Oresuki: Are you the only one who loves me?: Ambitiously Ambiguous

Shallow Dives in Anime was a blog that came from my desire to talk about anime, specifically the harem genre, which I had been heavily indulging in at the time. While we’ve expanded things here to other anime genres, harem anime is always something that will be discussed on her. I love the genre to death, and it has some of my favorites series of all time.

I’ve also said though, that Harem needs to have a series that throws a bit of shade on it’s own premise, very much like what ReZero did to the Isekai genre. I don’t know if this series is the one that has done it, but we are going to discuss it nonetheless. Join me after the cut as I dive into the series Oresuki: Are you the only one who loves me?

Ore wo Suki nano wa Omae dake ka yo
Genius Writing? Bullshit Writing? You be the judge.

I’ve stated on this blog, and continue to do so that, that Harem anime are at their heart: absurdist comedies. The very fact that you have one guy surrounded by a bunch of girls all trying to win his heart, sometimes ending in a poly amorous relationship is just absurd. That is where 90% of the humor comes from, because if a harem was attempted in real life, one of three things would end up happening.

  1. The guy becomes an egoistical evil asshole who would treats the girls like crap.
  2. The girls end up tearing each other apart over the guy and someone ends up dead.
  3. The girls either get bored and move on to find a guy who will give them their sole attention, or just end up dating/fucking each other.

Harem anime however don’t have to deal with real life consequences and emotions, so a lot of the humor is seeing the absurdity of the concept taken to extreme levels. However, with the sole exception of School Days, (which falls into categories 1 and 2 mentioned above) there has been very few anime which attempt, if not a deconstruction of the harem genre, but a more cynical look at it, until we get to Oresuki.

If I could sum up Oresuki in a bite-sized phrase, I would probably say that the series thinks its a little too clever for its own good. It falls on its face sometimes, bites off a little bit more than it can chew, and seems hesitant to fully commit. However it does these things because at it’s heart it has the courage to try and be something different, which should be admired. The plot of the series concerns itself with a boy named Joro, who has meticulously crafted a ‘nice guy’ persona to try and woo the girls he admires, only to find out that both of the girls he likes have a crush on his best friend, which reveals that this nice guy persona is a fraud and that Joro is a cynical and selfish asshole. He then decides to help ONE of the girls, with the intentions of picking up the rejected one for his own. This is made only more complicated with the revelation of Pansy, the quiet meek library girl has been obsessively stalking him and desires to be his girlfriend. All of his happening in the first episodes gives Oresuki one of the best pilots of all time, and I was honestly hooked after all was said in done.

Image result for oresuki bench
Bench-Kun constantly showing up and having the series revolve around ONE single baseball game is some of the best comedy since Konosuba.

Then in episode 2 and 3, that entire premise blows up in Joro’s face, and the story morphs into something along the lines of a traditional harem anime.

That was disappointing in a lot of ways. I, like many fans, really wanted to see a twelve episodes series of Joro trying to chess-master a way into getting his best friend Sun-chan into a relationship, and the incredible lengths he’d go to try and get it done. With all of the fourth wall breaks and comedy present in the series, I think that would have been an excellent way to tell a story. The fact that it doesn’t, that Joro’s scheme is found out, his friends abandon him, before quickly making up feels rather strange and had me going, “what…that’s it?” more than once, especially when it is revealed that Joro is actually a good and decent person.

Image result for oresuki joro
An entire series about Joro trying to Light Yagami his way to a girlfriend would have been great.

However what kept me coming back to this series was the realization that it wasn’t a strictly harem anime, but instead a story of teenagers being exactly what teenagers are suppose to be: naive selfish assholes. Joro, Sun-Chan, Pansy, Cosmos and Himawari are all teenagers, stupid, idiotic, horny, insecure and manipulative assholes, yet inherently good and kind people. They don’t have the life experience to try and handle these problems like real adults, which the series points out on more than one occasion. As Joro and his friends realize who they are and begin to make amends, welcome Pansy into the group and navigate the insane world of growing up as a teenager, the show seems to settle itself into being an interesting take on the standard harem rom-com.

Then in the last few episodes Hose shows up.

This walking talking personification of the harem male protagonist then pulls the curtain back even further. Pansy, the buxom beauty who has hidden her true appearance because she hates the attention reveals that Hose, who is in love with her, represents the biggest fear she has: becoming a main girl in a harem series. The expectation that she had to get with Hose, who is nice to the point of suffocating, and that what she really wants is someone like the cynical, jerkiness, but kind and loyal Joro. Which brings the series’s seeming thesis back into the spotlight: relax, and be upfront and honest.

Image result for oresuki hose
Hose really pulled the series back into focus, and really makes you feel for Pansy, along with showing just how insufferable a Harem male lead can be sometimes.

Now that is ALOT that is thrown at the viewer in the span of 12 episodes, but thankfully the rock-solid comedy and hilarious fourth wall breaks make everything flow quite well, especially in the middle bit of the series where it very much devolves back into a standard harem rom-com affair. I don’t need to tell you how great things like Cosmos’s edo-era speech, Joro’s constant commentary to the audience, and of course, Bench-kun are. It is this comedy and the frankly stellar animation for a series like this that really saves it, because without this comedy, Oresuki would probably just end up being a confusing pandering mess.

Oresuki: Are you the only one who loves me? is something I’ve wanted for a long time: a comedic take-down of harem anime. A (loving) pie in the face of a genre that is notorious for playing it safe, and never really stepping outside its comfort zone. However it is also a series that is probably a bit too clever for its own good, often trying to be a take down of the harem anime, AND be a harem anime at the same time. Even now I still don’t know if the series is good or bad, it feels like a mystery wrapped up in a enigma, wrapped up in a puzzle. What I can say though is that Oresuki is ambitious and it attempts to do something different. We have to reward that courage, because things like this are always messy, but necessary for a genre, any genre to continue to flourish. It may not be what ReZero or Saga of Tanya the Evil was to Isekai, or have moments of genuine greatness like Majikoi or High School DxD, but it tries and to use a baseball metaphor. Oresuki steps up to plate and while it never does hit a home run, it gets more hits than it does strikes.

Check out this series and see what you walk away with!

 

Related image
A girls with two braids and glasses. Why does this feel so familiar? I know I’ve seen this before……

2 thoughts on “Oresuki: Are you the only one who loves me?: Ambitiously Ambiguous

  1. Agreed on many accounts. OreSuki opened up so strong, then it changed from “Are you the only one who loves me?” to “Is there anyone that DOESN’T love me?”, and then Hose sort of brought things back a little. Only thing for me is that that initial thrill we got from the first several episodes disappeared when the anime got a little too traditional.

    I feel like the series could have had more potential had it kept Joro in the doghouse longer, as a result of dumping more crazy / dramatic scenarios on him. The title of the anime had me thinking that Joro was going to always be facing an uphill battle, with only Pansy there to “love him”. But early on, knowing Pansy is a stalker, had me thinking up all of these possibilities that she was up to something or had ulterior motives – like purposely creating drama to drive Joro’s friends away from him, so she could have him all to herself. Joro’s lone ally, but also his worst enemy, sort of situation.

    In the end though, as you said the anime just morphed into a more traditional harem anime for many episodes. Hose helped, but for me the damage was already done, and the thrill is gone. Not a bad series overall, but when the highest points of an anime are at the very beginning, and then it’s mostly downhill from there. you end up finishing with a sour taste. At least I did.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s