Review for Eromanga Sensei Part 1
I think it’s clear at this point that I love anime. But if there is one thing that can turn me off from a show in the blink of an eye, it’s the idea of sibling romance. It pops up with alarming frequency in modern anime, a short cut to rom-com harem humour that more and more creators, particularly light novel authors rely on. I quite recently managed to enjoy Chivalry of a Failed Knight despite this, and hopefully that’s primed me for Eromanga Sensei, dulled my gag reflex enough for me to get through this disc without using it for clay pigeon shooting. Eromanga Sensei comes from the pen of Tsukasa Fushimi, also the creator of Oreimo a.k.a. My Little Sister Can't Be This Cute. Oreimo Season 1 defied my expectations, and was one of the best shows of the year. Oreimo Season 2 on the other hand met my expectations, and then some, and it will be a cold day in hell before I watch that again. Now that Tsukasa Fushimi is revisiting the genre in Eromanga Sensei it does give some concern about the writer’s state of mind, if this is the only genre they can write, but it also makes me hope for Season 1 quality, not Season 2 garbage. Eromanga Sensei gets off to a good start though. The main characters are step-siblings. It can only be creepy at its worst, not genetically inadvisable.
The memories of meeting his step-sister Sagiri are all that Masamune Izumi has to cherish. Since then, and following a tragic incident, she’s been a shut-in, living her life from her bedroom. To make enough money for them to live on, he’s got a career writing light novels, which he balances with going to school. And he lives in the eternal hope that one day, Sagiri will overcome her socially reclusive propensity and come out of her room. Almost as reticent is his partner when it comes to the light novels. He writes the words, but the pictures are drawn by an artist with the pen-name of Eromanga Sensei, an artist that not even his editor has met. Then one day, Eromanga Sensei has a live-streaming event online, where they will interact with their fans, and draw some requested art, all from behind a disguise. Only Masamune recognises his sister’s room and a mistake with the webcam following the live-stream means that he has to force the issue to save his sister’s dignity.
Six episodes are presented across this first volume of two, from MVM.
1. My Little Sister, and the Sealed Room
2. Class Rep Seizing the Day and the Daring Elf
3. A Nude Mansion and the Corrupt Landlord
4. Eromanga Sensei
5. Light Novel Project with My Younger Sister
6. Masamune Izumi and the Archenemy of 10 Million Copies
The show gets a 1.78:1 widescreen 1080p transfer on the disc. The image is clear and sharp, colours are rich and consistent, and detail levels are excellent, the animation smooth and fluid. There are no visible signs of compression, aliasing or banding, to be expected given the disc’s Aniplex origin, and the whole thing looks fantastic. The world design is detailed and vivid, with an eye to realism, while the character designs tend to the cutesy, the lingering camera and direction always keeping fan service in mind, but never being too blatant about it.
You get PCM 2.0 Stereo Japanese with optional English subtitles. The audio is fine, the characters suitably cast with likeable voices. It’s a dialogue heavy piece set in the ‘real’ world, so stereo testing action isn’t all too common. The music is suited to the comedy, while the theme tunes are catchy and induce toe-tapping, getting suitably agreeable animations as well. The subtitles are timed accurately and are free of typos, but being an Aniplex disc, tend to alternate top and bottom of the screen, depending on where the action in a specific frame is.
The disc boots to an animated menu.
You get 2:56 of Web Previews, 5:37 of Trailers and Commercials, one Textless Opening, two Textless Closings, and trailers for Attack on Titan S1, Occultic;Nine V1, Overlord, School-Live!, and the Madman Anime Fest.
Bullet dodged... for now. I still have the two, diametrically opposed seasons of Oreimo in my mind when I consider Eromanga Sensei, but right now, with these first six episodes, it’s definitely playing more like Oreimo Season 1, than Season 2. It’s also done something quite wise with its premise. For one thing, the main characters are step-siblings. For another thing, they’ve effectively been separated by tragedy for a year and more. Because of circumstances yet to be elaborated upon, they’re now living alone, with Masamune Izumi writing to support them, and with step-sister Sagiri a shut-in, locked away inside her bedroom, communicating only by thumping her needs through the ceiling. The implication is that pretty much since their introduction to each other, they haven’t communicated, haven’t gotten to know each other as yet. All of this is immunisation to the idea that the two might end up attracted to each other, or even in a relationship. No genetic links, and little established familial ties should reduce the ick factor.
So putting all that indelicate speculation to one side, it turns out that Eromanga Sensei is pretty good. I was really quite entertained by these six episodes. It is like that first season of Oreimo, replacing fandom with the world of the light novel author. Light novels typically have manga style illustrations, usually accomplished through collaboration between writer and artist. Masamune has been writing light novels, moderately successfully enough to keep food on the table for both him and Sagiri, but in a twist, neither he, nor his editor or publishers know the identity of the illustrator who creates art for his books, beyond the pen-name Eromanga Sensei.
His home life is problematic, in that he just doesn’t communicate with his step-sister Sagiri, merely responding to her thumps by doing whatever chores she requires whether it is food or cleaning. He hasn’t laid eyes on her since she became a shut-in. Their world, their relationship changes for the better when he learns that she is in fact Eromanga Sensei, that she has been producing the erotically charged illustrations for his books. Suddenly the door is open, and the two are communicating face to face, although the soft spoken Sagiri often needs amplification through a microphone to be heard. And given that his first light novel series has concluded, he needs to come up with a new story to publish, and so a collaboration between them begins.
Typically, there is more than just the one girl in Masamune’s life. The bookshop he frequents has an assistant named Tomoe who’s often a source of sage advice. It isn’t long before a girl named Megumi is knocking on their door. She’s the class rep from Sagiri’s school, and she’s made it her mission to get the shy girl back in class. She’s also got a provocative turn of phrase that keeps Masamune blushing. And then a rival light novel author named Elf Yamada (Lolita dress) moves in next door, having challenged Masamune to see just whose writing deserves the artistic talents of Eromanga Sensei. Towards the end of this collection, just as Masamune appears to have come up with his next semi-autobiographical work, and discovered an opportunity to get it published sooner than expected, another rival appears, in the form of Muramasa Senju, a girl in a kimono, whose popularity in the light novel sphere is astronomical, yet she stoops to challenging Masamune in a competition.
Masamune’s relationship with Sagiri develops over the course of these six episodes with a mix of social awkwardness and crossed wires, and there’s plenty of scope for comedy with the interactions between the other characters. There’s plenty of fan service too, especially when Sagiri realises that she needs to broaden the inspiration for her art, and expects her brother to facilitate the appearance of panties in her vicinity, as worn by his new friends, so she can have a reference or two.
At this point in time, Eromanga Sensei is fun to watch, a likeable comedy with entertaining characters, and delightful situations. Naturally it’s heavy on the fan service in a way which might put off those who have little tolerance for such, but it’s never crass. The inclination is to compare it to Oreimo Season 1 (thankfully it’s nothing like Season 2), but Eromanga Sensei has none of the depth or pathos of that show. Its main character’s circumstances are utterly contrived, which on one hand makes the premise palatable, but on the other, makes it absurd as well. This show is played purely for laughs, and in that regard it succeeds for the most part.