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The Winter 2023 Anime Preview Guide
ONIMAI: I'm Now Your Sister!

How would you rate episode 1 of
ONIMAI: I'm Now Your Sister! ?
Community score: 3.9

What is this?

Mahiro Oyama was just an average erotic game-loving dude...until he woke up one morning as a woman. It turns out his mad-scientist little sister, Mihari, tried out one of her new experiments on him...with a disastrous outcome, as far as Mahiro's concerned. But Mihari is as determined to study him as he is to go back to his shut-in, game-playing life, and one thing's for sure...life is going to get a lot weirder from here on out.

ONIMAI: I'm Now Your Sister! is based on Nekotofu's manga and streams on Crunchyroll on Thursdays.

How was the first episode?

Richard Eisenbeis

(*Note: In this article, I refer to Mahiro as “he” because he consistently uses the masculine pronoun “Ore” to refer to himself throughout the episode.)

When watching the first episode of Onimai, there was a point where I wondered if Lynzee would let me get away with just posting a score and a gif of someone saying “Thanks. I hate it.” But ultimately, I decided that wouldn't be fair—not just because I am actually being paid to write something about it but also because I have something to say about the show (even if that is simply a rejection of its core premise).

I get what Onimai is supposed to be: a cute comedy about a boy turning into a girl and discovering what being a girl is like while lightheartedly making jokes about him grappling with the changes. But that's not what I see on screen; instead, I see a guy being forced to transition against his will—and by his closest family member to boot. It's such a betrayal of trust and personal bodily autonomy that I find it horrific rather than silly.

Then the show goes on to imply that Mahiro's physical sex denotes his sexuality. Him getting turned on by yaoi porn doesn't mean that he has always had some sort of latent attraction towards men (or even that it gets a response out of him because sex scenes are often visually coded in similar ways regardless of whether the characters shown are men or women). Rather, Mihari thinks that because Mahiro is now a woman physically, he therefore likes men—which, intentionally or not, is an assumption rooted in gender essentialism.

A similar issue is shown in the clothing choices. The show implies that just because Mahiro is a woman he should not only dress in female clothing but is predisposed to liking it. Heaven forbid he prefer the comfort of boxers and a T-shirt to dresses and frilly underwear. The idea that we are genetically predisposed to liking certain clothing is nearly aneurysm-inducing.

And do we even need to mention the point that he has a middle schooler's body and is constantly being sexualized—even by himself?

When it comes down to it, despite my best efforts, I can't even engage with Onimai on its own level as the comedy it wants to be. I simply can't get past the show's premise. What it shows and implies are so diametrically opposed to my own personal beliefs that it's basically a non-starter.

Caitlin Moore
Rating: haha no

So, here's the thing. To me, a cis woman, ONIMAI: I'm Now Your Sister!, looks like pure lolicon garbage. The main character, Mahiro, gets turned into a girl by their genius younger sister and now is learning the ins and outs of his new body, including breasts and a vulva. There are jokes about sitting down to pee, bra shopping, and the terrifying power of the clitoral orgasm. While I appreciate its biological frankness, there is no getting around that Mahiro, though ostensibly an adult, looks all of eight years old, and this anime is very much made to appeal to lolicons.

Regardless of the terminology you prefer, there are a lot of lingering shots of Mahiro's prepubescent-looking body, lovingly animated to look as childlike as possible. This is not a case of simplified, cartoony designs with exaggerated proportions; the shading and detail are clearly that of a young child. And in case I had any doubts, the opening is mostly Mahiro in a school swimsuit, an item of clothing so fetishized that there have been several redesign efforts to make the real people who have to wear them less uncomfortable. The unabashed interest in titillating casts an unfortunate pall even over jokes that would be funny and makes Miharu's obsession over her sibling's new body come across as outright incestuous.

Normally in this kind of situation, there wouldn't be a “but,” but this time, there is. I have a lot of trans women in my life, and I try to listen to them on matters of genderswap. A problematizing factor to OniMai is that it lends itself extremely powerfully to a trans reading. As a boy, Mahiro turned hikikomori because he failed to fit the role he felt he was supposed to play as an older brother. After graduating high school, he leaned into his porn addiction and stopped leaving his room. As a girl, under Miharu's guidance, Mahiro starts to consider themselves someone worth caring for. This is something that will resonate with a lot of non-cisgender viewers, even with the sheen of lasciviousness. It's also worth mentioning that a lot of the pedophilic gaze comes from the anime's production team – a quick skim over the manga shows a lot less fanservice and an art style that leans more toward simplified and cute than pandering to lolicons.

