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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Oreimo S2 Ep 13:

Episode 13:  The last episode of Oreimo for now, until the August finale, decides to move backwards in time instead of forward.  This time we see the story from Kirino's eyes, starting from when she could barely walk and moving all the way back up to the present in one swift narrative stroke.  A lot of things that could be inferred from previous episodes are stated outright here -- the reason she got into eroge is because she wanted to recreate the happy relationship she had with her brother as children, after being told that it was creepy to love her brother by Manami, the reverse truth presented in eroge where sibling love of all types is celebrated was a great consolation to her.  Even if the world didn't accept her, there was a community that accepted her, people of like minds sufficiently strong to fund an entire industry, so she could walk forward with self confidence that there was nothing wrong with her once more.

When she was just a child, she loved her older brother for 'being capable of anything,' while still spending all his time with her.  It's different from the exceptional abilities of an adult compared to a kid, since the two are so far apart in terms of age and body type, it's nothing exceptional for an adult to be able to do things a child can't.  But for a sibling who is only slightly older than yourself to be capable of so much more than you truly is admirable.  Moreover, because you feel that you're not so far apart, you immediately want to catch up to them and be like them, the possibility of such an event is still within reach.  This kind of sibling relationship happens all the time, and it's a great reason to have children in pairs with close ages so that such miracles can sprout all across the world.  Soon, though, the older brother found more fun stuff to do than hang out with Kirino, and as it turned out, those things tended to be boring, normal, and simple.  The 'amazing' onii-chan of before that she wanted to surpass, in studies, in athletics, in artistic sense, withdrew from the competition saying none of it mattered in the first place, before she could beat him even once in any of those fields.  That was a very frustrating decision to her, because it meant her whole life up until this point had been a waste of time, as had been all of her efforts to improve herself, and all of her feelings for her brother had been a farce.  Cornered by the fact that her older brother had grown up before she did, she didn't know what to do with herself anymore, so all she could do is withdraw from their relationship entirely.  It would take years later, until the real story begins in episode one of the series, before she discovered that there were other, less visible traits to admire about her brother -- traits that he had developed and grown into in lieu of the visible traits she had admired as a kid.  Rather than running fast or tutoring others, he had become a brother full of patience, understanding, empathy, charisma, devotion and passion.  You can't see any of these traits on the surface, and since she'd 'given up' on her brother years ago, she never got to learn about any of them, except through the happy coincidence that her eroge hobby got her into trouble and he helped her out of her problems.  This second love, born of admiration for this seconds set of qualities, is very different from the first love.  Now she has a grown-up love for what makes a good grown up, rather than a child's love for what impresses a child.  Their relationship looks like it's never changed at all, that it's right back to square one, but in fact it's transformed entirely, from silver to pure shining gold.

Now that their entire past has been revealed, the stage is set for learning what will become of their future.  But of course, we have to wait months for that last question to be answered.  I'm just thankful the series will reach its conclusion, almost all anime series like this one just randomly end midway through and never return, leaving the audience in eternal befuddlement.  The fact that Oreimo will have a solid conclusion, even though it hasn't happened yet, makes it a much better series than comparable romantic comedies like Oreshura.  As lovely as it was seeing how the story got to 'Episode 1' in the first place and how Kirino felt all this time, it actually isn't very useful to us now, because it's obvious her feelings have changed since then, and she now is a totally different person than when the series began.  Since we aren't going to get Kirino's viewpoint about the things that have happened ever since Episode 1 of the series, there's still an air of mystery surrounding her concerning just what she wants from her brother Kyousuke now.  I bet the future has the answers to that, which makes me want to watch the final episodes all the more.  The past is no guide to the future, not in this case, so all it does is add to the tension and the cliffhanger nature of this ending, rather than wrapping anything up.  I feel bad for everyone with terminal diseases who will die in between now and September.  Can you imagine coming this far and never learning what will become of this legendary pair of siblings?  In any case, this episode yet again solidified the fact that this story is extremely deep, that the characters are all written by a master hand at psychology and the human heart, and that we are witnessing one of the best stories ever told unfold before our eyes.  Far from the second season being worse than the first, I think it's much better (though of course both rely on each other and would be nothing without each other). 

The first season was about the 'easy' things, making friends and succeeding at work.  But this season is about something much harder, and that's setting priorities.  When you have to choose between two good things, when good for one person means ill for someone else, life becomes much thornier, and what people then do is much more interesting than before.  This entire season has been about people in conflict, making hard decisions, that always end up hurting someone. But they are still trying their best, to be good people, and find happiness in the end.  Just like how Kirino grew up thinking a brother could be amazing just for energetically running around all the time, but eventually learned that the calmness to find satisfaction in life without running around was the genuinely superior trait, season 2 of Oreimo shows that coming to terms with what you really care about in life is an even more important struggle than winning a sports meet, making a million dollars, or becoming popular.  Everyone could learn a lot from Oreimo.

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