What the Hell is Happening in My Sister, My Writer?
by Nicholas Dupree and Michelle Liu,
My Sister, My Writer is one of the biggest production disasters of the season, but does that make it more fun to watch or just depressing? This week, Nick and Micchy fall down the long, deep rabbit hole of imouto anime.
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.
Micchy Hey Nick, I've been watching this season's little sister fetish anime (like ya do), and I have one question.
Nick That's a very good question, Micchy. My Sister, My Writer is a new experimental anime that's out to push boundaries, challenge preconceptions, and ask the tough questions nobody else is willing to ask:
But for real, SisWriter is a remarkable show because it's managed to be the biggest disaster of a season that also features Conception.
ImoImo, the latest anime in the "unremarkable light novel author has a thing for his little sister" genre, following in the footsteps of A Sister's All You Need and Eromanga Sensei, has gotten a bit of buzz for being a production disaster. Now you might be thinking the reports are exaggerated, but no, this show really is that bad, even by imouto fetish LN adaptation standards.
The deservedly infamous episode two stands out for its unceasingly bad drawings, but honestly the whole show looks like refried raccoon turds from tip to toe.
Now, let's be fair, it still looks marginally better than haphazard manhua adaptations like Hitorinoshita or Spiritpact. But this poor series has the dismal fortune of being produced by a minor studio at a time when everybody's short-staffed by the production bubble, and uh, it shows.
"Onii-chan, I'm melting."
Yeah, I don't want to disparage the folks animating this. Shitty working conditions are always unfortunate, and I sympathize with the poor artists tasked with getting this thing to air despite being kneecapped at every step. But there's also a certain trainwreck fascination to watching characters shift into vaguely humanoid polygonal shapes.
And honestly, the animation is at least amusing to experience, which is more than I can say for anything else in the show.
I consider myself pretty desensitized to scuzzy anime bullshit, but man does this show find ways to make my skin crawl once or twice an episode.
I think a lot of the revulsion comes down to the smug winking way SisWriter carries itself. See, it's not just a story about a sentient potato whose sister inexplicably wants to dip his quill in her ink, it also wants to be about how to be a good writer.
Yep. It'd be one thing if ImoImo were just laughably terrible to look at, but the story itself is uh...
It's a real problem when you're a bad writer trying to make fun of bad writing. You inadvertently give chucklefucks on the internet the perfect ammo to make fun of you.
ImoImo is what happens when someone takes "write what you know" to its logical extreme. It's a light novel about an aspiring light novel author who's perfectly unremarkable, thinks light novels are the best thing ever, and pretty much operates on eroge dating sim logic. Now ragging on an anime for starring an obvious author/audience surrogate is tired as hell - god knows how many bland protagonists there are in anime - but it's usually not this transparent.
The setup is that Potato-kun's supernaturally talented sister accidentally writes an imouto fetish LN and becomes an overnight success, but she doesn't want the whole world to figure out that she's in love with her brother (until they're an official item???) so she enlists Clueless McNumbnuts to be her writer stand-in.
Incestuous hijinks ensue.
Usually I'd start criticizing this sort of thing by pointing out that Suzuka resembles no human girl on earth; she's a collection of tropes, an archetype that's iterated so many times on itself by now that it's ceased to be recognizable as a character. But you know what, sure. Let's take this show on its own terms, so the girls in SisWriter exist to represent different fetishes, nothing more. You're just supposed to look at them, pick a fave, and then preorder the figures or whatever. Fantasies like these will be written as long as people want to read them, so there's no point protesting their existence. So the new question becomes: is it even a decent version of that fantasy?
Now I'm not really into what SisWriter's selling, but having seen the reactions of people who do like these kinds of shows, the answer seems to be
For one thing, all the characters outside of Suzuka are barely existent beyond random fanservice shots. Mai nominally has an arc about wanting to become a better light novel writer, but otherwise our harem consists of:
rarely appearing big-boobed agent lady
random voice actress with a brocon fetish(???)
and Literally Her Name is Ahegao
You'd think with a name like Ahegao W Peace she'd be a memorable character, but all I can think about is how she's infinitely less fun than the vaguely-foreign buxom airhead character in Akiba's Trip. Double Peace's one joke is to yell inappropriate shit at every opportunity. That's it. There's nothing more to be gotten from her presence but that awkward feeling you get when That One Friend talks about porn in public.
