Here we are, at the end of the season, I already wrote about the best Spring had to offer, but not everything is as wonderful and lasting as many of the shows I reviewed. There are times when an Anime is so bad that you are left wondering why? Who thought this was a good idea? And to be fair, I will not be picking apart this show if it was merely mediocre or just another run-of-the-mill harem, because there is a critical underlying about the story, its author and predecessor that deserves to be talked about. So prepare to clap when you see it because I’m reviewing Eromanga-Sensei.
About the show
Eromanga-sensei (エロマンガ先生) is an adaptation of a light novel written by the same guy who wrote Oreimo (surprise!). The show was announced on October 2016, and it premiered on April 2017 during the Spring season. The show only consists of twelve episodes which is more than enough.
Centered about Masamune Izumi, a light novel writer in high school. He doesn’t know the artist who is doing the drawings for its novels, only knows him by her name Eromanga-sensei. Meanwhile, Izumi has to deal with his little sister being a hikkimori who hasn’t left the room for an entire year. He only communicates with her through letters that never received an answer. Sadly, they are each other’s only family. But then, one fateful day, he discovers that… be prepared, that Eromanga-sensei is his little sister! Hijinks ensue as the two and other disposable characters do nothing for twelve episodes.
During the Spring season, I wrote some of grievances with Eromanga-sensei on GNU Social and one of the replies was “Why am I watching shit?” And while the person had a point, I think that reviews should not be considered only about things you like because you will run out of things to say about it. It does not matter if the show is good or bad, it’s having something to say and discuss about its strongest points or flaws. And Eromanga-sensei has a ton of flaws. I also don’t buy the “If you don’t like it, leave it alone” approach, all things should be considered and exposed to the audience who wants to watch a show. And if the initial paragraph did not hint it enough, I did not like this show at all. If I had to mention something good, I’ll probably have to pick the art style, but for that, you don’t need to endure the almost five hours of soulless content.
Let’s begin this autopsy exploring the story of the show, or more so, the lack of one. Even simpler stories and mediocre adaptations have some sort of linear progression, our story/introduction is point A and the ending/conclusion is point B. Eromanga-sensei begins in point A and ends in point A-. The premise is not a joke, that’s what happens the first episode from which, supposedly, the show will advance and move our characters to a satisfying conclusion. But nothing happens. The “mystery” of who is Eromanga-sensei is revealed during the first episode, I can understand, maybe the story will be about the brother connecting with the sister through this secret lifestyle (Where have I heard this before?). No, nothing happens again. Or maybe the mystery is not about the brother and her sister, but the other characters who doesn’t know who Eromanga-sensei is and they have to protect this secret. Keep dreaming, the other characters discover who is Eromanga-sensei before the middle of the season. And this is first established plot point and there are many more that don’t paid off for the entire twelve episodes. And those that get a conclusion are underwhelming, meaningless to the overall story and left me dissatisfied. One example of that is when the story tried to rise the stakes by creating a deadline for our MC to get a novel published. In another story this would be moment for our character to grow and learn how to become a better author. He won an author event by a technicality. This should let you know the kind of progress this show has.
If there is not a compelling story, what does it about the characters? They are bland and forgettable. I don’t want to bring out Oreimo as much in this review but in this particular case is worth mentioning that the characters of Eromanga-sensei are a recycled product from Oreimo. And not even a good reuse of their characteristics and personalities. The troubled sister, the brother, the friend who is an otaku, the chuuni semi-love interest, the cheerful girl and the cheerful lewd girl, they are all here (Except the yandere one, sorry Ayase fans), but they are mixed just enough so the author can proclaim they are original characters. Another sin in this show is how disposable they are, they don’t matter for the story. The lewd girl is presented with some shock value and she tell she is going to fight to make Sagiri (Eromanga-sensei) her best friend, because she wants to be friends with everybody. That could be a point of conflict and help Sagiri to overcome her fear of going out and meeting others. Past episode six, the lewd girl disappears. No mention of her, her intentions or even scenes where she interacts with the audience. Oh, but she comes back in the last episode to draw a penis, that is her character plot. She is not the only girl that is abandoned, there’s even point where our supposedly main girl lead is ignored to give highlights to the other two girls. And one of them steals the show enough to even question why we are supposed to like Sagiri. Oh the fanservice, I forgot. I’ll even say there’s no enough information to even pick a “best girl”, nothing to latch on or to appreciate any of the characters presented.
