Over the weekend I caught the last three episodes of Ore no Imouto ga Konna Kawaii Wake Ga Nai, aka Oreimo, aka There’s No Way My Sister Is This Cute. It’s the story of a mild-mannered Japanese high school boy named Kyousuke whose younger sister Kirino has a secret: she’s a closet otaku who loves eroge, that is, naughty visual novels. Before he knows what’s happening, Kyousuke is pulled into a bizarre world of anime and 2D culture and surrounded by a harem of otaku and/or yandere girls, all of whom have feelings for him. Because of its solid grounding in contemporary Japanese subculture, the series is on par with seminal works such as Otaku no Video, Welcome to the N.H.K. and Genshiken. I thought the last three episodes were great, with lots of strong emotions for hardcore fans to eat up, though there’ll probably be some gnashing of teeth, too. One thing I like about watching anime is the random things it can teach you about Japanese customs and society. In one scene in the last episode of Oreimo, Kyousuke graduates from high school and is leaving the school building for the last time when he finds Kirino waiting for him. She gets a mischievous look on her face then suddenly pulls off a button from his uniform jacket, saying, “And so, I’ve taken your ‘second button!'” This is a custom known as 第二ボタン daini-botan in which girls will ask a boy they like (or who they dated but are breaking up with, now that school is ending) for the second button from his school uniform, and keep it forever as a memento. If a boy is popular, girls might ask for his second button weeks in advance, or might settle for his third or fourth button if another girl got there first — so the true sign of a popular boy is one who walks out of his school with all his uniform buttons removed. Since graduation nearly always means parting from your former schoolmates, the custom of daini-botan is a bittersweet one, described by the Japanese word 切ない setsunai, translatable into contemporary English as “laden with feels.”
The Oreimo series comes to an end.