Indie Comic Review: Oriemo vol. 1

There are some fantasies and fetishes that make me uncomfortable. Top three uncomfortable fetishes would be incest, pedophilia, and beastiality. So, when I end up with a comic that hits on two of those three, it is a very uncomfortable reading experience.

High-school student Kyosuke doesn’t get along with his cranky, dismissive, and secretive 14-year-old little sister Kirino, but he finds himself somehow protecting Kirino’s secrets—she’s not only a fashion model and a great student, but she’s got a huge collection of naughty video games and anime! This hilarious, charming hit series is filled with surprises and outrageous laughs. Who says girls can’t be otaku, too?

Where in that description does it indicate that I am going to reading about borderline incest and the complete sexualization of a fourteen year old girl?

A more accurate description would read something like this:
17 year-old high-school student Kyosuke doesn’t get along with his cranky, dismissive, and secretive 14-year-old little sister Kirino. But he admits that she looks much older than 14 and that she is kind of hot. When he discovers that Kirino has a stash of big-brother-fantasy porn, he finds himself protecting Kirino’s secrets while she alternates between trying to seduce him and being rude to him. It turns out she’s not only a fashion model and a great student, but she’s got an amazing habit of being drawn in incredibly suggestive poses! This book, based on a hit anime series, is filled with uncomfortable scenes and cringe-worthy art. Who says girls really have the hots for their brothers?

To be fair, the writers go out of their way (in a single scene) to make it clear that Kirino does not want to have a sexual relationship with Kyosuke. Except that she crawls all over him and he is having some pretty uncomfortable reactions to all the times he sees her bent over in her short skirts. Talk about mixed messages!

Maybe I am missing something here. There are other characters in the book who seem to share the big-brother fantasy. But for them it is clear that it is more of a positional relationship fantasy (along the lines of a Master/slave relationship in the kink community). But that line is definitely not as clear for Kyosuke and Kirino. We get a taste of what that positional relationship should look like when Kyosuke and Kirino visit a tea house staffed by people acting out the fantasy. They act nothing the titulare siblings.

I probably could have gotten past some of this if the book had been well-written. But it wasn’t. Kirino is particularly disappointing. Instead of being interesting, or multi-faceted, the writers and artist never develop her at all. They try to give her something other than a great boduy, but everything they introduce (her school activities) are ignored in favor of layering on more sexuality (she is a part-time model). Really it is a case of too little too late. The writers are unable to undo all of the sexualization.

Kirino’s character is so ill-defined that there is no telling how she is going to react or why she is behaving the way she does. Even if the writers were attempting to keep Kyosuke as the main character, they should have at least used him to help explain to the reader (via his own internal monologue) what she is doing. But he is just as confused as the rest of us.

In the end, Oriemo is not a very good book. The characters are one-dimensional, the art is nothing special, and the plot is uncomfortably creepy.

You can check out an 8-page preview here.

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