In anime, I find the portrayals of Otaku to be quite fascinating. Often written by Otaku themselves, this personality trait that originally started in a derogatory sense (and still is to some) is now the most likely type of character to resonate with fans of anime (probably). It’s certainly one of my favorite characteristics, being that Otaku characters are more than just something to relate to: They are a means of which creators can show their understanding and admiration for genre and culture through. When written exceptionally, Otaku characters are a beautiful love letter not only to fans, but to the culture itself. While there is no definitively “right” or “wrong” way to write creatively, there are some Otaku characters out there that can be so poorly realized, it honestly begs the question “Was anime a mistake?”. But then you just shake it off and think “No. Anime wasn’t a mistake. Subaru from Re:Zero was a mistake”. But he’s not really what I’m here to talk about today. No, instead I’d like to focus my attention on an orange-haired girl from Oreimo.
Kirino Kousaka, from an outside glance, is the “perfect child”. She achieves consistently impeccable grades, excels immensely in sports, and has such an attractive figure that she’s already a professional model at only the age of 14. From her looks and abilities alone, she’s certainly worthy of a parent’s utmost pride. But deep beneath that flawless exterior lays a far greater deviant, one that’s completely unexpected for a girl of her stature.
Kirino is an eroge Otaku. Not only that, she’s dedicated to a very specific kind of eroge, one’s that cater to “siscons”. In her case, this attraction extends only to “little” sisters, but it’s an obsession so deep that she invests plenty of her money earned from modeling into games, figures, and erotica. Her love for this hobby knows no bounds, but sadly, the amount of people she can share it with does. It’s to Kirino’s understanding that even though her adoration for these things is absolute, it’s also a hobby that is profoundly shameful.
This is a perspective that isn’t as common in anime, because you know…it’s in anime. That’d be like talking about how disgusting sports are when you’re on ESPN. In anime, Otaku characters are usually the type to already embrace who they are. Societal-based insecurities are not typically touched upon in popular Japanese entertainment, and while I’m not going to go into the history of why that is at the moment, it’s important to note that society is quite often idealized in anime.
Back to Kirino being ashamed however, she hides her passion well and has managed to amount quite a collection without anyone finding out. Eventually, her older brother Kyosuke does end up stumbling upon one of her adult video games, which is the start of the whole series. He becomes her first confidant, and with his help she progressively becomes more open about her hobby. She’s able to finally make friends that share the same passion and reveal herself to previous friends and family (kinda).
Oreimo is quite a touching story about Kirino’s development as a person, as she has plenty of unique hurdles to leap due to the life she chose. Or rather, the life that chose her if you want to get philosophical about it. It’s also about the growth of her relationship with Kyosuke, which was absent for quite a while until her dark secret became the spark that reconnected them. As Kyosuke helps her come out of her shell, Kirino pulls him deeper into the world of Otaku, and it’s interesting to see how each of their understandings of each other, and the world around them change throughout the series.
Earlier in this post I mentioned that Kirino was considered to be a “perfect child”, and what I meant by that was that she certainly seems impeccable from a certain perspective. If you look at her from another angle however, you’ll find that she’s actually really fucking annoying. Her personality is a cold, harsh mixture of tsundere and “little miss perfect”, meaning she’s abusive and self-centered, but also has the abilities to achieve whatever she wants. She forces her brother to carry out anything she desires and is extremely reluctant to show any sort of gratefulness in return. Her emotions have almost complete control over her physical actions, so she uses her brother as a punching bag whenever anything upsets her. Because everything she’s ever wanted has basically been served to her on a silver plate (whether she’s actually earned it or not), Kirino acts incredibly entitled, as if everything will go her way because she simply willed it to be as such.
And the funny thing is, EVERYTHING DOES! For example, (and this is just one of many) Kirino decides one day that she’s going to write an anime, and it actually gets picked up by a production team! But then that’s still not good enough, because she didn’t want them to change the protagonist of her story a little. They eventually bend to her will, as everything always does.
And yet, despite all this, I find Kirino Kousaka to be quite a great Otaku. Part of her embodiment of perfection comes from the fact that Kirino truly devotes herself to any interest she has. She is already a fashion model, an A-student, and an excellent athlete. Most normal human beings wouldn’t be able to achieve all that and still have time for a fourth hobby, let alone one that’s taken as seriously as Kirino’s passion for eroge. The way she pours everything she has into the things she loves is not only admirable, but is the truest sign of the unbridled passion that is being an Otaku. And maybe that makes up for her being so god damn insufferable.
But probably not.
Kuroneko best girl.