This is review number three hundred and ninety five. This anime is part of the Spring 2017 lineup, and it’s called Eromanga sensei. It’s a twelve episode anime about OreImo and a bunch of incest as well. It actually has a lot more to it than that, and there’s a lot to unpack here. So let’s read on.
The anime follows Izumi Masamune discovering his little sister is actually his light novel illustrator. Learning more about his little sister, Masamune tries to get close to her. A bunch of other girls soon take interest in him as well, and we follow Masamune interact with them in this light fluff about the LN industry.
Taking the Pants Off
I saw this anime a lot on my wordpress reader, so I decided to watch and review it. This is apparently from the same author as OreImo, and the anime is actually a celebration of the light novel fandom. OreImo celebrates the VN and otaku fandom in general, but the landscape has truly changed for the author to finally give a different fandom some love. Eromanga-sensei encompasses a lot of things, and it’s honestly a thematic mess. There were so many things thrown in here that gradually drags the anime down. A simple incest story spirals into so many things, and you have to understand that everything is intentional. The line is blurred between an actual story, celebrating LN tropes and the author himself reaching out to his fans. Light Novel has evolved rapidly in such a short time, and Eromanga sensei is actually a show that reflects that. I don’t blame people for not liking this anime, but I personally can’t help but smile. I smile at a lot of things that has genuine passion in it. Bakuman’s story feels so personal that I love its really unique story. OreImo’s look at the fandom, with its healthy activity in Akihabara, also makes me smile. Eromanga sensei does the exact same thing. I’m not really into light novel, and you’d have to strap me down and torture me to get me to read one, but I just can’t help but smile. This anime is for the light novel fans of the world, and everything you love about light novel is crammed in this show.
It’s pretty clear that I don’t really read light novels, but I would like to point out that I have reviewed a sh*t ton of them. I HAVE REVIEWED SO MANY SUBPAR LIGHT NOVELS, and I am ready to quit reviewing them altogether. Like so many genres and adaptations, in order you really appreciate this anime, you’d have to accept that this show behaves like a light novel. It means that I get to use the LN bingo card for this one, and check out the tropes featured in this show to see if it hits bingo. So for a typical light novel anime, you should expect the undying accidental harem where every single person the main character meets is conveniently a female. You also shouldn’t be surprised when this anime features way too much nudity or ecchi scenes, because light novel is built that way. Every single creepy shot of a girl’s exposed belly button, when she turns around in a random scene, is meticulously explained in a long sentence in the light novel itself. You should also expect the anime to give us way too many scenes of the main character and a female character exchanging long dialogues. They are really just flirting with one another. Light novel works in a pattern, and I am personally sick of it, but it is part of what makes a light novel an enjoyable light novel. Despite the many cliché and light novel tropes this anime featured, the show is also giving us callbacks to OreImo. In the first episode, the pacing literally feels like the first episode of OreImo. The guy discovers the girl’s secret that gets them to bond and be close to each other. The big brother is also helping his little sister overcome some of her personal problems, but then it hits me. Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai is never so pandering with its fan service, accidental harem or even its characters. Between this show and OreImo, which is a good five years apart in publication, the landscape of light novels has shifted so drastically.
This anime is quick to call that drastic change. Since the author is trying to feature as much similarities to OreImo, the way the clichés and tropes are presented stands out so much. I honestly just watched both anime, and OreImo is never really big on fanservice. The plot and the characters are never put in a situation like the ones in Eromanga. In this anime, one of the girls was tied up, and her panties were pulled down. Another girl played a piano naked for no reason, and there was one scene where the girls played that color game in a bikini. It’s really just how LN anime behaves nowadays, and I’ve seen so many that I can’t really disagree. I laugh though, because LN anime was so plot heavy back in the days. As I said before, Baccano and Kino’s Journey is totally different from OreImo, and those shows are completely different from Eromanga sensei. The progression of the medium is so scary and rapid, and I don’t think I can keep up with it. I don’t think anyone can really process the change, but Eromanga sensei really tried to capture everything that happened in this medium’s progress. As I said before, it is bound by its trope and behaves like a typical light novel you’d see nowadays. The anime still has strong elements though, and it also showcases the best and worst things about light novels. This anime starts out with an incest story, but it devolves into a harem story and then transforms into something else entirely. Throughout its drastic changes, so many things are featured and so many things happened in it.
