2 CommentsAnime Analysis, Editorials / By Inushinde /

Eromanga-sensei Review: Not Just a Town in Australia

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Eromanga-sensei is a show that I didn’t have high hopes for. I expected it to follow a little too closely in its more well known sibling’s footsteps, without carving a strong identity of its own. While it does carve out the core of what I think is ultimately a better identity, my hopes were pretty much met at the baseline. But that core is well worth discussing, because it does some surprisingly good stuff with the Masamune/Sagiri bond that’s offset by just not doing enough with it.

It’s difficult to write about something that involve an unconventional , totally-not-blood-related sibling bond like Eromanga-sensei without drawing blatant comparisons to Oreimo, that other show about an unconventional, totally-not-blood-related sibling bond adapted from a light novel by the same author. So I’m just going to get it out of my system and explain why Eromanga-sensei accomplishes what it set out to do better than Oreimo did at the same point.

In all, I found the bond between Sagiri and Masamune to be more palatable than that between Kirino and Kyousuke. The initial distance between the two feels like an organic progression of events resulting from the death of their parents, and almost total absorption into their respective hobbies to cope. Contrasted with Oreimo’s lazy typecasting of Kirino as a masochist siscon’s wet dream, it makes for a more sympathetic cast. Their hobbies are as much a crutch as they are a means of safe expression, and the show is just as much a celebration of their creativity as it is an indictment of using it as the sole avenue for emotional and social development.

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This absorption into their respective, occasionally overlapping spheres of otaku culture also provides the necessary context for their relationship to thaw—along with their flaws that occasionally slow the process. Being the only thing that she’s shown doing, drawing ecchi shit is an almost unhealthy obsession for Sagiri in a way that raises some red flags. I don’t know if this is intentional, or if it’s just my puritanical upbringing where 13 year old girls don’t tend to spend every waking moment drawing cartoon girls in varying states of undress, but the other characters’ concerned reactions provide enough of a foil to keep the show from feeling too skeevy. While the show goes to great lengths to make her passion somewhat endearing instead of just worrying (the unrelenting final episode showing her unfamiliarity with male anatomy is a prime example), it doesn’t try to distract from her peculiarity or overtly justify her behavior.

Izumi isn’t free from scrutiny either, being a teenage writer whose ambition far outstrips his ability. A few missteps aside, mostly to do with Masamune’s modest but still inexplicable popularity and Sagiri lapsing into flustered yelling, their flaws are pronounced and understandable enough (more in Masamune’s case than Sagiri’s) that they’re likable characters. I could actually see them doing, and even forgive them for, the stupid, tactless shit that made Kyousuke and Kirino in Oreimo such an irritation to watch after the first series. They feel way more like slightly maladjusted kids with zealous passions, rather than characters whose actions are guided by an omnipotent third party that creates a story riddled with bizarrely pointless interpersonal conflict.

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Unfortunately, most of this dynamic is just (quite good) subtext, and the show doesn’t do anything all that substantial with it. The genuine warmth of Sagiri and Masamune’s relationship, more often than is appropriate (i.e. more than zero times), feels undercut by the show’s insistence on building pseudo-incestuous overtones, or creating conflicts between Masamune and other authors that not-so-secretly want his sister-lovin’ dick that ultimately lead to him not-so-secretly proclaiming his love for Sagiri. These vignettes by themselves are inoffensive fluff, but when taken as a whole, the show’s insistence on them leaves the core of Masamune and Sagiri’s relationship feeling malnourished and underexplored, viewing it almost entirely through Masamune’s interactions with the other characters.

I guess ultimately, the highest praise I can give Eromanga-sensei is that it’s a competent show. The visual direction is clever and charming, especially when it comes to the OP and EDs, and it never has pretentions toward being anything more than a goofy show for those that wanted more of the good Oreimo. Even at its most disconcerting, it doesn’t go all in enough to be totally worrying. Despite my misgivings and general squeamishness, I found it hard not to enjoy Eromanga-sensei’s flashy ways. I guess that’s why I’m broke and it’s so paid.

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2 Comments

  1. blarg
    Posted July 3, 2017 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    After the way oreimo went down I doubt I will ever watch/read anything having to do with the Author again. Perhaps it will be my loss in the future, but I mostly doubt it.

    • Inushinde
      Posted July 4, 2017 at 2:59 am | Permalink

      I can’t say I blame you, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that was also the fate of Eromanga-sensei.

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