Review: Oreimo Season 1 DVD

Release Date
Studio / Publisher
AIC Build / MVM Entertainment
18 (UK), PG-13 (JAP)
Language / Subtitles
Japanese / English
12 (+4)
Run Time
400 Minutes

Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai (My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute), commonly shortened to Oreimo, is the first season of the anime adaptation of the light novel series of the same name. A DVD release was made available in the US back in 2011, but a UK release of the series seemed like nothing more than a pipe dream prior to MVM’s reveal late last year through Amazon. As a big fan of the series, I was immediately hyped, despite the lack of a blu-ray version. This anime was produced by AIC Build (Date A Live, Haganai, and Love, Election and Chocolate) and directed by Hiroyuki Kanbe, who later went on to direct Ore, Twintails ni Narimasu. The second season of Oreimo, animated by A-1 Pictures, is due for release on DVD next month, again by MVM Entertainment.

It’s a shame no blu-ray offering is available, but this is the same for both the US and Australia; we should count ourselves lucky MVM opted to take the risk in licensing both seasons of this show for a UK DVD release. Oreimo, despite the 18 rating, is a remarkably heartwarming anime and it’s a shame the BBFC slapped such a harsh rating on the title, potentially furthering people’s misconceptions. Ignore any preconceptions you may have for this title, and give it a try for yourself, at least when it comes to the first season. It’s far from the perverted incestuous harem one would expect it to be; it’s an emotional journey of a brother, sister, and their mutual friends as they all come to terms with Kirino’s otaku lifestyle.

Kyousuke and Kirino may be siblings, but their relationship would be described as closer to that of casual acquaintances, and even that may be a stretch. The story starts with Kyousuke finding an eroge (erotic game) hidden inside a DVD case for a moe anime in the hallway of his home. Curious as to who it belongs to, he sets a trap and uncovers the owner is none other than Kirino. She is popular, cute, athletic, and smart, but she is also a massive otaku, buying anime and eroge galore using the wages from her modelling job. Her otaku life is hidden from all of her friends, both at school and her fellow models. When Kyousuke tells her that he won’t make fun of her for her hobbies, she consults him for life counselling. Together, they work to make sure Kirino can enjoy both sides of her life in harmony. Along the way, they both make friends with Kuroneko and Saori. From here on Kyousuke is consistently there to help his younger sister, and the emotional journey throughout this season is enough to bring tears to the eyes of anyone.

The BBFC rating of an 18 may serve to scare you away, but keep in mind that the series was only rated a PG-13 in Japan, and this 18 rating pertains mostly to the 4 episode ONA (Original Net Animation) continuation of the season. Overly sensitive language is used at times in these episodes, purely for shock comedy. Spread over three discs, this release contains the 12 episodes that make up the first season of Oreimo, alongside the 4-episode ONA continuation that further adapts the light novels, and lead in to the second season. These episodes are listed on-disc as episodes 1 through 15, with two versions of episode 12. Both versions of episode 12 start off the same, but diverge part way through; the Good End that aired on television provides a conclusion to the show with an anime original end, while the True End adapts more of the light novel series, and leads in to the second season. Alternatively, you could import the PSP game that follows on from the first season to enjoy countless “What If?” scenarios.

This is a PAL DVD, but despite this, there don’t appear to be any noticable issues as a result of the PAL conversion. The image seems soft, but this is also true of the blu-ray release in Japan. The HD simulcast of season two had a noticable sharper image, so hopefully MVM’s season two DVD will manage to retain that. Sadly, the first disc has audio sync issues; this is irritating, and noticable, but still watchable and the show’s brillaince more than makes up for it. Subtitles are yellow, and there are minor typos throughout, but, it seems that no matter where an anime’s subtitles come from, there will be issues, so I have become a lot more accepting of them when watching anime. As a subtitle only release, you have no choice but to watch it with Japanese audio. This is to the benefit of viewers, as the VAs are excellent and you get to hear Kana Hanazawa as Kuroneko.

Seeing as how the 12 episodes spread over the first two discs can be watched alone for a complete experience, albeit with an anime-original ending, the third disc in its entirety can be considered an extras disc. Four Original Net Animations, that is episodes that aired online following the conclusion of the television broadcast, are included; an alternate True Route version of episode 12, alongside episodes 13 through 15. These episodes continue adapting the story of the light novels, providing a much better ending to the series, that leaves you ready for the second season. It’s also great to see more of a focus on Kuroneko in these ONA episodes, seeing as how she is my favourite anime character of all time.

There is also a trove of other extras including a gallery of artwork from the Japanese physical releases, unsubtitled next episode previews, a textless Stardust Witch Meruru opening songs, and the endings of some episodes as they were broadcast on television if different to the DVD versions. The included trailers, Kamisama Dolls, Outbreak Company, and Sankarea, are all titles that have been released by MVM in the past; it’s a pleasant surprise to see a wholly relevant trailers section on a UK release, even if the trailers themselves seem of a markedly lower quality than the series. Unfortunately, there are no textless versions of the brilliant opening track by ClariS, or of the myriad of ending themes used throughout the season. The animated commentary shorts are also missing on this release.

Oreimo, despite the 18 rating, is a remarkably heartwarming anime; it's really a shame that the BBFC chose to give such a harsh rating due to some language that is used in the ONA episodes purely for shock comedy. Ignore any preconceptions you may have for this title, and do yourself the favour of giving it a try, at least when it comes to the first season. It's far from the perverted incestuous harem one would expect it to be; it's an emotional journey of a brother, sister, and their mutual friends as they all come to term's with Kirino's otaku lifestyle.