It’s going to be hard to actually review this anime, but let’s start from the start. The anime had a cute premise starting out. The main character is actually a light novel author, and his series recently ended. That means he has time to be close to his sister, who is a massive NEET that won’t come out of her room. While the main character is a writer, he is paired with an illustrator that wants to remain anonymous. The illustrator, Eromanga, happens to be doing a live stream where he draws an illustration. In that stream, the main character is shocked to learn that one of the notes he always leaves in his little sister’s food appears in the background. This means that Eromanga is actually her little sister. The rest of the episode just feature dialogue, but it’s a familiar setup to know that big brother is now determined to help his sister while also gradually become closer to her. Again, it feels similar to OreImo’s first episode down to the small nuances but it also brings up one of light novel’s stronger aspects: character showcase. In the dialogue exchanges between brother and sister, the story would often stall. In fact, light novel would often give up a story just so characters can flirt. It’s a normal thing now, but it’s done for a reason. Character showcase is where the anime focuses on improving the characters the most. They might develop or be fleshed out, but the main point is to make the characters likeable. This tactic rings true, since I kinda gone overboard and GIF’ed the entire first episode. I don’t fall for most cute sh*t, because I kinda hate cute sh*t, but Sagiri did it for me. I like her a lot.
Character showcase is really the best part of the anime, because the story falls apart from time to time. Sometimes the two elements work together, but often times its really just character building through and through. The anime had three notable chapters, where the focus is on individual stories, and some of them are pretty bad. I think the first chapter is really the only good story in the show. It’s about the main character betting Eromanga’s services to an author named Elf, and they had a short story showdown to end it once and for all. The chapter isn’t really that interesting, plotwise, since a lot of things are glossed over. It’s a fun chapter though, because of its strong character showcase. Elf is the best character in the entire series, and I would love to see her and Kuroneko do a proper crossover. Like, ohmygawd, can you imagine? The other two chapters got worse as the show progresses. The second chapter featured another showdown with an author named Muramasa. This had an interesting build up, because the main character and Muramasa had the same style but the other author is a lot more popular. In a vicious takedown, Muramasa reveals that she is hindering the main character’s dream, since the publishing spot for him is bumped for Muramasa’s work instead. This led to the two authors joining a contest where the winner gets a publishing spot within the year. The setup for this chapter is incredible, but the contest itself is glossed over. Nothing really happens, and the show focused more on the character showcase. This was annoying, because the author kinda had a similar event happen to him. Before he made OreImo , he won a competition that got his work published. I was hoping the chapter would’ve been more polished, considering the author is using his real life experiences for his stories. Instead, the awesome Masamune character is reduced to a harem member. She’s the least interesting character in the series, in my opinion, but mostly because her potential was slowly washed away.
The third chapter is a four episode long beach episode, and I actually like that idea. It’s actually a transition phase for the anime, because the true harem aspect of the show is properly established in these last episodes. It’s a big character showcase from one awesome character to another, and it actually had some standout moments. This is sadly one aspect of light novels that I don’t appreciate. Stories are often given third priority, because the order goes from character showcase, fan service/ecchi scenes and then story. Complaining about it won’t matter now though, because the character showcase is still the best aspect of the anime. Every single female character really becomes a likeable entity in this show’s run. Even the ones with relatively small roles, like the class president or the bookstore employee, will still stand out no matter the situation. I think the last chapter is the true litmus test for the anime though. When the characters grow on you and you start to like every aspect about them, the story won’t matter as much. Of course, if you aren’t really exposed to so many light novel sh*t then the anime can be a chore to watch. It’s hard to appreciate the show’s blatant LN celebration when you can’t blur the lines between what is an obvious reference and what isn’t.
This is the same case for OreImo. A lot of people don’t understand that the plot is weaved through a celebration of the fandom. Every discussion about anime, every maid café visit, and every otaku related activities means a lot to the overall experience of the show. The same goes for Eromanga. When the little sister yells “light novel main character!”, it’s actually a dig at the clichés and tropes of LN. It was a smart jab at the entire medium, and the anime had loads of discussions about the tropes and clichés. The anime is very self-aware, and some of the discussions are very clever. I remember how the anime directly complained about mary sue characters in a smart and subversive way. There are lines of dialogues that really points to the patterns most author uses, and I feel like the anime itself is singling out a certain writer. This is the general vibe of the anime, actually. It feels like the author himself is talking directly to the fans. The anime comes off as a passionate “thank you” to the fans of the author. OreImo is surprisingly a giant media franchise, and the ball got rolling when the light novel got popular enough to enter into other mediums. Eromanga sensei feels like it was written specifically for the fans. The author wrote a story that reflects the fandom, but it’s also something the fandom would love.
