Ore no Imouto 8 feels more serious than usual. I think it’s because of these guys.
I must say that Kirino is simply incredible. Already a successful model, she turns to cell phone novels and gets one published, and now they want to produce it as a anime! Kirino is, not unexpectedly, ecstatic, and nervous enough that she invites Saori and Kuroneko along for the first meeting, leading to another “If you really want to …” and “Well, I’ll go because I just happen to be free …” scene. Saori’s just along for the ride. The fact is that all three are excited. The first meeting scene is amusing at the start, Kirino whipping out impossible requests for voice actors, artists and songs. Then it turns serious when she is shot down. She goes home to mope.
For the first time I can recall, Kirino runs into a wall of hard reality. We learn that the company had another show fall through and are looking for something they can easily churn out to take its place. Since we haven’t read Kirino’s novel (thanks heavens) we can’t tell whether the novel would need some changes in order to make it a work of dramatic art rather than a novel, but they also want to change the sex of the main character to appeal to the male demographic, rather extreme for an original work that has become a best-seller. So the choice is hers: bend over and let them make the changes and create a lackluster show, or stand up for her book at the risk of losing the project altogether. Kirino is too young and inexperienced to make that decision. Naturally, Kyousuke steps in, or rather, Kuroneko.
Unbeknownst to Kirino, Kyousuke and her friends attend another meeting, and he tries to argue on her side. It goes from bad to worse, the animators arguing that they need to make these changes, and maybe they should just cancel the production. Then Kuroneko steals the scene. Her subsequent speech sums everything likable about her character. She’s blunt, insulting, and absolutely right. She doesn’t spare anyone, not even herself. She admits to jealousy over Kirino’s apparently effortless success and hints that the scriptwriter is also jealous of this middle-school girl. Maybe the most fascinating thing about it is that she veers off-topic and asks Kyousuke why he’s making such efforts for her, and in the next scene, on the train, we see a hint of envy in her that Kirino has such a devoted brother. So an episode supposedly devoted to Kirino’s career includes a sort of character study for Kuroneko. Nice job. … I’d be jealous of Kirino, too.
As for Otome Youkai Zakuro 8, I think the main story arc finally got moving. Kei and Susukihotaru (I’m sick of spelling that out; from now on I’m calling her Susu) meet up in town and get kidnapped.
Actually, there are three things going on in this episode. The first is the search and rescue of Kei and Susu and the slow unfolding of the main story. The second is the affirmation of love and respect that the humans and spirits share. There’s two scenes even before the action starts where someone outside a couple comment to a member of a couple about the couple. Kei talks to Susu regarding Riken, and Riken talks to the twins regarding Ganryu, and there’s more to come. The third thing is Kushimatsu refusing to allow Zakuro to help in the rescue. Here we don’t know whether she knows something terrible or is simply behaving like a mother refusing to let a prized child out when she could get hurt. But the story wouldn’t move too much if she got her way, so Amaryoju overrules her.
The perps, sisters Daidai and Byakuroku, get some time showing off how evil they are. They come see Kei and Susu, locked in a cellar, to tell them they’re bait for Zakuro. There is no reason for them to do this; they’re just gloating. There’s also no reason when Riken and Zakuro show up (a little late because Riken has to thank Zakuro for loosening up Kei, and Zakuro has to tell Riken that because of him Susu is more confident—Come on, there are people to rescue!) to tell them that rainwater has been diverted to the cellar to drown Kei and Susu. All that does is REALLY piss off Zakuro.
After the rescue (and two more couple comments, Kei taking to Susu about Riken, and Susu talking to Kei about Zakuro, as they try to hold the door against the flood) we get some affirmations, the Kei-Zakuro scene being the best. Zakuro is mad that Kei almost died and shows her affection by crying and calling him stupid. He simply holds her. Then the contrast of a more sinister relationship between Lady Rangui (the Black Widow) and her failed assistants. One of them (I can’t tell them apart yet) says she hates Zakuro for having a happy home, and when you see how Rangui treats her and her sister, you can’t blame her for thinking that way.
Well, it’s good that the series story arc got some attention, since there’s only five episodes to go …