My friend's advice? “Learn to read Japanese and buy the manga.” All I can say is you do you when it comes to finding stories that resonate with your experience, but I cannot in good conscience endorse OniMai.

Nicholas Dupree

There's a lot to appreciate about Studio Bind. In an industry increasingly defined by janky-looking, passionless products tossed out to fill a quota of light novel adaptations, they're a studio that treasures quality. For all of my many (many, MANY) misgivings about Mushoku Tensei, that series looked absolutely phenomenal. And while OniMai has a very different art style from that show, it's no less polished and technically impressive. Bind has consistently done great work with anything they take on, and that's something to be applauded.

I just wish they'd stop using their powers for evil.

Not gonna sugarcoat it: several significant portions of this episode were deeply uncomfortable to sit through, and much of it comes down to the visuals. While the actual story and gags of this premiere toe (and occasionally trip over) the line of good taste with Mahiro's genderbending misadventures, it's the way the camera lingers on and emphasizes his new, barely pubescent body that had me cringing out of my skin. How the camera lingers on individual body parts, or how certain aspects of Mahiro's childlike body are rendered, feels invasive and voyeuristic in a way even the most salacious of fanservice shows never manage. It felt like being trapped behind the eyes of a predator for minutes on end.

There's not really a way to get past that, but if you are somehow unbothered by it all, then the actual jokes are...mostly fine? I guess? The humor predictably revolves around Mahiro discovering new aspects of his body and having to acclimate, ranging from old standards like “Oh, I can't pee standing up anymore” to frankly bizarre stuff like “I have to avoid masturbating because the female orgasm is too intense for me to handle.” I can imagine somewhere in there might be something exciting or relatable for people who have experienced dysphoria, but when it's coupled with the visual obsession over Mahiro's underage crotch and chest, I can't imagine it'll speak to many people.

The same goes for the one bit of sentimentalism in this premiere, where Mahiro reflects on how being the younger sibling suits him better than being the older brother to his genius sister. You could dig into something there – plenty of gender-bender stories use their setup to explore the idea of living a different life or inhabiting a different role – but it's hard to take any of that seriously when it's followed up with a creepy scene of Mahiro bra shopping that keeps trying to tease the viewer with his nipples. Any attempts at treating Mahiro like a real person are crushed when the frame tries to sexualize his youth.

There could be something in this premise that's interesting, worthwhile, or just accidentally relatable. But I think the show exemplified its priorities when its opening featured a lovingly rendered, simulated 3D shot of a school swimsuit falling off Mahiro's body and clinging to his butt. It's impossible to give this show the benefit of the doubt when that doubt is being handcuffed and lowered into the back of a police cruiser.

Rebecca Silverman

Let's get the good stuff out of the way first. I genuinely laughed when the characters in the BL game played by our protagonist were named “Toppington” and “Bottomsley,” and I think that the show also brings up a couple of interesting points about gendered expectations in terms of physical appearance. The implication that Mashiro enjoys dressing up now that he is a girl because girls' clothes are cuter than boys' clothes stands out, as does the expectation that she will bathe more frequently than he ever did. If I thought this show would spend any time exploring these issues, I might have rated it a bit higher.

Sadly, I highly doubt that will be the case. OniMai has the sort of mean comedy that I deplore, a premise predicated on the fact that Mashiro's sister Mihari has done something to him against his will and without his consent and continues to do so throughout the episode. Insisting that he bathe and exercise could easily be written off as something done for his own betterment, transforming him into a middle school girl and lifting up his dress to see if he's wearing her underwear cannot. In the end, Mihari has a folder called the Big Brother Rehabilitation Plan, so we know this is all meant to be for his own good. That doesn't stop it from being uncomfortable and, at times, downright unpleasant to watch. However, I suppose we should be grateful that Mihari at no point offers to show Mashiro how to masturbate as a girl, something I honestly thought might happen at a few moments in the episode.

Interestingly, this episode keeps fanservice relatively toned down. The bath scene is so obscured by blinding light fog that we never actually see Mashiro's girl body, and the camera cuts away before he gets on the toilet in the peeing scene. But the implication is certainly enough if you're squeamish about this kind of humor, and really, what's more troubling is how unhappy Mashiro is with the situation he has been thrust into. I'm sure I could come up with other, more academic ways to discuss why this is such a troubling show that I do not find funny and how it squanders some of its more significant potential. But that would go beyond the scope of this guide, so suffice it to say that the humor is too mean and the concept too uncomfortable for me to enjoy.

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