowned upon would have to be. Such a revelation… well, it would be destroying to the social structure surrounding any person.
It’s all about influence. From many, violent video games have always been accused of inciting violence in the real world, when this has been proven time and time again to not be the case. Does that apply to anime, and other forms of media? Yes, on some level, it absolutely does. Is watching Oreimo going to promote relationships of that kind? Absolutely not. It would be absurd for anyone to believe so.
People rebel against things they do not like. It’s far easier than spending time trying to understand them.
For an issue or problem to be dealt with, it first has to be understood, broken down into its constituent parts, and examined. Why does it exist? What does it mean? How is it potentially unhealthy? Of course, Oreimo doesn’t attempt this. not at all. It exists for entertainment purposes only.
Then again, it would be arrogant to believe things inherently require some form of intellectual or academic achievement to be ‘enjoyed’. Although, when dealing with such a fragile matter, a certain amount might be beneficial, if for nothing more than to serve as a precursor to that so-important understanding, and to avoid misconception.
You’d be right in saying that Oreimo doesn’t actively challenge our judgements and hasty preconceptions towards these conundrums. Yet, it reveals them – leaving such things open to interpretation. Maybe this idea is the basis of Oreimo and Eromanga Sensei. Or maybe the reservations they have are there only for practical, cautious reasons.
After all, the original author of the two, Tsukasa Fushimi, was prohibited from letting Oreimo continue in line with his vision due to censorship from his publishers. Was this the correct call to make? No… I don’t believe so. Censorship – especially on artistic content – only serves to make such matters far more obscure and feared. After all, it is fear that leads to hate. Recent world events have shown that to be true. And hate is a mightily powerful thing.
Why does oreimo have such a reputation?
Well, it ultimately it is a very ‘borderline’ show within anime. It brings into the light things that are generally regarded as very underground, private, and downright ostracised by society. This is not a negative thing taken alone. It’s how the issues are dealt with that matter.
Oreimo is not serious, it is a comedy. It’s glorified, and romantacised as many anime of its kind also are – Eromanga Sensei included. A serious subject handled the very opposite way is not necessarily a problem. A serious subject mishandled and misrepresented is. Oreimo doesn’t quite do that. Maybe this was the very thing that was feared when the censorship occurred. Publishers can’t predict how people are going to react to certain questionable themes, especially if they are not handled in a balanced, intelligent manner, which provide insight and resolutions to the situations and conflicts that arise. Oreimo is shallow in this sense, but far from egregious.
Being controversial itself is also a talking point. Often, things are controversial for the sake of being controversial – in an attempt to attract a wider audience; essentially a morally redundant marketing strategy. Oreimo isn’t that. It is sincere with what it is. Granted, it is nowhere near as good as it could be, but that fact is not down to its themes and content, only the way it is executed and the lack of depth in certain areas – something which I feel is the negative consequence of that censorship.
Another thing of note, is the state of the anime community itself – which I personally regard to be needlessly toxic. Of course, this is a generalisation, and it can’t be applied to every community within it. But nevertheless, anime is a medium. It is wide-ranging and diverse. It is a certainty there will be aspects and genres that will not be to one’s liking, just as there are in all other mediums. Though, regarding anime – somehow – when something isn’t personally accepted as moral, or as agreeable – it is often taken as an intrinsic attack on what motivates that particular person. When in fact, it simply comes down to subjective preferences, as it does with all other areas of life.
Eromanga Sensei – Looking Forward
Will Eromanga Sensei garner the same reputation that Oreimo has? Maybe… people like to jump on the bandwagon and hate as a collective – like a pandemic spreading with mostly unsubstantiated claims and baseless arguments. (we saw this recently with Mass Effect: Andromeda) When the fact of the matter is rather simple: if the product is not to your liking, do not consume it. This is s universal notion, one people seem to overlook.
Do I think Eromanga Sensei is ‘good?’ Maybe… having watched the three episodes that have aired at the time of writing this. Do I think it’s better than Oreimo? At the moment, it’s hard to say. I think it has far more promise, more going for it early on. Though, in my opinion, as Oreimo advanced, it worsened, ditching some of its attributes.
Eromanga’s premise is far from original… very far from. I’m unsure as to what detail it might explore the themes Oreimo did. Those who have read the light novels might know. Maybe it goes in a completely different direction compared to Oreimo, though, that’s something I doubt. I’m inclined to believe it will stick within the same lines, after all, for the few who liked Oreimo, it will get them watching. For those that didn’t, I suspect it won’t even be considered.
The bottom line
Anime is a very contrary medium. And, to the general public who do not consume it at a regular rate, a very controversial one. Shows like Oreimo, are widely seen as ‘perverted’ by those outside of the community, and even by some within. Yet, it is a lack of understanding regarding the medium that leads to these hasty judgments.
Oreimo is not serious, neither is Eromanga Sensei. It would be ignorant to believe they are representative of how anime deals with serious matters. Look at Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket, American Beauty, Fight Club – all of which are films that deal with very serious matters using a humours tone. Though, it would also be negligent to group, or even mention Oreimo with such cult classics. Yet, they can be used as examples to understand such matters – even if on a truly different level. Because if anything is misrepresented, it is the medium of anime as a whole. Due to what makes it into the public light. It is media that taints the reputation, as it does many things. As with video games, those that are uninformed and uninitiated on the subject, only see the negative side. It is from this where false conclusions are formed. And from where shows like Oreimo are seen as the scourge of the industry.
It is entertainment, and it is to be enjoyed. Controversy or not.
Have any thoughts on the matter?
Thanks for reading, as always!
-Chris (Follow me on Twitter and consider supporting Peach’s Almanac on Patreon!)