Imouto sae Ireba Ii.: It’s Hard Being an Imouto-less Writer

 

Does this world need more light novels about imoutos and writing light novels? Apparently the answer is yes, and Imouto sae Ireba Ii. (ImoSae) is another recent entrant. Honestly, ImoSae ended up somewhat bipolar for me. I didn’t get a good vibe from my first impression (just look at that ^ lewd 00s era design), but ImoSae ended up being an educational experience.

English: Imouto sae Ireba Ii.
Japanese: 妹さえいればいい。
Season: Fall 2017
Length: 12 ep. x 24 min.
Studio: Silver Link.

My Favorite Creators Cannot Be This Lewd

I know I’m in for a rough ride when episode one opens with some carnal siscon fantasy. I guess it should have been expected; ImoSae reads like Eromanga Sensei 2.0, another ecchi show about imoutos and light novel writers. Our male-protagonist-cum-light-novel-author, Hashima Itsuki, fantasizes about, well, this:

That almost had me drop the show on episode one.

Most of the recurring female cast are similarly… quirky. Itsuki’s fan and rival author, Kani Nayuta, makes it known to everyone, on more than one occasion, that she wants to fuck Itsuki. Oh and, she can only write when naked.

Newcomer Mikuniyama Kaiko, who is picked to draw the manga serialization of Itsuki’s light novels, is another example. She is so obsessed with underwear that she deliberately drew underwear on what was supposed to be fully naked girls despite Itsuki’s objections… and wears a panty face mask when drawing manga.

Fan service humor is tricky; how far is going too far? The answer differs for everyone. As for me, ImoSae veered well into the cringe-worthy zone a few times.

Do you not get tired of these jokes?

Creators Are Humans Too

If you can stomach (or just flat out ignore) the fan service, ImoSae is actually a pretty good watch. It’s told from the perspective of light novel writers, especially ones who are just breaking into mainstream. Conjecturally, it might be semi-autobiographical given a popular light novel author, Hirasaka Yomi of Haganai fame, wrote the original ImoSae light novels.

And even more surprisingly, the male characters of the show are the better characters. Even though Itsuki is always fantasizing about having an imouto, he’s at least consistently persistent on that front, even if to the annoyance of his editor, Toki Kenjirou.

The show does a reasonably good job of showing the life of a light novel author, from being locked up in a room by his editor for days to meet a deadline, to filing tax returns with a tax account who specializes in tax deductions for authors (Figurines? Deductions for work “research”).

One specific point that was rather touching for me, as someone who doesn’t read light novels but do watch anime adaptations of light novels, is how light novel authors handle the criticism. Itsuki’s friend and fellow author, Fuwa Haruto, is popular, but his works are often criticized for a lack of originality. Haruto’s light novel series gets an anime adaption due to its popularity, but as the adaptation starts airing, the negative criticism piles higher and higher.

It’s a situation all too common nowadays, and one that was previously touched upon by Shirobako (*cough*Jiggly Jiggly Heaven*cough*). Often anime productions are under budgeted and behind schedule, and the anime themselves so obviously made not to sell discs but to sell light novels. As such, many fans take to social media and slam the anime adaptations for being so… low quality, and rightly so. But the original authors, despite the criticism, often has no choice but to embrace the anime adaptations even if they weren’t up to their standards. Some, like Haruto, puts up a front on social media but privately shares the fans’ sentiment and copes by trying to forget about the anime.

Itsuki, by the end of the series, also receives an offer for an anime adaption.

Even though he has seen the hardships that Haruto went through with his own anime adaptation, and even though Itsuki’s own anime offer is explained to be of the low quality variety, he accepts it anyway because it’s one more step to his goal of catching up to Kaiko. As a fan of anime I only ever get to write reviews and complain about how bad some anime are, but seeing how the authors often accept the anime adaptations even if they know the adaptations aren’t up to their own (and their fans’) standards is touching.

TL;DR

If you are not turned away by the ecchi parts, ImoSae is well worth a watch. While I only touched upon what I considered to be the best part of the show, the portrayal of light novel authors and how they deal with criticism, ImoSae also does a good job showing some fun board games that authors might play together. If nothing else, ImoSae is a more interesting show than Eromanga Sensei, possibly rivaling Shirobako and Seiyu’s Life! in their educational content on their respective parts of the anime industry.

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