ORESUKI: Are you the only one who loves me?
by Lynzee Loveridge,
How would you rate episode 1 of
ORESUKI: Are you the only one who loves me? ?
How would you rate episode 2 of
ORESUKI: Are you the only one who loves me? ?
How would you rate episode 3 of
ORESUKI: Are you the only one who loves me? ?
This season's one and only straight rom-com has a nasty twist to it that will is sure to be divisive. Our protagonist is Amatsuyu Kisaragi, known by his peers as "Jōro." He, like the rest of the cast, have nicknames based on rearranging or omitting kanji in their given names to refer to flowers. "Jōro" isn't a flower; it's the word for a watering can, an ironic parody that will become more apparent later. Jōro has lived his school life playing Mr. Perfect; perfect friend to his handsome and athletic buddy "Sun-chan," perfect student council member to the elegant president Cosmos, and perfect childhood friend to the boisterous Himawari. However, this is all a giant facade.
Jōro is the quintessential "nice guy"; that is he's playing the part of a good person only in the hopes of receiving consideration and, eventually, a sexual relationship with either Cosmos or Himawari. He's not particular about which one it is but it is something he feels he deserves thanks to all of his efforts of playing the part. He has done his best to hide this warped part of his personality from everyone around him but failed to notice his actual admirer, Sumireko "Pansy" Sanshokuin, the school library's assistant. Pansy knows that Jōro has a bad case of Dr. Jekyll/Mr.Hyde going on and is more than willing to use it as leverage to get him to spend time with her. At the same time, Jōro sees all his efforts with both Cosmos and Himawari crumble when both confess to him they're in love with his friend Sun-chan and want his assistance to help them win him over.
ORESUKI likes to play with repetition here, sticking to a reoccurring gag that both girls witnessed Sun-chan crying in frustration after losing a baseball tournament (from separate exits of course, none of three individuals saw one another) and both girls later "confess" to Jōro about their respective feelings on the same bench using the same dialogue set-up. Jōro will continue to be disturbed by benches for at least three episodes. He agrees to help both girls and is surprisingly honest with them about their rival. He helps set both girls up on dates with Sun-chan, having resigned himself to hooking up with whichever one gets rejected. But just when ORESUKI seems to set-up what would be its long-con of Jōro pushing the seemingly oblivious Sun-chan into a series of awkward situations with two equally inexperienced girls, it flips the script again.
Sun-chan confesses to Jōro (no, not like that) that he's in love Pansy, the conniving and bookish librarian who was ALSO at that same baseball tournament. We have completed some kind of love-quadrangle. It also becomes immediately apparent that while Jōro does not respect any of the girls involved, he cares very deeply about his friendship with Sun-chan and blushes whenever he's referred to as his "best friend". He decides to try to push Pansy toward Sun-chan, which she finds insulting towards her own feelings, and as we're soon to find out, Pansy is very good at reading people and has no interest in the "perfect" Sun-chan. In a set-up that is a little too contrived to explain, Himawari and Cosmos are asked by Sun-chan to help him get together with Pansy. The girls take this as being summarily rejected and blame Jōro since he accidentally gave Sun-chan advice that led to the situation.
It all comes to ahead in the library where Jōro's crappy, misogynist personality is put on full display and he is socially ostracized. Admittedly, I mean, he deserves it. He's been a two-faced fraud to everyone who thought he was a genuine friend and was meticulously managing social relationships with two girls to increase his chances to get laid. But hey, at least he didn't threaten to rape anyone.
Did the record scratch for you there too? In yet another twist, Pansy orchestrates yet another reveal in the library. Jōro hides behind a bookshelf as Sun-chan enters and beings talking with Pansy and asking her to come watch his baseball practice. It all seems normal until she confronts him about his own manipulative behavior. Jōro's bad personality reveal and ostracization was orchestrated by Jōro as petty revenge because some girl in middle school liked him instead of Sun-chan, just like the current situation with Pansy. He mocks Cosmos and Himawari's feelings and, after Pansy rejects him, he threatens to assault her.
Jōro comes out of hiding and makes his grand speech about how the girls are stupid and you can talk trash about them but you can't mock their feelings. We aren't dealing with "good" characters here so I guess this is the best scolding he could come up with given how entitled he has been up to this point. Himawari and Cosmos were also in hiding and take this as a sign that Jōro isn't a complete POS and go about stopping others from bullying him. Pansy also reveals that it's Jōro's dedication to his friendship with Sun-chan that she finds attractive (ok but maybe find a new friend now, Jōro).
