To call A Sister's All You Need. divisive would be a gross understatement, as a romcom that mixes wry observations on the publishing industry with a heap of eyebrow-raising fetishes. This week in anime, Michelle and Jacob discuss whether this show's journey is worth taking despite several miles of speedbumps.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network. Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead. Not Safe For Work warning for content and language.
You can read our weekly coverage of A Sister's All You Need. here!
Micchy, why did you make me watch this?
You must join me in garbage sisterfucker hell
BUT WHY MICHELLE...?!
Gotta drag me down into the depths with you, I see how it is. I create this nice space for us to talk about wholesome Japanese cartoons, and this is the thanks I get. What do you see in this thing?
I have no idea what I'm watching this show for, aside from its occasional whiffs of tolerable ensemble cast humor between the incessant fart-sniffing.
A Sister's All You Need. definitely opens on the fartier side of things.
For what it's worth, the first two minutes of the first episode go down in my book as the grossest anime moment of the year, keeping in mind that I also watched the fart anime Onara Goro recently.
I did too! Wouldn't that be one hell of a This Week in Anime. @[email protected];
But while Onara Goro is pure gross-out absurdism, A Sister's All You Need. is one of those light-novel-author/imouto harem things that tries to have its cake and eat it too. That opening bit may just be a really bad chapter the protagonist wrote in one of his terrible books, but there's not much difference between his work and the equally cringey "reality" he lives in.
Unfortunately (for me; fortunate for the rest of the human population) the rest of ImoSae is nowhere near as retch-inducing as the opening scene would make it seem. If anything, the opening scene makes the rest of the show look like tame, run-of-the-mill harem anime by comparison. Its biggest flaw is trying to be clever and self-aware while also pandering to those exact same gross fetishes. Now I'm not one to judge other folks' kinks, but you can't say "haha isn't sisfucker-kun gross" while parading anime girls onscreen for the viewer's pleasure; that's not how satire works.
It's a shame because this guy's "write what you know" approach does work out often enough. Like when Protag-kun hires someone to handle his taxes (self-employment can be harrowing in that regard), and she asks him what the plots are to all his million-word-long eroge. (As it turns out, "Little Sister in Love with Big Brother and Masturbates Every Day Wearing Big Brother's Undies" is a game where a little sister in love with her big brother masturbates every day wearing his undies.) So there are some good terrible gags in there.
A Sister's All You Need. is definitely at its most entertaining when it goes full-on sex comedy, tearing into the weirder sides of fandom. The accountant is also hilarious if you're one for dommy anime women.
just fuck me up fam
At the same time, I would also say the sex comedy stuff can be the show's greatest detriment. It really depends on the situation. When it's exposing and indulging the levels of absurd fetishism that follow ecchi creators from the artists to writers to editors, it's funny!
But on the other hand...
Is it time to talk about Nayu yet, because I have Some Words for Nayu.
See, I'd argue that some of Nayu's material goes so far into the revolting that it becomes painfully funny again. But for the most part, OH GOD NAYU.
Right, well that's the paradox. The issue isn't that she's filthy. If she was just filthy, that'd be great.
Right, she's filthy in a way that 100% panders to the audience. You see, she's not just horny; she's desperately in love with Protagonist-kun because—get this—his incest light novel cured her depression.
This has somehow transformed her from an anxiety-riddled shut-in who was ready to give up on life into a wildly extroverted nymphet pixie who only has eyes for Protag-kun, except when she routinely assaults other girls.
Me @ this show (curse Nayu's heaps of good faces)
And then there's the cherry on top: she's actually a WAY better author than Protag-kun, so much so that it's the whole reason he won't reciprocate her feelings. The show tries to play this off as him being intimidated by her talents and feeling he needs to become a better author to return her feelings, but that's self-serving bullshit. You wouldn't expect that of a girl in the opposite situation, who only needs to be flattered that some guy chose her if he's halfway decent at anything (and sometimes if he isn't). The only reason Protag-kun feels that way is because he's supposed to be the man I guess, and heaven forbid he romantically pursue someone who's better than him at his chosen profession.
She's SO transparently written to be the Perfect Geek Girlfriend, it's infuriating.
Yeah, maybe he would be a better author if he just adopted this genius brainstorming technique:
I would not suggest he adopt Kaiko (the mangaka adapting his work)'s technique of slapping panties on his face, which are ever so conveniently always on her head disguised as a ribbon bow.
