“Onī-chan dakedo Ai sae Areba Kankei Nai
yo ne!” or Oni-Ai as it will be
called from now on, is an anime that spends a lot of time doing nothing. I would argue that most harem anime do this,
because without maintaining the status quo, one of the harem ladies might
leave, but none do it with such flair as this anime does. Keep in mind that I do not mean this in any
positive manner. The very fact that the
anime does its very best to do nothing while seeming to do something is at best
a lack of any meaningful thought in the anime, or worse, active contempt for
its audience and how it exploits it with cheap titillation and poor slackstick
Most of Oni-Ai takes place
in the student dorm that the cast lives in.
Naturally it’s a co-ed dorm so we have the healthy and equal ratio of 4
girls to 1 boy [later a 5th cast member is added] and all of said
girls are interested in what the boy has packing below the belt. The twist, and I say twist quite liberally,
is that one of the girls is his sister, with whom he hasn’t lived with for many
years. In that time she developed a
brother complex and is just as interested in him romantically as any of the
other girls. This leads to the episodes
being peppered with her attempts to woo him and his tepid and not at all firm
attempts to dissuade her.
The other cast members include, a
girl from the main character’s childhood, with whom he is great friends with
and to her despair, appears to think of her not as a woman as she wishes him to
do, but simply a friend who’s a girl. We
have a girl from a rich background, who was entranced by the main character
because he didn’t treat her differently because of her looks or money, a
bisexual female student council president who despite being very sexually
aggressive towards the MC, is implied to be a virgin and finally a young girl
who’s family the MC lived with for a time.
She is taken on as the dorm manager because I suppose the cast needed a
loli to make sure they hit every trope.
If I am to praise anything about
this series, it is that the episodes with their attempts at characterization,
are kept quite organized. There is a
flashback or scene explaining why they like him, and what his relationship has
been to them as they’ve grown up. This
is actually tied in quite well with whatever ‘zany’ plotline is going on in the
background, such as maybe seeing a ghost, or the MC getting sick and the girls
fighting over who is going to take care of him.
It’s unfortunate, because this structure would actually do the series
some good if there was any kind of writing worth imparting on the viewer.
Of course though, this is Siscon
September and so we must focus on the relationship between the siblings. The sister, Akiko, seems to have the brunt of
the romantic interest when it comes to her and the main character, Akito. While Akito humours his sister, the show
makes it very clear that he is not interested in his little sister. While this sanity can be appreciated, the
fact that Akiko doesn’t stop persisting in every episode, makes for a very dull
and repetitive shtick that never fails to make you yawn as you work your way
through the story.
What we see though, going further
into the story, is that Akito writes a manga of sorts that pairs two siblings
as romantic interests and that Akiko is a fan of them. Akito’s editor finds out that he actually has
a sister and fears that he might have a sister complex, something that she
tries to fix in ‘hilarious’ ways.
However this entire arc seems to have been created so that the author
can tell people that this sibling love is ok as long as it remains fiction
rather than reality, this thought being parroted by Akito as he explains
himself to the editor. As this seems to
be the only reason for its existence, this arc fails to go anywhere just as so
many of this anime’s arcs do.
The reason that I harp on this ‘arc
that goes nowhere’ idea is that, to me, it is exactly that which so many anime
with multiple potential romantic options go.
By failing to progress anywhere with any of the characters in any
meaningful manner, one is able to keep the status quo. Without growth and confrontation, the authors
or series writers do not isolate any of the audience who cheers for one pairing
over another. By doing this though, we
also fail to see any development by any of the characters, because that would
risk upsetting the status quo and it all becomes so frustrating to watch. It becomes like that of a farce in which
nothing happens and nothing changes. It
is nothing but a pointless exercise in how long we can stretch out one gimmick
before it grows stale.
Oni-Ai is a series that
did nothing, whether this is better or worse than Oreimo’s do something
large but back out at the last minute remains a debate for another time. Oreimo had convictions but failed to
stand up for them, Oni-Ai has nothing but a gimmick played for cheap
laughs for far too long. It is a
pointless affair, who’s only memorable trait is that one sibling loves her
brother and that just isn’t enough to make a good anime. Oni-Ai cannot be called a piece of
entertainment, it is a nothingness masking as a terrible TV show.