By Yomi Hirasaka and Kantoku. Released in Japan as “Imouto sae Ireba ii” by Shogakukan. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Kevin Gifford.
I will admit, I wasn’t originally planning to start this series at all. Its reputation, from the anime that was adapted from it, was so well known that I kind of recoiled. That said, most of that reputation is either from the first scene of Episode 1 or based around the antics of one character. And I’m always reluctant to condemn something without at least trying it first. Plus the author has also written Haganai: I Don’t Have Many Friends, whose manga I have enjoyed despite the fact that it too seems to revolve around “the author shows off his fetish grab bag” just like this series does. Would this series be a case where I could see beyond the blatant pandering and appreciate the satire that the author is clearly also trying to sell readers here? Well… yes and no. It’s readable enough, but I’m not sure I really need to read any more of it.
Our hero, such as he is, is a light novel author with a particular obsession with little sisters, Itsuki. He’s actually had a few series published, but it’s notable that after the first one they’ve all been one-shorts or 2-3 volumes. Fans are tired of everything he writes revolving around little sisters. Much of the humor in the book comes from his ridiculous attitude towards this particular fetish. Other participants in the book include Chihiro, his stepbrother and minder who is e3ssentially perfect (no, the back cover even admits it as well); Miyako, his old friend from college who is there to bring something of the voice of reason to things; Haruto, his fellow light novel author who’s savvier than he is but also a bit jealous of Itsuki’s creativity; Puriketsu, an illustrator who’s perfect at art for a giant flake at life; Ashley, who was possibly my favorite, there to save Itsuki money on taxes; and Nayuta.
Let’s just say it up front: the reason people will want to continue with this series at all is Nayuta. The reason people will want to drop this series like a hot potato is ALSO Nayuta. She is by far the most interesting character in the book. When that works, it’s great – sometimes what she says is genuinely startling and funny, and I felt she had the best developed backstory in the group. If it weren’t that the author of this book also wrote Haganai, a series famous from blowing up its fandom to avoid a real ending, I’d suspect that she and Itsuki were an obvious end couple. On the other hand, her filthy mouth can sometimes just be shock for the sake of shock. From the beginning she’s saying “I want your hard cock” to Itsuki, and we also get “walking blowjob machine” and other similar things. Nayuta… is perhaps trying a bit too hard. And that can be trying for the reader, even if her feelings are genuine.
The other reason to read this series is the insight it gives into the light novel writer/editor process, and also satirizing that a bit. The book namedrops all over the place, including Haganai’s OWN little sister characters getting mentioned more than once, and a RPG where the players essentially steal abilities from Index and Fate/Stay Night. It’s not exactly a book to take seriously. That said, I’m not sure I enjoyed it enough to get another volume, mostly as I found the lead, who is supposed to be an amusing sister-obsessed freak, the dullest part of the book. And while that’s fairly common in the light novel world, it’s still not a good thing. If you like light novel meta, or teenage girls talking dirty, though, this may be the series for you.