Kono Naka ni Hitori Imouto ga Iru! First Impressions
July 12, 2012 Leave a comment
There are numerous series with similar ideas to Kono Naka ni Hitori Imouto ga Iru, all involving families of sisters who are clearly in love with their brothers. Although the majority of them have nothing to do with incest, as much as many people may think they do. Kono Naka ni Hitori Imouto ga Iru is essentially about Mikadono Shougo who due to his late fathers will must attend Miryuuin Academy in order to find himself a wife. As settings go this is fairly standard for this particular kind of harem anime, and it is also a well used setting for numerous other manga and anime series that are aimed at boys, girls, men and women. The twist in all of this is that unbeknownst to Shougo he apparently has a younger sister who wants to marry him and is apparently attending Miryuuin Academy as well. The series is essentially about Shougo’s search for a wife, while at the same time having to work out who is his younger sister. There are five main female characters in the series and there is a chance that any one of them could be his younger sister.
First of all it seems important to discuss that the Japanese do not practice incest, nor do they condone it, within society it is considered to be a terrible thing. There are however certain practices within Japanese society that gives the impression of the Japanese people practicing incest, and also feed into manga and anime. Continuing on the family line, the family business and the family name are all incredibly important to the Japanese, which is why Omiai (essential blind dates arranged by parents for potential marriage partners) continue to be very popular within all places of society. The name is particularly important since it has connections with the ancestors and so the origins of the family and of the Japanese people for some older established families. However, many families cannot find marriage partners, or are faced with the potential problem of certain groups wishing to use their name instead.
One way that the Japanese have traditionally got around this is by adopting sons and daughters in order for them to marry into the family. This can happen at any age, from very young to the standard marriageable ages of 20-30. Those who have been adopted take on that families name and so become, at least on paper, and official member of the family. When they marry it can then look as if a brother and sister are marrying, and thus give the impression of incestuous relationships when the reality is very different. This particular idea and way of working then feeds into anime and manga which is why there are so many instances of brothers and sisters who are not related by blood. The majority of anime that have this similar setting (with the exception of Aki Sora and Yosuga no Sora) present us with brothers and sisters who are related by name but not by blood, thus their romance is viewed as being perfectly normal.
Such a setting becomes problematic when it is viewed outside of Japanese society however, with numerous people misunderstanding or are ignorant of the cultural and social meaning of such a relationship, along with its context. A widely used accusation then is that such series are simply the anime industry pandering to Japanese otaku who are perhaps perverse enough to lust after their sisters or brothers. Such ideas are clearly not unusual in any society with numerous perversions being present in western cultures, but these anime series with a few exceptions are clearly not designed to feed off of people’s perversions. Of course incest as a subject does appear within the Japanese porn industry, but in a way we can in part dismiss that as the porn industry catering to all manner of fantasies and perversions, and especially those that would be considered unacceptable in normal society.
It seems clear then that Shougo truly is an only child as he asserts during the opening sequence, or at least an only child of his mother and father. There is the distinct possibility that this mysterious girl who is claiming to be his younger sister was adopted, or perhaps she is the daughter of another woman who was close to the Mikadono family. As such the series seems to be more about the relationships that Shougo builds with the five main girls in the opening sequence and also how he pieces together his memories of the past. The scar on his forehead will clearly play a part in the series, as it seems to have jumbled up the memories he has of his childhood and thus the girl who is clearly very close to him.
At the moment it is still unclear who this younger sister is, and while we have been given clues throughout this first episode, they are all likely to be red herrings. They are simply too obvious, with the use of that unique mobile phone conveniently being used, along with Sagara Mei calling Shougo Onii-chan and so on. Of course, while it is unclear who the sister is (or at least the person who claims to be the sister) it seems clear that this girl is a pretty significant stalker. The idea of her watching Shougo from afar, sending his a birthday cake and even calling him is a little on the creepy side, even if she appears to be doing it out of love. Although another thing to consider is that she not be allowed to see Shougo, and if we think of her as someone who is unwelcome within the Mikadono family this makes more sense. It would also feed into the idea of an adopted daughter who is unwelcome and essentially shunned by the family, thus Shougo having no recollection of her at all.
While Kono Naka ni Hitori Imouto ga Iru was clearly not the greatest piece of art this season with a fairly standard plot and the usual character that you expect from a harem, it was quite enjoyable to watch. We have yet to be fully introduced to all the other main girls other than Tsuruma Kanoe (voice by the wonderful Ishihara Kaori – the woman behind Madoka in Rinne no Lagrange and Tanigawa Kanna from Ano Natsu de Matteru). I am sure we will be introduced to them soon enough and see Shougo go to work seducing them all, and perhaps putting that separate apartment to the use that his mother bought it for. Obviously the central mystery of who this younger sister is will be one of the driving forces of the series, along with the interactions between Shougo, Miyabi, Rinka, Mei, Mana and Kanoe. I am sure this series will not be for everyone, considering the setting and the idea of a harem put a lot of people off, but it was at least enjoyable to watch even if it isnt a masterpiece.