Note: Review copy supplied by MVM Entertainment
Title: Eromanga Sensei Part One
Anime Studio: White Fox
Publisher: A-1 Pictures
Genre: Romance / Comedy
Released: September 2nd, 2018
Language: Japanese / English
Extras: Web Previews, Trailers and commercials, Clean OP & ED, Also Available Trailers
Masamune Izumi is a high school student who writes light novels. Sagiri Izumi is a shut-in who never leaves her room. But one day, Masamune discovers a shocking twist-The artist “Eromanga Sensei,” who has been drawing illustrations for his novels, is none other than his little sister Sagiri!
His cute little shut-in of a sister, who has been living under his roof, is using an obscene pen name and draws lewd illustrations?! This slapstick comedy about a light-novel author big brother and his little sister the illustrator brings a cast of charming characters surpassing even that of “Oreimo!”
I’m going to start things off by broaching the thing that long term readers probably expected me to hate: the growing romance between Masamune and his stepsister Sagiri. While the lack of a blood relation technically puts the romance on the right side of the incest divide, I simply can’t help but view it as a negative. For all intents and purposes, they are siblings in my eyes, so it just plain feels wrong. I also don’t like the fact that the younger of the two, Sagiri, is only 13, while Masamune is 16. That makes it all the worst for me. Both of these elements are among my least favourite sub-genres of anime romance tales, so to combine them both into one is a big no-no for me.
The real shame with that is that the series actually does a lot of things really well. For one, Nisekoi composer Tomoki Kikuya has does an excellent job with the soundtrack. It’s over the top and quirky in all the right ways, and that fits nicely with the general feel of the series.
On top of that, not only do the character designs work within the setting, but A-1 Pictures appear to have worked really hard on the animation. In particular, I loved the wide array of facial expressions that Sagiri is capable of when the situation requires it; she comes across as authentically child-like in that regard, meaning that she matches her age perfectly. It’s an odd thing to pick up on, but I have to say, I love the way the animators have drawn fingernails here. They look really good.
The show is littered with visual references to popular Light Novels too. I spotted Sword Art Online and Spice and Wolf right off the bat, and I understand there are more lurking on the shelves of the local book store. That was a really cool touch.
In terms of characters, the core cast is an interesting one. Masamune is clearly a hardworking lead, dealing with high school, taking care of his little sister, and chasing his dreams of Light Novel fame. In many respects, he comes across as quite admirable. He’s struggling, but he’s still pushing on and doing everything right. That he’s willing to reach out for help with his fledgling career is such a good trait too.
Meanwhile, Sagiri is really good in her role. The reason for her shut-in lifestyle is a tragic one, but equally so, it’s heartwarming to see her find some solace in art. I do think that placing her in sexualized situations was unneeded given her age. However, the fan service levels are actually far lower than I expected. Higher than they needed to be, sure, but we’ve seen far more overt instances in recent years. In truth, she comes across as very cute, which is exactly how she should be.
Of the rest of the cast, the one we get to spend the most time with in this part of the series is Elf Yamada. She’s relatively successful compared to Masamune, and quite arrogant to boot. As the six episodes go by though, she moves quickly from potential rival to friend. The arc is over in a flash, but it’s done well enough done to not feel forced.
The story is mostly decent too. From Masamune’s professional struggles to the simple character interactions, it all plays out as well as any other series. The humour works more often than it doesn’t, and everyone feels like they’re moving along in terms of personal development. Masamune and Sagiri’s relationship would actually be really sweet if it wasn’t for the romance arc; the early point of him just wanting to see her come out of her room again was lovely. In the same way, the growing romance would be absolutely fine if the sibling element was removed.
So, where does that leave this overall? I really would have liked the romance to have been directed at another character. If that had been the case, Eromanga Sensei would actually have been a series with much wider appeal. As it is, we have a strong case, enjoyable character interactions, and some interesting story elements that are sadly soured by romance between siblings, one of which is underaged. I can’t give this near full marks, but I can’t overlook what it does well either. So, I’m giving it a 3.5 out of 5.