All You Need are Friends, Craft Beers, and Board Games

It also helps a lot if you have a nice twitter account.

As 2017 wraps up, we are 20 years into a world where late-night, paid-for anime of Japan started to be a thing. What does it mean? Well, it means this type of otaku are now older and many are starting to move on to other stuff as they move on to new stages in life. In the next few years we should see more signs of the generational changing-of-guards that has already happened once since last decade. The churn of hits, may it be anime, game, manga, memes, seiyuu, songs, live events, or whatever else that gets peddled onto our collective consciousness, will trudge on. You and I, on the other hand, can take it or leave it.

That light-novel-turned-anime Imouto sae ga iire ba (A Sister’s All You Need) is the story of someone who is taking it. And when we do it, we do it our way–surrounded by friends who appreciate who you are, nice alcoholic drinks, and social gaming (board games in this case). This is actually a pretty common way to have a good time among my friends, and I imagine it is a common way to have fun across the board among young adults old enough to have money to spend, in the developed world.

The fact that Imotosae taps into the creature comforts of those who are employed (and the money you can buy) to me is already a huge boon, in that it doesn’t just name drop random craft beers or board games, but portrays the characters whose lives in which those luxuries make sense to be a part of. It’s a bit of an adult thing when it talks about taxes, and/or how you can maximize your deductions in various ways, as much as it discusses how common relationship hookups could happen, just like how it’s an adult thing to bring back craft beer souvenirs.

Anime isn’t for kids, right? Legal drinking age is 20 in japan!

Imoutosae is also over-the-top in terms of the comedy it tries to deliver, because let’s face it, that’s not why we watch anime usually. I think it makes a lot of sense to consider the effects of, say, naked Kanikou wrestling to get her point across to an equally naked Myaa or Kaiko, with what we’ve seen in Eromanga Sensei. In both the purposes seem to be similar, but the point of one is about this imouto freak who writes light novels and the other is about an actual little sister who have these hardcore characteristics.

Truth is however, that this wave of otaku is growing up, and what struck a chord with them will get pivoted to fit better with an older audience. It’s the shift in paradigm where the IP ages, but also changes. No longer we play games on carts, but we download patches and content patches over time as these games grow older with us, to use a video game analogy. It’s table stakes to have cute, adorable characters; to win you have to ante up something. In this case we have a story about a bunch of young adults, which is a lot more affecting than a story about a bunch of goofy but loveable teenagers.

Which is to say, what about Kani Nayuta? She’s a bridge between two realities.

For better or for worse, Imouto Sae will turn around and focus on the little sister in the show, so we’ll see how that rides out. I’m not hoping for much. It’s to the extent in which I don’t want to sell this show to anyone really, despite my enthusiasm for the show, and the ability to point to why I like it fairly clearly.

Another way I enjoy Imoutosae has been that it doesn’t really give a damn about the fictional aspect of itself. It allows some outrageous takes (Chihiro’s ass being one). But watching that Once Upon a Time play-through this past week really put a spotlight in terms of the silly things it comes up with. On some simple level, what goes into a light novel can be the replays some writers put together during their D&D sessions. That isn’t so different than Itsuki’s episode-1 pitch where the character’s sister served her (breast?)milk for breakfast.  In that sense, where and how do you have a discourse in which that kind of thinking serves as a baseline?

Or that for Myaa’s brithday, Kanikou wrote her a short novel which materialized her fantasy via Kanikou’s vivid imagination? I think this is the kind of plot device that just doesn’t happen in this genre format–closest thing I see it ever would be like, say, AnoHana the movie (but they made a fireworks thing?) or Whisper of the Heart (but that piece treats art in a more generic way). It’s quite something if you think about it.

Which is all to say, in order to sell some Blu-rays, Bandai Visual will uncensor the audio track, which is the most delightful meta take ever. In a season with Anime-Gataris I’m glad the current meta has well-outpaced its commercial variant, even in the commercial implementation. The whole existence of Imoutosae is about the delivery of the things I care about, and others like me. So far it has not erred.

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