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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Initial Thoughts: Kono Naka ni Hitori Imouto ga Iru!

Abiding by his father's will, Shougo was transferred into an academy where many young girls attend. It appears as though his younger sister (separated from him at birth) also attends this academy, and that she is trying to get closer to him without letting him know who she actually is. Problem is, Shougo seems to be popular with the other girls as well! Can Shougo "properly" reunite with his little sister and while making a girlfriend at the same time?! (Source: M-U)
Spoiler warning: Contains spoilers for the first episode of Kono Naka ni Hitori Imouto ga Iru!; don't read if you haven't seen!
Here it is, the infamous incest roulette show of the summer, the one that had my Twitter time line a-buzzing so soon after it first aired, mostly with BUT WHO IS IMOUTO above all else. Kono Naka ni Hitori Imouto ga Iru!/この中にに1、妹がいるる! translates helpfully into One Of Them Is My Younger Sister!, which is basically the main crux of the show itself. Which one of these ladies is actually this young man's blood relative - and more importantly, will it end up being the girl he falls in love with and marries? And will he accidentally look at her boobs before then? These are the major life crises facing poor Shougo-san.
The real tragedy is, there's a half-decent show to be found under all the hype and controversy – but its already infamous reputation will probably scare away viewers. Let's be real: so far, Shougo isn't exactly planning to pull a Koi Kaze on his mysterious imouto stalker, although the elements of incest are certainly present (She wants to what? Oh dear). But, incest-y stuff withheld, so far it's shaping up to be a solid harem anime where the main character amasses friendships with multiple schoolgirls (all with differing personalities for variety's sake, in true dating sim style) before finally falling in love with one of them a.k.a. choosing a route and sticking to it to its good ending.

This unique conundrum of Shougo's is pretty much the main reason why the majority of viewers are even bothering to check out ImoIru. After all, he might end up married to his own sister. She's already revealed that any one of the girls Shougo's met so far is a potential sibling. Few things excite certain otaku more than the idea of someone unknowingly lusting after his own imouto all the way to the altar. Clearly, this is the show this summer that was made to create buzz, the one meant to cause a stir with its rather controversial premise.
(Note: It seems controversial enough that no North American-based distributor have announced any plans to license it for release. And if you don't think the two issues are related, look up the furor that arose when a publisher tried to release Kodomo no Jikan in English then come back to me and try to say Imouto's incest roulette plot isn't what is keeping it from a legal streaming site and a home DVD release for English-speaking audiences.)
The main plot – mystery sister aside – is that Shougo must find a lady to marry and make a family with if he wants to take over his father's business, the incredibly successful and well-known Mikadono Group. His family is well known for being loaded ergo it can't be too hard to find a girl attracted to all that yen – but Shougo, being a romantic type, actually wants a girl who likes him for him. And so the search continues.
So far, Shougo has met a small handful of girls, all in the running to be potential wives. The first girl he meets in classic anime fashion; he helps out classmate Tsuruma Konoe after she's swiped by a truck and they end up sharing cream puffs in the park – and almost kissing later. Woah, they certainly moved fast!
But wait, here comes tsundere Kannagi Miyabi, who acts like she hates Shougo but tries to make him kiss her after spying on him and Tsuruma's romantic moment in the school yard. So what is Kannagi's deal, other than being more tsun than dere? Let's not discount the two other class representatives either: food-obsessed airheaded cutie President Tendou and her second in commandVice President Kunatachi, who so far is acting like the Kiyone to her Mihoshi (if that reference isn't too dated for Imouto's typical audience, whoops).
And naturally, don't forget the mysterious wizard girl at the end who claims to claim Shougo as her onii-chan. Certainly we can't have discovered imouto already! Obviously, the spectacled girl is a red herring and the true imouto lies elsewhere, or else this series has already reached its peak. We need more of the mystery imouto pining after Shougo from afar and anonymously sending him gifts that relate to his past. It's got an awesome Higurashi tinge to it and I want it to continue for a while longer.
Now, I can't say that Kono Naka ni Hitori Imouto ga Iru is the diamond in the rough everyone has been waiting for. The art is typical, the music is standard kawaii idol fare (although I've grown abnormally fond of the opening), and the fanservice is just . . . there. Not to mention, all the panties are obscured but the soapy bosom scene didn't really bother with censoring Shougo's arm-crossed breasts beyond a little bubbles. But it is some decent mindless entertainment with an odd twist and a mystery that'll keep viewers coming in with morbid curiosity, desperate to see if Shougo's shot at love gets a nice ending or a fairy tale wedding courtesy of Flowers In The Attic. Only the real imouto knows for sure.
You cannot watch this show anywhere legit. If you want someone to license it, your best chance is Crunchyroll – so if you want to watch subs of Imouto on Crunchyroll, tell them! It would certainly make my life so much easier.
Please look forward to my regular episode reviews of Imouto ga Iru; my review of episode two will come in a couple of days!