I really loved this episode! I felt it more than made up for the weirdness of last week by essentially pretending it never happened. Episode 8 almost seems like it exists in some bizarre alternative universe. With no references to Kirino’s novel or anime, this episode is back to basics and more down to Earth – which is where I like my Ore no Imouto! I find the show most enjoyable when Kirino’s otaku exploits are closer to home – it’s much easier to relate to her fangasming over h-games and doujinshi than to her trying to advise an anime adaptation! And there was lots of fangasming to witness this time around, as Kirino puts aside a day to spend at home with a new eroge! So we get to see the full lifecycle of a fanatical eroge player, from the sacred opening ceremony to the final erotic payload, with all the challenges and pleasures of navigating the routes that goes in-between. At each phase, Kirino’s maniacal enthusiasm blasted out of the screen infectiously. Some people might say it was wasteful to dedicate so much time to just Kirino playing an eroge, but I actually think it was an important piece of character development, because until now we’ve only really been told that Kirino loves H-games. But now, for the first time, the audience (and Kyousuke) can actually experience her passion. With a ‘yabai!’ count of over 4 million, this episode was indeed dangerous for Kirino. You almost have to wonder if she’s not as innocent as she says she is in her appreciation of these games.
But the thing that really made this episode hold my attention was its layers of irony. One of the characters in Kirino’s new game is virtually a mirror of herself, an insult-slinging little sister with a bitter temperament and a 100% tsun approach to older brothers. It was really funny seeing Kirino get frustrated with this character, especially when she started screaming at her monitor all the things us bro-sympathisers which Kyousuke would say to her. This irony partially evolved into a step forward for the Kyousuke/Kirino route, as Kirino, on some level starts to realise that she IS that character. And Kirino knows, like any strong otaku, that where there’s tsun, there’s inevitably dere! You might take the ending of the game to be a prophecy for Kirino and Kyousuke. On the flip-side, another ironic twist came from Kuroneko’s home life. While Kirino was in a world of 2D imouto fantasies, Kuroneko was actually spending the day with her adorable little sister (living the dream). Actually seeing Kuroneko’s home environment was really interesting, and kind of what I expected. Unlike Kirino, she is not particularly well-off, but she has a much warmer family life. But the thing that did surprise me was Saori! I had no idea she was hiding her Ojousama status with that cliche otaku getup. I have a newfound respect for her now. While others probably look down to her, she’s dressing down for the sake of making good otaku friends.
I heard a chunk of this episode was anime-original, and it did feel like that, but the writers did a good job in any case! After the weird pace of last episode, this was a welcome retreat, and really helped plant the dere seed in Kirino. It was also great to see more background of Saori and Kuroneko, and the friendship theme marginally woven through the episode was also good. Probably one of the strongest episodes yet.