ORESUKI: Are you the only one who loves me?
by Lynzee Loveridge,
How would you rate episode 11 of
ORESUKI: Are you the only one who loves me? ?
The road to hell is paved with good intentions and that road is well-worn by every subservient, perfect harem protagonist. ORESUKI offers some interesting meta-commentary this week as we see the return of neo-Jōro (aka Hose) as he rides in to save the day and Pansy's beloved library. As the cast works together to recruit more students to visit the ailing library, Jōro finds himself unable to offer anything until he drags Hose into his problem and that "help" ends up being anything but for Pansy.
Jōro first met Hose a few episodes ago and vented his frustrations when Pansy became frustrated with his part-time job and how he was using replacing her book as a cover for his own sense of inadequacy. That episode also included a central conflict of Pansy calling Jōro out for his motivations and that, to her, benevolent acts done for personal gain are the worst. We dig up the root of that statement this week as it is finally confirmed that Hose, Cherry, and Tsukimi all went to middle school with Pansy where our bespectacled heroine was quite popular. Her beauty attracted plenty of male admirers and false friends looking to gain something by their association with her. This was likely anxiety-inducing for Pansy who felt like she couldn't really trust anyway. Then, in rides Hose alongside Cherry (Cosmos' counterpart) and Tsukimi (Himawari's counterpart) to filter out the fakes. Then things get really meta.
Pansy essentially felt trapped in a harem romcom scenario with your standard male protagonist. Hose is in love with Pansy and it seemed like the world was pushing them together. He has no discernible flaws and is always ready to lend a hand. Hell, he's even already saved the library at his high school counterpart. But Pansy isn't interested in Hose like she is with Jōro because his kindness hurts people. We can see evidence of this earlier in the series when Pansy was upset with Jōro for accepting all the girls' lunches instead of making an actual choice and voicing it. Essentially, guys like Hose are "demons" because they don't let their admirers move on by clearly rejecting them. Hose knows he loves Pansy but he won't ever "hurt" Cherry and Tsukimi, who both hold feelings for him, by outright rejecting them.
Which is, of course, standard harem story-telling. Say what you will, but these types of romcoms usually don't have the protagonist make a clear decision because then the story would end and/or fans of a particular pairing might riot. And we want them to keep buying bundled OAV releases and merchandise long after the television run ends. ORESUKI is throwing shade on this whole business by calling out the wishy-washy male characters that make up the genre as cruel, especially to the girls that fall for them.
Pansy is downright afraid of Hose to the point that I thought her confession to Jōro about him was going to be even darker than it was. The amount of pressure she feels as a designated "main heroine" that escaped from So Everyone Loves Me is terrifying for her. It's like she's fighting against fate itself.
Jōro may be no perfect Hose, but he has a decent nose for bullshit and figures out there's something off about the Tsukimi, Cherry, and Hose triad pretty quickly. He figures out that the two girls are suffering emotionally when they try to be the "bigger person" by helping Hose be with Pansy despite their own feelings. I also thought it was pretty amazing of Jōro to ask Pansy upfront about the situation and then reaffirm that she essentially doesn't feel safe Hose. This is like A+ mirroring how to talk to abuse victims and a lot of Pansy's behaviors reflect that kind of experience even if it isn't textual. He and the rest of the main cast also show support for how Pansy feels when they all decline to help Hose date her. These are good friends. Usually these kind of scenarios are also bread and butter for romcoms where secondary characters try to play cupid (something Tanpopo is still up to but at least it's in service of Pansy now) with no regard to whether both parties are actually interested. Usually they are, but uh, if Pansy wasn't going to jump on Hose in middle school, you aren't going to be able to magic her into liking him now.
Speaking of abuse, Sun-chan makes a return in the stinger with his creepo smile in what looks like a typical confession scenario with Pansy. She's gonna reject you dude, you assaulter-in-the-making. Please go back to winning baseball tournaments and stay away~
I'm pretty impressed with ORESUKI right now for acknowledging the other side of harem mainstays. It definitely gives the show more layers to chew on and a sense of awareness often lacking in by-the-books genre offerings. If I had to make a prediction before the conclusion: Jōro will definitely confess to Pansy and will outright turn down the other girls interested in him. I mean, if he doesn't, the entire show would conclude as giant hypocritical mess.
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