There’s a lot of different types of anime out there, but there’s a certain type that splits the community like no other. You know the type of anime I’m talking about: the type that attracts those who do not have little sisters and disgusts those that do (and probably attracts some who do actually have little sisters, but we don’t talk about those people). Eromanga Sensei is the latest offering from this genre, adapted from the light novel series of the same name by Tsukasa Fushimi, creator of Oreimo. From that, you can probably see where this is going.
The series follows implausibly young light novel author Masamune Izumi as he discovers that the titular Eromanga Sensei, who has drawn all of his novels’ erotic artwork, is none other than his shut-in sister, Sagiri Izumi. If you’ve seen the Oreimo anime, you’ve essentially seen Eromanga Sensei by default. The similarities are frequent and apparent, so much so that I feel Oreimo 2.0 is a much more suitable title. Instead of collecting eroge, this sister draws ecchi and the only major difference, is that Masamune and Sagiri are not actually biological siblings. Being a very shy person, Sagiri uses a headset and speaker to talk to Masamune at a volume he can actually hear, which is cute and all, but at this point, she needs to do more than just blush and get jealous to be a well-rounded character.
The series hits every familiar beat of these kinds of shows, such as the brother accidentally seeing characters in various states of undress and the sister getting jealous over her brother being around other girls, leading to typical accusations of being a pervert or lolicon. Throw in some fairly unnecessary drama and that honestly does sum up the show pretty well. The only word I can find to accurately describe the drama in the show is “forced”. It feels incredibly jarring and out of place to shift from hints of Sagiri’s dead mother to hints of incest in the same breath. Anime generally does a pretty superb job of handling tonal shifts, but that’s because the more serious undertones are usually hinted at from the outset. Eromanga Sensei, on the other hand, opts to randomly throw in a serious scene whenever it feels like a bit more character development is needed. Because of this, I can’t help but feel the show has, pardon the expression, shot its wad too early, as by episode four Masamune has already overcome a creative slump, bested his rival and strengthened his bond with his sister. At this point, we still don’t really know these characters, so there’s precious little for us as an audience to connect with.
So who is this rival I mentioned? Enter Elf Yamada, a much more successful author in the cut-throat world of light novels and the annoying, spoiled brat who we, the viewer, are miraculously supposed to like as a character after she has her “serious moment”. For some plot device or another, she ends up moving into the empty house next door to the Izumi family, continues to belittle Masamune and predictably, causes a lot of misunderstandings as Masamune attempts to hide her identity as a best-selling light novel author from his sister. Despite what I’ve just said, I bizarrely did find myself kind of liking her and can only pray that the more banal facets of her character fade away as the show progresses.
There’s also Megumi Jinno, the manipulative, overly sexual underage young girl who regularly makes an appearance in these sorts of shows. She’s also the class representative for Sagiri’s class and has apparently made it her duty to bring Sagiri back to school. At this point in the series, she’s done very little but make some humorously crass jokes and seems to exist solely to create more opportunities for Sagiri to get jealous and lash out at Masamune.
The key thing this show has going for it is its good-natured tone, regardless of the incestuous undercurrent. It’s not the sort of show to induce anger or frustration by how dull or boring it is and it’s certainly not obnoxious. It’s just a somewhat enjoyable experience that doesn’t particularly drum up any strong emotions. It has its funny moments, it has its clichéd moments and it has its disappointing moments, but it’s certainly not bad. Like a lot of anime, it really needs to be judged on its individual merits, rather than be compared to the likes of Cowboy Bebop. It’s at its best when it settles into a comedic groove and at its worst when it tries to reach for something higher.
This would be an admirable goal if its drama was more fleshed out. Although, who knows, the events in episode four, as well as the introduction of characters from the opening we have yet to meet, potentially hint at a shift in dynamic between the characters that could very well help the show stand apart from its predecessors. Whether it’ll be remembered even a month after it finishes airing is still debatable, but at this point, it’s at least a bit of fun/
Eromanga Sensei is currently being simulcast by streaming service Crunchyroll, with new episodes released every Saturday following broadcast in Japan.