Pansy and Jōro meet in the library a few days later where she pulls a She's All That revealing that she's actually super-duper hot and has giant tiddies, thus catapulting her from Snoozeville to Bang Town. Yeah, it's pretty dumb but hey, I'll take weird library underboob over the tired crotch faceplant any day.
ORESUKI is aiming to be parody of the usual harem romcom by replacing the Potato Protagonist with PUA reject. I mentioned how is name is an ironic parody (yes, finally getting back to paragraph one here) and it makes sense if you have some experience with this anime genre or bishojo games. Typically the male protagonist helps his potential girlfriend options by helping them overcome some kind of hurdle. The nickname "Jōro" references this because in a cast full of characters named for flowers, he'd be the one helping them grow as the "watering can." Assuming the series doesn't do an about-face on his personality, Jōro is the antithesis of that concept. If anything, it will hopefully work in reverse with Jōro growing and learning to empathize with his friends instead of seeing them as a means to his own satisfaction. It's that possibility, as well as the better reoccurring gags, that keeps me engrossed in ORESUKI.
Also Pansy is perfect, just give her the whole show.
Odds and Ends
The series has multiple references to flowers and literature as some of its set-up. I'll try to list anything new if it comes up per episode just for fun. It's worth noting that Jōro and Sun-chan might not be the only characters with a "double nature." Besides their respective nicknames, the girls also have another unrelated plant hidden in their names, too.
- Amatsuyu "Jorō" Kisaragi: I explained his watering can nickname above. His last name is written the same way as the the month of February (and his birthday is Feb 1, good thing that worked out). His given name is also literally "rain and dew," repeating the sustenance theme.
- Aoi "Himawari" Hinata: the kanji for Aoi (葵) isn't a reference to the color, but the mallow family of plants (hollyhock, wild ginger) while "Himawari" means sunflower. Her last name (日向) literally means "sunny place." In Hanakotoba (flower language) the sunflower says "I only look at you," and "adoration." The hollyhock means "ambition" but also in a potentially treacherous manner (野心).
- Sakura "Cosmos" Akino: Her given name is probably well-known to most as "cherry blossom" and Akino is written witht he kanji for "autumn" and "field." The sakura means "graceful woman" and "beautiful spirit;" it is a classically Japanese motif. The cosmos in general represent a girl's pure heart and harmony; pink ones specifically represent pureness. Our student council president exudes maturity but her flower names might suggest she's more inexperienced than she looks.
- Sumireko "Pansy" Sanshokuin: Sumireko (菫子) means "violet child" while Sanshokuin (三色院) doesn't appear to have any plant references (and can't really be broken down elegantly). The violet refers to "humility, honesty" and "small happinesses" while purple specifically means "faithfulness" and "romantic love". The pansy says "think of me." The character Pansy wears purple and yellow pansy hair ties, adding "happiness" to the meanings.
- Taiyо̄ "Sun-chan" О̄ga: Taiyō is literally the Japanese word for the Sun (thus the nickname) and his name is written the same way as the celestial body. The last name Ōga (大賀) combines the kanji for "large" and the "ga" from "Ga no Iwai", a longevity prayer ritual.
A few books deliberately appear or are referenced in the first three episodes.
- Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson: this one should be obvious to any one with knowledge of the classic gothic novella. The story tells of a well-mannered scientist that unleashes a separate persona, a dark, violent Mr. Hyde.
- Obbell and The Elephant by Kenji Miyazawa: Pansy refers to Jōro as "Mr. White Elephant" when this book is shown. "Obbell and the Elephant" is a fairy tale. In the story, the White Elephant is exploited to work by a greedy man named Obbell. Pansy references the book when Jōro claims he was "exploited" by Pansy and Himawari to set them up with Sun-chan.
- I Am a Cat by Natsume Sōseki: A satirical novel discussing the unease in Japanese society as Western customs began mixing with tradition during the Meiji era. In the story, a cat describes the goings-on of his family and their acquaintances. Referencing the book here is a joke; as in the book the cat is describing a courtship and other happenings and of course, the human subjects have no idea that the cat is genuinely observing them. Jōro takes on the "cat" role when he hides behind the bookshelf.
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