If you think about it, being a harem lead is not unlike being a Pokemon trainer.
Hello there. As we’ve yet to be fully acquainted, I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you about a love-hate relationship I’ve been in. In one corner, me. In the other? None other than Ore no Kanojo to Osananajimi ga Shuraba Sugiru. Or just OreShura if you don’t fancy longcat titles. Or perhaps “My Girlfriend and Childhood Friend Fight Too Much” if you like your localisations. But I’ll stick with the second for the most part in this post. As it wasn’t covered in weekly episodics after First Impressions at the beginning of Winter, I took it as my duty to do a series review on it.
If you’ve been watching OreShura, you’ll have to suffer me briefly outlining the general synopsis. So, to make things marginally fun, try reading the following in one breath. “My Girlfriend and Childhood Friend Fight Too Much” is a harem anime about a generic male harem lead proving that generic male harem leads can in fact be intelligent and get good grades if they work hard for the sake of their childhood friends, but even getting good grades cannot mask the fact that he is still a generic male harem lead and thus utterly and completely oblivious to love even when he does not appear to be. Still with me? Good. Now before I continue, I would like to first dispel any notion that I am here to dump excrement on this show. I may sound facetious, and in fact I am being facetious, but OreShura is not a show deserving of ridicule. Nor do I generally enjoy ridiculing things.
That said, I shall now endeavor to explain what I feel OreShura has done well, and what it has done poorly. Being a harem anime immediately puts the show at a disadvantage, as I’m sure a multitude of more vocal aniblog figures will not hesitate to lambaste OreShura as the umpteenth mindless, brain-numbing, unsophisticated, and generally dull harem anime.1 And truth be told, they would not be all too far from the truth. But OreShura at least does some things well. The gem of the show undoubtedly is Masuzu, the titular “girlfriend”. What sets her aside from the rest of the flock is that she’s not just another pretty girl longing for harem lead’s trouser snake for no other reason than to make us envious of the lucky guy. While most other harem shows typically conjure up some insubstantial reasons for the haremettes to pine for the harem lead, OreShura actually gives us a surprisingly complex character in the form of Masuzu.
Having read around some of the more unsavory parts of the internet (i.e. MAL forums), I’ve seen others accuse Masuzu of being a conceited attempt to give the show some depth and complexity. I have to disagree. To provide some more background, I should first describe the situation between her and the harem lead, Eita. That is, she blackmails him into being her “fake”; a boyfriend for show. Most of us would think, “she sounds like a terrible person”. And Masuzu herself freely admits this, even going so far as to call herself a b*tch. But she doesn’t just remain some detestable character for the rest of the show. As most of us would anticipate, Masuzu gradually warms up to Eita, to the point where it’s fairly obvious that she likes him. The question, then, is “did she like him all along?” I’ve tried many a time to answer this question over the course of the show, and the only conclusion I’ve reached is that this is a deceptively hard qustion to answer.
Masuzu’s motives remain most opaque until quite literally the finale. And some crucial history about her is also strategically withheld from the viewer. But even with everything laid bare in the end, I’m still not entirely convinced of the answer that I’ve finally settled on. This is a question I feel you should answer for yourself to really enjoy the show though, so I will refrain from elaborating any further. Let it be known that Masuzu stands as an example of how complicated and ugly love can be, and to me this is more than enough to set OreShura apart from the rest.
So now that I’ve covered the ups of the show, it’s time for the less pleasant downs. I think I’ve made it rather apparent, but I’ll say it outright. I don’t like Eita. He had promise. He had potential. He could have been the savvy harem lead that we’ve been waiting for; the messiah who will carry the harem genre out of the reputation pit that it’s unfortunately fallen into. But he’s not. What’s especially frustrating is how he appears to fit the bill initially. He’s motivated and capable; he’s at the top of his grade and he actually has a career plan that involves being more than just a part-timer at a family restaurant or convenience store. More importantly, it seems as if he’s sharp enough to notice the feelings of the girls around him. Except he’s not. An attempt is made to pass off his ignorance as conscious avoidance (see: Kodaka of Haganai), but if you’ve watched both Haganai and OreShura, it should be very clear that Eita is no Kodaka.2 Being anti-love does not excuse being a dense dolt.
Also disappointing is the route OreShura takes in the end. What could easily have been an end where the harem lead actually picks one of the girls is painfully obviously avoided. It wouldn’t be incorrect to say the show makes a sudden swerve away from a proper end and hits the harem end in the last few minutes of the finale. It really is unfortunate that the harem end has essentially become the standard for harem anime (in spite of the appropriate naming scheme). I personally believe that having the harem lead pick someone is much more interesting than him loafing around with a gaggle of girls, but I suppose his ability to do so would be directly related to his emotional sensitivity. Which, most harem leads are severely lacking in.
Despite all these grievances, however, OreShura honestly isn’t a bad show. As with most other shows, it has its moments. I just would have liked for it to be more consistent, at least with its presentation. Getting our hopes up about a savvy harem lead and a proper end, only to dash them, is just cruel and unusual punishment. Ok, so I exaggerate. But OreShura really had the potential to be much more than it ended up being. All in all, I wouldn’t condemn the show; but I wouldn’t highly recommend it unless you happen to be looking for some slightly above average harem action.
But that’s enough about anime. Who cares about that stuff anyway? Obviously you’re all here to read about me. So, I will gladly oblige by providing a brief introduction. I’ve skulked around3 Metanorn for about half a year now, and during my tenure as a (not so vocal) reader, I had amassed a whopping 5 comments or so. And to be fair, those weren’t even in anime-related posts. I have been writing about anime for roughly a year now though, and I’ve also been watching anime for perhaps eight years. So it’s not like I’m completely new to the anime scene. In any case, I can’t express how excited I am to be a part of the Metanorn family. I look forward to a good time with you all, and hope you’re willing to put up with my ramblings. They can be quite ramble-some at times.
1Or this might not be the case. I confess should really read more aniblogs.
2Kodaka himself is no harem lead saint either, for that matter. What was that?
3I’m far more active on our IRC channel, so just ping me there if you want to chat.