Her entire shtick is that she's the kind of person who'd wear this shirt out in public.
And she has big badonkadonks.
It's like a pair of baby seals trying to escape from under there.
Fun fact: SisWriter has an entire credit for boob props. So there's somebody on staff whose job is to model the boob physics.
Is there a dedicated butt artist? Because ironically, the show's asses are the only things that don't look like ass.
I dunno man, there are some bad asses in here too.
Anyway, the rest of the cast just exists to fulfill a fetish requirement, like we're building a fanservice show out of pre-assembled parts. This anime is essentially an IKEA end-table you got on clearance. Everything else is random plot excuses for Onii-chan to get into sexual situations with his sister.
Yeah, pretty much. Beach episode? Check. School festival? Check. Walking in on her in a state of undress? Check, check.
Going to Comiket, then a school festival, then being drafted into the role of lovers in a school play last minute? All in the same episode!
There's zero sense of narrative direction or motivation. Shit happens because it fulfills some assumed mandate for these types of stories to get published, with no added thought or justification whatsoever.
It's pretty damning from episode one, when the feedback Nagami gets from a publisher that rejected his manuscript is to add a little sister character. It's basically an admission that all you need to get published is to check off enough items on some list of things that readers want to see. Now that's probably not the entire reason behind any decision to publish a novel, but SisWriter seems to be pretty strong evidence that there's a kernel of truth in there. It's all so derivative without a unique bone in its body, not even the limited flavor of ImoSae's extensive descriptions of tabletop campaigns or NAKAIMO's goofy WHO IS IMOUTO tagline.
It's an intensely cynical approach to creation that the show is simultaneously hyper-aware of yet oblivious about. Characters talk about writing the way you talk about making a pizza, slotting in various toppings that sell to make their stories "better", but never discussing what they want to express or share or accomplish with their art.
And sure, anime is an inherently commercial enterprise, so nearly everything that gets made is partially designed to sell something, but I've seen literal toy commercials with more creative passion than SisWriter.
Even in the latest episode, when Double Peace runs into an old colleague who trashes her smut work, they decide to settle it by seeing who sells more. Not to read each other's work or to explain why they focus on the type of work they do, but to let readers' wallets decide, as if there's a way to quantify the significance of art in money alone.
Oh don't get me started on the unadulterated arrogance of SisWriter making its latest villain just a person who doesn't think siscon light novels are very good.
Like that is some brass balls straw-manning that the show can't even refute outside of shouting, "W-well how about YOU try making something?!"
Honestly, y'all should just admit you like trash. It's okay to like trash! I like some siscon light novels, there's no shame.
There's a little shame.
Like a moderate to substantial amount of shame.
Zero shame whatsoever. Look, we've been over this before, you're not getting anywhere by kinkshaming me. But I'm sure at least some of the authors who write siscon light novels deeply care about their work. The potato-kun in ImoSae gave a shit about his sister fetish. It was weird, but you could tell he cared. This potato-kun doesn't seem to care about anything at all. What's his motivation for writing? Why does he care about his sister's novel? Does it mean something to him besides "um idk horny"? And on a broader level, does SisWriter itself mean anything to anyone?
I firmly believe that there's some value to any art that's made honestly. Even if it's lame or rote or rooted in potentially unhealthy fetishes, art made in earnest is worth engaging on some level. But SisWriter is the kind of cynicism that doesn't even feel earnest—it feels lazy and hollow and it doesn't seem to care whether it even exists.
Although it does accidentally sum up its own artistic ambitions nicely.
I can't believe we're supposed to find these girls charmingly misguided when they're right about all this. Like, their embarrassment is supposed to be cute or something? But this is a perfectly standard reaction to a store full of eroge, unless you've spent so much time being Extremely Online that you've completely forgotten the meaning of tact.
It's a common refrain to say anime girls feel like they're written by guys who have never spoken to a woman, but I legit have to wonder in the case of this show.
But hey, maybe they're not supposed to resemble real women at all. Maybe they're deliberately written to be fantasies devoid of any human complexity. If I look at it that way, I can sorta deal with the fact that none of these characters work for me at all.
Sure but at some point it's gotta start feeling condescending, right? SisWriter is one step removed from somebody waving a blow-up doll in your face and making kissy sounds. I guess my point is that people deserve better pandering trash than this.