That’s actually another aspect of the anime I like. It has a sincere vibe to it. There are some honest emotions displayed in this anime. There a scene of a fan admiring the author, and the dialogue feels real. It feels like something you can’t really tell unless you’ve experienced it yourself. It’s kinda hard to describe, but the way the fan admires their author feels genuine. The way the characters talk about being engrossed in a story or loving a story during a moment of low in their lives, it just really feels right. It feels really genuine, as if the author is digging from some place real. I guess I like this part of the anime, because I’ve experienced it myself. Even though I’ve only seen light novel adaptations, I’ve always been engrossed by the juicy stories of Kino’s Journey and Spice and Wolf. They also helped me moved on from a bad moment in my life, and I like how the story reflects that. This is a very small aspect of the anime though, and the basic tropes and ecchi dominates most of the scenes. Still, this feels very real to me as if the author is really stopping all the gears from turning to talk about something real. It also speaks to the level of storytelling here, since you can tie a girl up and pull down her panties yet she can still deliver solid honest lines like this.
Another aspect of the anime that I kinda admire is the way it delivered on the bro-sis love. I guess its incest, but nothing really happens between the characters unlike a certain VN anime people can’t stop goggling. For godsakes people, it’s been seven years since that anime aired. Anyways, the brother and the sister have established a love story between them. Little sister is an active part of the harem, and she gets to flirt with big brother as well. They even exchange “I love you”s in the series, and I really admire the show for really going there. OreImo tiptoed around this subject, and I guess it’s just a reflection of the times back then. Even though light novels showcased such things, anime isn’t really caught up yet. Then again, OreImo had legit blood siblings and this anime had step siblings. It gets a bit Yosuga no Sora as well, since they had a familiar line of the male character falling in love from the beginning. He reasons that he never really considered them siblings, and then I cringed a bit. It’s treading the Yosuga no Sora route almost to a tee, and it’s actually a wonderful aspect of the anime. I hate it, but I also admire it because anime has never entertained incest like this ever since that 2010 anime. Yet here it, mixed in with the character flirting is a nice layer of well-established incest. In fact, the last chapter kinda builds more on the incest separating the two characters. So, they’re not really siblings but more like lost lovers, and you know what, I’ll take it. I’ll buy into whatever incest this anime is selling, because it is done extremely well.
I mentioned Bakuman before, and this is actually another good aspect of the anime. As you can see, this anime has a lot of things going on. Let’s just discuss this last good aspect of the anime. Bakuman gave us a good look at the manga industry. It told us how cutthroat the industry is, but also how welcoming it is of potential talent. It has editors well invested in their writers that they’ll help shape the stories they are writing. Bakuman told me a lot of interesting things about the manga industry, and this anime did the same with its light brushing of the LN industry. I’m mostly surprised at the Dengeki Bunko name drop. I’ve never heard of the company until now, and they welcome new comers all the time. Their 1000th novel published is Kino’s Journey, and a lot of light novel anime from before actually came from this company. There’s nothing ground breaking being told here, but it’s just fascinating how we get to see a glimpse of a bubble we never really get to enter. Especially for me, since I’m just strictly an anime fan. I love the relationship of most editors and illustrators, and I also love how the LN industry is pretty much like the manga industry. This means that every light novel garbage that has blatant fan service and naked scenes in it was approved by an editor before it got published. There is really a creepy demographic for all this sh*t, and it’s actually the big reason why we go from Spice and Wolf to Eromanga sensei in the span of a decade. I can’t imagine how the landscape changes from here, seriously. Knowing about the meticulous process of LN though makes me want to hate original anime some more. Most stories in LN pass through a grinder then a filter, but original anime would be produced without anyone stopping the glorious directors. There are no editors or even someone to polish up the piece. Its kinda a slap in the face to the meticulous process manga and LN undergoes before getting approved. Why isn’t M3 The Dark Metal or Zankyou no Terror treated to a rigorous process before being green lit? But, that’s an editorial rant for a later date. Let’s move on.