Back to Nayu though, here's the thing that frustrates me about her character. For one, she has zero problem with Protag-kun's numerous issues, even encourages them. Now I'm not saying girls can't have kinks (exhibit A: me), but it's super weird when she's somehow okay with Potato-kun's every opinion, even if it is a performative strategy to get into his pants. For two, it'd be different if she were an unabashedly pervy comic relief (?) character, but the show ALSO expects us to take her seriously. She discovered Itsuki's LNs at a bad point in her life, and they apparently inspired her to get back on her feet—the same novels that the show regularly shows us are hot trash. That's not to say that pulpy/"low" art can't have genuine things to say, but c'mon, imouto LNs?
That brings up another issue. They look like hot trash to us, but the other characters regard them as rough-hewn GENIUS (in the world of incest light novels, so given the depth of that pool, idk maybe they are). So there's a disconnect, which is made all the more prominent by the disconnect in how the reality of the show's world is portrayed overall. On the one hand, the show can be pretty emotionally effective at its peak. The best moment in the series is when Protag-kun's friend's novels get an anime adaptation and uh
Yeah, sometimes ImoSae throws a wild curveball of an actually good narrative at us.
The anime's terribleness is conveyed entirely through his twitter timeline worsening over the course of a couple minutes, so instead of laughing at some fake series' terrible animation, you're just locked into how it must feel to have your work received like that.
And the worst part is that Haruto's fully aware that his novels are derivative, cobbled together from popular tropes in a formula he knows will sell. But that doesn't mean he didn't put legitimate effort and passion into it. That's the part that hurts, the horrible confirmation that the thing you spent a good part of your life working on is actually as bad as you suspect.
Right, he responds by trying to obfuscate at first like "oh yeah well you know, shitty light novels, it's just a commercial product anyway, I got paid ha ha suckers." But then he starts breaking down like "no, I know this stuff is derivative and shitty, but I love it, I love making it, I want people to enjoy it as much as I do, so this is heartbreaking." The show goes there, and it works really well.
Surprise to no one, the show's perspective on female friendship is a hell of a lot less salient than its observations on writing pulp. IT'S ALMOST LIKE THE AUTHOR HAS WAY MORE EXPERIENCE WITH ONE OF THOSE THINGS THAN THE OTHER IDK...
Gal Pals (who happen to be hot for the same bland guy)
at least the author's not above the occasional self-own
But that almost makes it more frustrating. Being self-aware means nothing if you're just self-aware about the fact that going back on the same bullshit. "I'm terrible tee hee" is an attitude 14-year old girls put on to seem unique, it ain't cute on authors in their 30s.
He sure ain't subtle about writing to indulge himself.
Now of course only writing what audiences ask for is a surefire path to bland product, but at some point you have to ask yourself "am I jerking myself off too much?" There's a place for self-indulgent lewds, but maybe not at the same time that you're trying to make a point about those self-indulgent lewds.
I mean, jizz all over your work as much as you want, so long as it's interesting or relatable or something. Many of my favorite stories were created by authors just pulling the padge in their brains if you will, and I think A Sister's All You Need. is also at its best when indulging the author's exaggerations of his own experiences.
I too have been here as a writer who works from home:
And I have definitely been here when I miss a deadline:
But it's obvious that he hasn't experienced voluptuous girls fawning over his work so much that they can't stop hanging around him when he talks to them like THIS:
That's Protag's FIRST CONVERSATION with Miyako, she read one of his novels to try and understand him, says she didn't quite get it in a nice way, and then he calls her a dumb slut ten times in a row, she starts crying, and that's their Meet Cute I guess? I hate it. I hate everything about it. Which makes it all the more frustrating when flecks of chocolate come bubbling up from under this big ole dogturd.
Any depiction of human relationships in this show is pretty pfffffft.
I mean, the horniness is relatable, that's what makes the show's excesses funny.
But you can choose to end that scene in any way other than "so then he assaulted the kid and ripped 'er jeans down" and it would be better.
There's also a disturbing undercurrent of privileged asshole behavior running through the whole thing that might turn people off. Haruto pretending to be gay just to get fujoshi to watch his anime, for instance. Uh, that's not creepy at all?
Well, I can't speak for what it's really like to be a light novel author, but now that I'm down in this pit with you Micchy, I can say what I'd like to see out of A Sister's All You Need.
more relatable jokes like this
more absurd jokes like that
and fewer sloppy eggjobs like oh god why
Yeah, maybe we aren't the right folks to tweak this one, because most of my criticism of a show with sister-fetishism right in the title boils down to
Once you take the sister out of the sisterfucker show, what are ya left with?
Glorious censored nudes, that's what