Eromanga-sensei is a celebration of laziness, of cutting corners and oversimplifying stories. It is true that Eromanga-sensei is not the only culprit in the Anime world of this, but it is almost laughable the amount of reduction and carelessness they are willing to do to never expand beyond a surface level story. Eromanga-sensei feels like we have been thrown into a show that already has three episodes in. No need to show us how the MC struggled to became an author, throw a flashback in the penultimate episode. Parents who will have some trouble with the relationship of the brother and sister, don’t worry they are dead, also featured in the flashback. What about school and how it affects that Sagiri hasn’t come in a year or how the brother is perceived for allowing that? Pfft, we only got one minute of a school scene during the first episode. You get the point, and even we get a point of conflict is resolved without any investment or effort, it just happens. On previous reviews, I’ve mentioned that there are show that should take advantage of the media and expand the universe where the stories happen. That is not to say that all shows should do that, self-contained Anime also has its place, as an example, Joshiraku. But in the case of Eromanga-sensei there is no attempt to go out, literally, most of the scenes in the show happen inside a house or a building. Streets, school, Akihabara, even the beach episode featured more the fucking house than the beach. The most elemental and overdone trope episode in any Anime and they did it wrong.
I think it’s time to address the inbred elephant in the room, yes, this show is mostly about a brother and sister wanting to bone each other. Oh, sorry, they are not blood related so it’s OK and the show will remind you this fact over and over again. I honestly don’t care about the “incest” part of the show. If you are a writer who wants to dip your toes into taboo topics, you are welcome to do so. Create an interesting story with relatable characters that will engage the audience and make them feel something. If you dislike this show because you are not comfortable with the topic, I understand you but keep in mind that’s the only thing that the show has to disguise itself as a real story. Even if the trope has been done before. In fact, let’s list some of those shows:
- Onii-chan Dakedo Ai Sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne!
- Kono Naka ni Hitori, Imouto ga Iru!
- Kiss x Sis
- Saikin, Imouto no Yousu ga Chotto Okashiinda ga.
- Oniichan no Koto nanka Zenzen Suki ja Nai n da kara ne!!
- Yosuga no Sora
- Aki Sora
- Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei
- Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai
Congratulations Eromanga-sensei you excel at nothing and broke no ground.
I don’t know if people would care about Eromanga-sensei if it wasn’t tied to the Oreimo universe. We know they share space-time, we got several gratuitous and nothing subtle cameos of characters from that show. When they appear is a constant nudging and winking telling you to remember and create nostalgia out of your memories of the show, even if we know it crashed and burned tragically. It is obnoxious and shoved it in your face, for the period of less than seconds it shows you a demonstration of not caring about the audience’s intelligence. Imagine if you have never watched or encountered any Oreimo related media before watching Eromanga-sensei, in the cameo scene during the penultimate episode which was akin to shoving Darth Vader and R2D2 on an unrelated Star Wars movie, the camera pans to a group of people and it follows them. You will be asking who they are. Are they going to be characters in the next arc? There’s something that was skipped from the adaptation? Are they important? Even if you come with context and you are aware of them, it is poor storytelling.
Eromanga-sensei is a glorified doujin, a fanservice galore written by someone who wanted to repeat his success by doing the same thing but trimming down on difficult things like drama, character building, location settings or even a story, but he doubled down on things people told him they were cool and popular that surely would sell like pancakes. Don’t even go near this show, avoid it, if you are interested in the art style wait for the wave of h-doujins that will emerge from the next Comiket which I bet they will have more character development that the original show. If an anal foreplay h-doujin can tell us more about the personality of a character than the entire run of the show, you know it sucks.