As you can see, this anime has its good and bad parts, but it is also greatly disjointed. The anime had so many things going for it, and it’s really hard to appreciate everything it has to offer. The anime kinda limited its success to frequent LN readers, or else you wouldn’t appreciate what its offering. It also doesn’t really translate well into an anime, in general. Sure, A-1 Pictures did a tremendous job capturing the appeal of the LN, but it’s mostly just meant to be an LN. It’s easier to digest the many elements of this anime in one of those cute little volumes, and the reader controls the pace of the story. This isn’t the case for the anime, where the focus shifts from a character showcase to a sole chapter story to more light hearted fluff. Some of the stories in this anime are glossed over as well, and I bet it had more time to simmer and develop in flavor in the original source. Despite all that though, the anime is still pretty enjoyable. It’s standard light novel anime fare for me, and I can tell since I’ve endured so many at this point. I’ve come to embrace the flaws along with the positive elements. I don’t expect LN anime to break ground anymore, and I think that helps in enjoying this anime. You have to understand how LN works, and you’ll soon appreciate how this anime is like the rest of them but also stands out in its own way.
Characters are incredible, except for that forced secondary male character introduced in the second chapter. The rest of the cast, from the main character to the various females in his harem, are all wonderfully presented. Everyone stands out in their own unique way, and I also love how patient the anime is in establishing the harem. The girls do get ample time with the main character before the true harem is established. I love how each girl gets to bond with main character in their own personal way. There is a bro-sis relationship with one girl, a fellow comrade in arms with another, an admiree-admirer relationship with another and then there’s the neutral big breasted friend. She’s part of the general harem, but she hasn’t really been properly weaved into the story yet. I like her though. I won’t get into the characters one by one, but I can assure you each one is enjoyable in their own unique way. My favorite character is Elf-chan, because she just speaks the right words sometimes. My twitter is loaded with screenshots of just Elf being an adorable character. I love her energetic attitude, but I also love her relationship with the main character. It’s very direct yet indirect, as if the author really knows how to tease a proper story between the two. She also gets significant amount of screen time compared to other characters, so I guess she really steals the show from time to time.
Speaking of the main character, when a character yells that he is a light novel main character, it’s actually a big lie. He isn’t your typical LN character. He isn’t overpowered, he isn’t the magnet of all the fan service, he doesn’t fall on top of the girls (not all of them atleast), and he isn’t the sole focus of the anime. He is really like the rest of the cast, and I love that. Most LN main characters suck, but not this one. He doesn’t just flow with the story, and he also has his own character arc. His relationships with the girls are all unique, because he contributes to them as well. It isn’t just the female character fawning over the guy, but he also has this mutual understanding with each and every one of them. The status quo is also altered a bit, because he already declared his love for little sister. It doesn’t stop the rest of the characters from trying though, and I like that little twist in the familiar LN pattern.
I’d also like to talk about the characters and their backstory. More importantly, every character has a weird past with their parents. This is a big motivation to how the characters behave. In the later episodes, Sagiri is actually a dirty illustrator because of her mother. The main character is an author because his father supported him in that decision. Elf is a seasoned homemaker because of her strict mother and I bet the rest of the cast had some parental issues of their own as well. After all, I’m dying to know why Muramasa wears a kimono. I like this aspect of the anime, because it’s a wonderful way to flesh out the characters. It reminds you that they are just kids, and some of their affections can be misplaced. Since a lot of them didn’t grow up in a normal parent household, they might cling to something they might subconsciously want. The anime gets deep sometimes, but then it comes back up for some proper fan service.
This anime is presented by A-1 Pictures, and this is another solid show from them. I am noticing a weird pattern from them though, because Elf-chan also reminds me of the vampire from Demi-chan, their previous anime. They seem to have nailed this energetic moe character, and their animation seems to strongly present it. I’m not complaining, since KyoAni rode a pattern hard for such a long time. Their new style actually makes watching dialogue heavy anime a lot more entertaining, so I hope they master this particular pattern and create more awesome works. This anime is directed by Ryouhei Takashita, and he did a wonderful job with this one. Considering he didn’t direct OreImo, I love how he nailed down the pacing of that anime to match the first episode of this show. It’s some nice detailed work, and I’m glad his making some great works in A-1 Pictures. He directed a few episodes of Gekkan Shoujo Nogazaki, but this seems to be his first solo directing work. This guy certainly has some talent, and I hope A-1 Pictures gives him more stuff to direct. Being able to capture a lot of good things about the original source takes talent, and I love how he nailed every aspect of it. His time as a key animator also served him well here, since animation is one of the enjoyable aspects of this show.
