The Fall 2019 Anime Preview Guide
ORESUKI: Are you the only one who loves me?
How would you rate episode 1 of
ORESUKI: Are you the only one who loves me? ?
What is this?
Amatsuya Kisaragi (better known as Joro) has it all planned out (in the privacy of his mind): he's going to have the perfect high school romantic comedy. To that end, he's got his perky childhood friend Himawari and the elegant student council president Cosmos all lined up, and now all he has to do is wait for them to confess to him and take it from there. When the fateful weekend comes (Cosmos Saturday, Himawari Sunday), he figures his nice guy act has completely paid off and it's all going to work out – and then both girls confess that they're in love with his best friend, whom they saw crying after a lost baseball game. As if that's not bad enough, into the shambles that is his planned love life comes Pansy, the creepy library representative. It turns out that she's the one girl who likes him – but mostly his dark side. Should he just go with it because his high school life is basically doomed, or is there a way out of this nightmare? ORESUKI: Are you the only one who loves me? is based on a light novel. It's available streaming on Funimation and HIDIVE, Wednesdays at 1 pm EST.
How was the first episode?
I admit that I was actively dreading what looked like a by-the-numbers high school romcom. So what a happy surprise this episode was! At first it really does feel like every other shounen harem romance, with its stock characters and cutesy gimmicks, in this case the way apparently absolutely everyone at this high school has a special nickname based on either the translation of their names or alternate readings of the characters. The only real sign we get that we're being mislead is the fact that Pansy, the very first girl we see with Joro, is shown to be reading Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 novel The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde – a book where a scientist creates a way to separate his “lower” impulses from his “higher” ones.
That, as it turns out, is what Joro has been doing right along, only he seems to have reversed it, using his Jekyll to mask his Hyde rather than deliberately unleashing the latter. When he realizes that it hasn't worked, we get a rehash of the opening scenes, only this time with creepy horror font, gloomy dying flowers, and a decidedly darker tone to Joro's voice. His nice guy act has backfired spectacularly, and the narration and visuals make for a good way to reinforce that; the wilting sunflowers and cosmos do the job well. Essentially the entire first half of the episode was lulling us into a false sense of complacency about what kind of series this planned to be (and I'd hazard that the title, which sounds like most light novel romcom titles, was a part of it), slowly building the absurdity up to the point where self-confessed stalker Pansy has gone out of her way to get a bench identical to the ones Joro had his plans crushed on delivered to the library for her shot at a confession. ORESUKI is fully aware of what it owes genre standards and has every intention of playing with them, from character designs to fanservice, to details like every girl with a flower nickname wearing her signature blossom in her hair.
This deliberate execution largely works. The discovery that proclaiming your ordinariness and trying to act like the milquetoast protagonist of a dating sim doesn't make you somehow stand out in reverse is key to Joro, and the fact that Pansy prefers his dark, cynical self has a few shades of shoujo romance heroines who always go for the worst possible romantic option. The build up to the first confession (about Sun-chan) does take a little bit too long, but once the truth drops, things do maintain a much quicker pace, which certainly helps the humor. It doesn't look amazing, but that, too, feels like part of the joke, and Joro's faces are used similarly to how Rista's are in The Hero Is Overpowered but Overly Cautious. Long story short, this wasn't what I was expecting and that turned out to be a good thing – and Wednesdays, at least, look like they won't have a shortage of things to laugh at this season.
Advertising copy for this series was very up-front about most of the major twists – namely, that Joro's childhood friend and the Student Council president were both interested in Joro's best friend (Sun-chan) instead of him, and that the dreary girl actually was interested in him even though he didn't want her attention – so I thought I was going into this series with a pretty good understanding of what to expect. Boy, was that an underestimation! It's the one twist which didn't get advertised which saves this first episode from being just another fan service-flavored romantic comedy: that Joro is being every bit as dishonest as the girls around him are.
That raises the very interesting question about whether or not the honesty of Joro's perspective can be trusted. The president and the childhood friend were both savvy enough to recognize that the other might be a romantic rival, but they are also later shown being very klutzy about carrying out the relatively simple strategy to connect with Sun-chan that Joro laid out for them. That casts doubts on the impression given by the first half that each might have been deliberately manipulating Joro with their sexuality to get him to help her, as he seems to believe; instead they may have just been innocently setting up opportunities to bring the matter up and Joro is applying his own cynical interpretation.
Joro reaching such an interpretation is not because he's bitter (though he is), but because he is the true schemer here. That he was actually putting on an act for everyone specifically to position himself for romantic opportunity is a wonderfully nasty little twist. It also makes it very hard to feel much sympathy for his predicament concerning the two girls, or for that matter, for the situation he's getting into with the third girl who is attracted to Joro's true, twisted self. And that's totally fine. Watching that situation play out, as well as how long the other two girls can stumble around Sun while he remains clueless, is where the entertainment value lies.
The flower-related nickname convention is also a bit interesting, though it's not clear yet whether that is a running joke. So yeah, this one is even juicier than it gives the initial impression for being. It actually might be worth checking out more.
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