True! I think anyone looking for dumb siscon bullshit can do far better than ImoImo. Like, say...
At least find something with tiddy that doesn't look like it was drawn using somebody's buttcheeks.
In the end, there's only two things of any worth in My Sister, My Writer. You get some truly mesmerizing gifs...
At long last, the definitive version of Nintendo's beloved fighting game series is out on the Nintendo Switch. Branden Johnson finds out if this edition really lives up to all the hype.― The level of excitement in the Smash Bros. fan community has probably never been higher. For all intents and purposes, this is the game. The one that has everything we could possibly want (okay, except for Waluigi)....
Every now and then when you're watching an old dub, sometimes you'll hear faint echoes of the Japanese track behind it. What's responsible for this phenomenon? Justin digs in.― Sami asked: Why does the Japanese dialogue track sometimes leak to music & SFX track used for dubs? I've noticed this issue in many dubs of older anime. Also many of the ME Tracks have this weird "ghosting effect" in which t...
Gabriella plunges deep into the lore of Ken Akamatsu for this Negima! spinoff action series, while Paul breaks down all this week's new anime releases!― I picked up the new Super Smash Bros. game this week, only to re-discover that I'm not very good at Smash games (and I never have been). Thankfully, the holidays should give me plenty of time to get better, or at least less comically awful. In the ...
This more low-key adventure for Col and Myuri does a great job expanding the series' world, but the transition from lore to drama isn't as smooth as fans might hope. Theron Martin has the details.― The first novel of this “next generation” sequel to Spice and Wolf dealt with events that could have world-shaking consequences, while the second volume dealt with events that could reshape an entire regi...
Big changes are coming to the way Shonen Jump gets distributed in the US - but this wouldn't be the first time! Join Mike on a journey through the history of Shonen Jump in America.― The summer of 2002 was an inflection point for anime and manga in North America. Hamtaro debuted on Cartoon Network in June, positioned as a new kids' favorite, complete with toys at major department stores. Tokyopop we...
Get ready for the holidays with seven of the strangest Santas from across anime history.― The holiday season is upon us, although department stores started blaring Christmas music over the intercom well before Thanksgiving. Whether you're already over the festivities (STRESS! AWKWARD FAMILY GATHERINGS!) or will be up on Christmas morning with bells on, the season is on its way. The holiday is a sha...
Zac and Jacob return from beyond the grave to catch up on a big pile of Fall 2018 anime, plus Broly, new Fruits Basket, Evangelion on Netflix and live-action Cowboy Bebop!― ANNCast 340 - The Thing About My Dokes Zac and Jacob return from beyond the grave to chat Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, Zombie Land Saga and more Fall 2018 anime, plus Broly, new Fruits Basket, Evangelion on Netflix and live-action ...
Not even Zombie Land Saga can rattle Thunderbolt Fantasy 2's iron grip on the top spot! Find out how your favorite shows performed in our weekly user rankings.― Our team of reviewers are following 27 anime series of the Fall 2018 season and readers are rating each episode as the reviews go up. So let's have a look at what ANN readers consider the best (and worst) of the season. Keep in mind that th...
Spine design can make browsing the shojo manga shelves in Japan a little tricky for non-native speakers - Deb calls in book designer extraordinaire Fawn Lau for expert commentary!― When looking at manga in Japan, I've noticed how lots of shoujo tankobon manga have their titles and spines in the same font and format, making for a super uniform look where it's hard for anything to stand out, especial...
The legendary voice behind a cast of icons like Mobile Suit Gundam's Amuro Ray and Sailor Moon's Tuxedo Mask chats about his storied career and the popularity of Dragon Ball and Gundam!― Voice actor Toru Furuya's career is not easy to summarize. For 52 years, Furuya has forged an extensive resume, donning some of the biggest roles in anime to his name. As Amuro Ray in Mobile Suit Gundam, Mamoru Chib...
Our second trip through the history of One Piece video games covers 2004-2018, featuring burning blood, pirate carnivals, and...dancing!― The year was 2004, and One Piece was coming to North America. VIZ had begun releasing the manga the previous year, and 4kids premiered an edited version on Fox with an all-new opening theme that must be heard by everyone. Debate continues to this day as to whether...