Sight and Sound
I love the character design in this show, and the anime flaunts it every possible second. Character design is really ambitious and vibrant, and they are also insanely detailed. A big element of the anime’s story involves character illustration, so I bet they wanted to take the challenge of really bringing the characters to life as well. Every design is amazing, and they also match the characters to a tee. Hiro Kanzaki did a great job capturing the author’s vision of the characters. Sagiri’s design is a great example. This timid hikikomori has pale skin, gorgeous white hair and she wear a hoodie all the time. The design gets complex from there as you witness Elf in all her glory with her frilly dress and complicated head piece. This is matched amazingly well with Muramasa’s kimono design while also flaunting her cute potentials. Even simple designs like the book store employee looks complex with the simple look highlighting the best parts of her body. The illustrations are also nicely presented in the anime. Sagiri’s works looks really well done. I’m not sure if it’s Hiro’s work alone or if they added some more easter eggs in there. Regardless, I love every design. It’s straight up the typical ambitious portraits you’ll see in LN covers. They even captured the complex color scheme and complicated poses of these illustrations. It’s another level to featuring the LN medium. The main character’s design reminds me off the main character from OreImo though, and I think that’s intentional. It’s probably the only design that I’m not impressed with though, but it’s alright to give that up for some solid callbacks to OreImo.
The animation is incredible. There are a lot of moments where the studio is really just showing off. I created some GIFs of the anime, and you can tell how crisp the animation is from these cute snippets of Sagiri. It doesn’t stop there though. Sakuga moments are plenty in this anime, and a lot of it comes from Sagiri just doing random things. She’d lie in bed, brush her hair to the side, bop her head several times, smiles then the scene ends. There’s one scene that had her in a relaxed pose with her upper body leaning to a pillow, and then she shifts to a belly down position to look at her laptop. I know my descriptions don’t do it justice, but the animation is just incredibly crisp in these moments. The anime loves Sagiri so much, and it makes me smile whenever she’s on screen. Of course, the animation also shines whenever you see Elf. Her energetic attitude is amazing, and I love her lively facial reactions. Animating just this character alone must take time, and I appreciate A-1 Pictures for really going all out. The A-1 Pictures skin color is also featured wonderfully here, since the fan service doesn’t really go over the top. It’s often just some girls in a bikini, but the animation still shines here. The body postures are nicely animated, and the ecchi scenes are done extremely well. Even simple scenes of a character taking her pants off are nicely animated, and the animation is able to really make it look interesting. The random close ups of a character’s belly button or other parts of her body are also nicely presented. You might not like the story or the content of the anime itself, but I know you’ll stay for the gorgeous animation.
The anime’s OP is “Hitorigoto” by ClariS. I love this OP, but mostly because it reminds me of OreImo. The OP song in that anime kinda follows the same beat. I dunno, it just makes me feel nostalgic for the other show. It’s a song about unrequited love, and it does have a cute vibe to it. Claris also gives a wonderful performance here, especially the chorus which is still stuck in my head. The OP sequence is amazing. It features all the characters in their amazing glory, Sagiri dancing and some impressive animation at the end with every character. It’s a vibrant montage for the show, and I love how detailed the animation is. It also sums up the show, and also spoils some characters before they’re properly introduced. This is one Op you’d search up in youtube though, and just fondly remember your time with the anime.
The anime’s ED is “adrenaline!!!” by TrySail. This is another great song, and it has cute lyrics about riding the wave and just enjoying life. I like it, but mostly because of its energy. It’s a very pumped up song, and the brass instrumentals really makes you want ot jump along with Sagiri. The ED sequence is one of my faves, like seriously. It features Sagiri just moving along with the song. She goes back and forth at it, then jams to the song later on. I look at her face, but I give points for the teasing fan service with her t-shirt almost revealing her good bits. The sequence is also a reference to the second episode where Sagiri asked her big bro to no longer wash her undies. The second episode ends with that, and then the ED sequence commences with her doing her laundry. It’s really cute.
7/10 “The individual parts are really greater than the overall sum, but the experience is still enjoyable despite that.”
This anime is certainly not for everyone, and it doesn’t really come together in a smart way. With no real story to bind the episodes together, and the LN’s clichés and tropes dominating most of the show, this anime would be a bit hard to watch. It does have its cute moments though, and it has its sincere moments. The ecchi and the fan service overpowers those truly good moments though. Still, the character showcase is strong and the animation is top notch. If you like LN or LN anime, then this’ll just be another OreImo for you. It’s a cute harmless anime with a bunch of reference you may or may not spot, but the overall experience from beginning to end still feels like a wonderful one. See the first episode if it works for you, and I’m sure the rest of the anime will be just as great.