The Imouto Epidemic

The Imouto Epidemic

Introduction

Before we begin today’s post, I have some announcements to make. There is now a DoubleSama Discord server! This server is open to anyone, and although it’s pretty bare-bones right now, hopefully we’ll be able to turn it into a place for members of our community to come together.

The second announcement I have is about the start of my Patreon page. Becoming a patron is a simple way to be more involved here at DoubleSama.com. The funds from this campaign will be put directly back into the site in the form of updates, such as the coveted dark mode.

If you’re interested in the finer details of both the Discord server and Patreon campaign, I’ll be writing a full post on both of them tomorrow. For now, however, you can click on the links in the paragraphs above to check them out for yourself.

With that out of the way, it’s time to get into today’s topic: the imouto epidemic. The first thing we need to do is understand just what imouto means and why it’s an epidemic within the anime community.

Imouto is simply the Japanese word for little sister, however, in the context of anime it means more than that. While there are plenty of little sisters in anime, such as Boruto‘s sister, Himawari, they’re not really what this post is about.

Instead, what I’m discussing today is the imouto character trope. To make things simple, from here on out if I use the term “imouto,” I mean the character trope, and when I use some form of “sister,” I mean your standard sister character.

Imouto Characters

So now that we know imouto refers to the character trope, just what is that? You may be familiar with other character tropes such as tsundere or yandere. I’m not going to go into an in-depth breakdown of all the various character tropes, but the basic explanation is that they’re cookie-cutter character formulas.

So, the imouto character trope is a cookie-cutter character formula which revolves around a younger sister who’s often in love with her older brother. This doesn’t mean love like how Himawari loves Boruto because they’re a wholesome family, it means love.

There are two primary ways to incorporate imouto characters into a story, and the first is to have them as a standalone character, which often occurs in either harem anime or anime that simply have a large female cast.

Characters who fall into this category include Kobato from Haganai, Natsuki from One Room, Akua from Love Tyrant, and Yuuko from The Pet Girl of Sakurasou. These are all “true” imouto characters, which means that they’re actually full-fledged siblings of the protagonist.

Now, you can probably see the issue with having siblings who are in love with one another. While this is exactly what some series are going for, others have tried out different ways of making this relationship “more okay,” even though it still isn’t.

Characters who fall into this next category are Illya from Fate, Shiro from No Game No Life, and Suguha from Sword Art Online. So how exactly do each of these series change the relationship between imouto and protagonist?

Illya is actually the half-sister of Shirou, which means they’re still related by blood, so that doesn’t really work. Shiro is the step-sister of Sora, so that works a bit more. And, Suguha is actually the cousin of Kirito (plot twist), but, sorry Japan, that’s still not okay.

If the first group was made up of full-fledged imouto characters, then this second group are the imouto-bait characters; characters who bait you into thinking they’re full-fledged imouto, but actually they aren’t. Then, there’s the final group, fake imouto characters.

This group is made up of characters who have no familial relation to either the protagonist or whoever they’re acting as an imouto towards. This could either be a character like Mafuyu, who simply plays the role of imouto in Blend S, or someone like Maria from Haganai who wants to be an imouto.

While the characters who fit into this final group are more acceptable, what isn’t acceptable is the imouto agenda they’re advancing.

Imouto Anime

So, now that we’ve covered the first primary way to incorporate imouto tropes into an anime, it’s time for the second, the imouto anime. The distinction here is that while a standalone imouto character is just one facet of a series, imouto anime make the imouto character the focus.

Probably the most popular imouto anime is Oreimo, which I still haven’t watched the second season of (I’ll get to it eventually). Oreimo essentially defined the imouto genre like how Gundam defined the mecha genre. It wasn’t the first, nor the best (maybe), but everyone who knows these genres has heard of these anime.

The main issue with Oreimo though, is that it includes a full-fledged imouto character in the form of Kirino. So how did the creator of Oreimo fix this issue in his next work? You guessed it, he turned to the tried and true imouto-bait tactic.

Unlike Kirino, Sagiri is merely the step-sister of the protagonist in Eromanga Sensei, therefore bypassing anything that makes their relationship weird. Or, at least that’s what creator Tsukasa Fushimi seems to believe; he’s wrong.

Sagiri Izumi from the anime Eromanga Sensei
Sagiri Izumi (Eromanga Sensei)

Next up we have A Sister’s All You Need with Chihiro. While I can’t say for sure that this series is a true imouto anime yet, it definitely appears to be heading in that direction. With a title like A Sister’s All You Need, a protagonist who loves imouto characters, and a younger sister character as part of the main cast, I can only see it going one way.

However, for now this series seems almost like a spoof of imouto anime, and I’d be perfectly fine with it staying that way. And, for what it’s worth, this would fall into the imouto-bait category since Chihiro is the step-sibling of the protagonist.

Finally, we have the newest edition to the imouto genre in the form of the currently airing My Sister, My Writer. Although it’s only two episodes in, I have a lot to say about this anime. Unfortunately (or fortunately) for you, I’m going to save most of that for my final review of the season.

All I’ll say about it at this point in time is that it very much follows the formula of Oreimo and Eromanga Sensei, so we can all probably expect where it’s bound to end up. It also appears to be a full-fledged imouto series, unlike the rest of the more recent additions to the genre.

Conclusion

So what’s the big deal about imouto characters and anime? It’s simple, whether they mean to be doing it or not, they’re normalizing romantic relationships between siblings, which, as anyone who has a sibling knows, is not something that should be the norm.

This problem stems from the fact that these authors who have their light novels (and yes, they’re all light novels that I’m aware of) adapted into anime are men who don’t actually have sisters. If there’s ever going to be a realistic portrayal of siblings in an anime, it’s going to have to be written by someone who actually has siblings.

However, part of the blame also lies in us (both me and probably you). Why? Because despite knowing the kind of trash imouto anime are, we still watch them for various reasons. At least I can safely say that no imouto character is the best character in her respective series (other than Illya, don’t @ me).

If you enjoyed this post, or if it made you realize how much of a degenerate you truly are for watching imouto anime, let me know by clicking the like button down below. You can also tell me which imouto is your favorite, but unless your answer is Illya, your opinion is wrong.

Finally, follow me on Twitter @DoubleSama to receive notifications every time a new post goes live. Also, don’t forget to check out the new Discord server or Patreon page if you’d like to get more involved. Links to both of those can be found in the sidebar (down below on mobile).

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