The thing with OreImo has always been that its cast is about half-composed of genuinely likable characters and half-composed of characters that make you sick to your stomach. Since it is a character-driven show, this means that the quality of any given episode is incredibly variable depending on which character gets the most screentime. An episode about Kirino or Ayase can range anywhere from “average LN fare” to “absolute travesty”, an episode about Manami can typically be described as “an episode”, and an episode about Kuroneko or Saori ranges from “enjoyable” to “uncharacteristically great”. And anytime the dad makes an appearance, I remember he is voiced by Fumihiko Tachiki (Gendo Ikari, Kaiji Narrator) and promptly fall out of my chair.
It is important to note that these character distinctions are indisputable FACTS and anyone who disagrees is CLEARLY misguided and an embarrassment of a human being. It would be preposterous to assume that they are merely my individual opinion and that alternative viewpoints are possible.
So what has the second season given us so far? Well, we’ve gotten an “average LN fare” Kirino episode, an “absolute travesty” of an Ayase episode, and an “extremely solid” Saori episode. The first episode was pretty inoffensive as a passable reintroduction to the premise (as well as a reminder of how annoying Kirino can get), but it was the second and third that got a reaction out of me.
Episode 2 was painful to watch, because it reiterated the reason I can’t stand Ayase – she brings out the worst in all the other characters, especially Kyousuke. This episode was also the exemplification of my biggest problem with the series – that while a lot of OreImo’s descent into uncomfortably skeevy territory is played for laughs, I can’t help but feel an air of sincerity about it, as though it’s patting its characters on the back while it’s slapping them on the wrist. (I do admit, though, that the scene at the end where Ayase went the yandere route knocked a legitimate guffaw out of me)
Episode 3, on the other hand, was a very satisfying reminder that the reason I do like OreImo despite its flaws is that its blanket reinforcement of otaku culture comes with a celebration of the good sides of the culture as well as the bad. It was a joy to watch the anime club come together and share the hobby that they love – if OreImo was about Saori’s circle of friends (both the old anime club and the new) rather than Kirino’s, it would have been a much better show on the whole. While Kuroneko is my favorite character overall, it’s Saori who tends to provide the setup for the series’ best episodes. Also, fun fact: Saori’s real last name is Makishima, and her sister’s chuuni friend is Shinya. Will we be seeing an Akane in the series anytime soon?
As it is, though, OreImo is as full of ups and downs as it’s always been, but it still manages to rise above the rest of the light novel crowd by making the ups good – and frequent – enough to be worth sitting through the downs.
…I suppose I should also thank it for starting a naming trend that makes it incredibly easy to determine which anime to avoid by simply staying away from anything with an absurdly long title.