Eromanga-sensei – Anime Review
Synopsis: Masamune Izumi is a high school student who writes light novels. Sagiri Izumi is a shut-in who never leaves her room. A year ago, she became Masamune’s little sister. But one day, Masamune discovers a shocking twist—The artist “Eromanga Sensei,” who has been drawing illustrations for his novels, is none other than his little sister Sagiri! His cute little shut-in of a sister, who has been living under his roof, is using an obscene pen name and draws lewd illustrations?! (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis.)
Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Eromanga is of two minds. Half the time the series sells itself on its perverse comedy, often walking the line between acceptable if sexual and sometimes straying right over that line in ways that’ll have plenty of viewers uncomfortable. At other times the series wants the romance between its leads, Izumi the high school light novel author and his little sister, secretly the titular Eromanga-sensei, who’s known for drawing absolutely sexually charged art work, to feel real and honest. Trouble is the series is really much better at one over the other.
Turning our attention to the other aspects that flesh the series out lets talk about the cast. Izumi is decent enough a straight man but hardly the series greatest pull. While his over the top reactions to certain outlandish situations make for great moments, it’s the supporting cast and Eromanga-sensei herself that are this anime’s greatest asset.
From Megumin, who wants everyone to think she’s worldly and sexually experienced, to Sagiri, Eromanga herself, and her absolutely perverted nature when she becomes focused on crafting raunchy art, these filthy characters are what give the series its morally questionable, yet oh so hilarious comedy. These characters are its strongest asset, but so rarely get the screen time they deserve. Instead the series tries to balance multiple other supporting characters to a detrimental affect.
Izumi gains two potential love interests, girls who have no chance due to the other aspect of the series, and neither provides the same level of entertainment. Muramasa and Elf are two rival authors for Izumi and would send the series straight into harem territory if either girl actually had the chance of winning his heart. Since neither girl is actually an option on the table, their love confessions to him mean very little and feel hollow without any real chance to win him over. Neither character provides much in the way of raunchy comedy, save for the bog-standard harem-esque gags.
Other characters serve even less a purpose. Izumi’s bookstore friend Tomoe, gradually disappears from the show and only reappears in its final episode for a brief cameo. Even worse, Shindou, a rare male author for the series, exist solely for homophobic gags and to keep the cast from feeling entirely female centric.
It’s this awkward balance, coupled with Eromanga’s double-sided nature that makes the show feel stunted, particularly for anyone disinterested in the series justification for two siblings, even if not related by blood, having romantic feelings for one another. In some ways Eromanga-sensei tries not to draw too much direct attention to this, and in other ways wants it clear that Izumi and Sagiri’s relationship is a-okay.
Eromanga never directly talks about their feelings for one another, but there’s plenty of subtext and developments to make it painfully clear that Izumi, and even Sagiri, only really have eyes for each other. This element is likely to be uncomfortable and pegs the series into a niche category, only for audiences who can either blissfully ignore the subtextual implications, or find such a relationship acceptable.
Compounding this angle is the series need to go into hammy, melodramatic, everyone is connected to everyone territory. People’s pasts are greatly intertwined, more so than initially let on. But it’s this need to force a deeper connection between Sagiri and Izumi that feels contrived. It’s another avenue through which to justify their pseudo-incestuous relationship and compounds the issue for anyone disinterested in this aspect of the series.
When pulled back from all that, Eromanga’s raunchy comedy is its greatest asset, one it chooses to go out on with its final episode, making for a great, if perverted, way to end the season. But the series all too often keeps the focus on Izumi rather than Sagiri. As the series goes through several arcs with Eromanga more firmly planted in the background, the anime gets a bit weak, moving off the questionable comedy that’s so oddly appealing.
It’s in these arcs Izumi is tested for his affection of Sagiri, either through writing a light novel manuscript that deeply hints at his great affection for his sister, or through fending off the love advances of his would-be harem. These arcs are dull, and generally devoid of the raunchy comedy Sagiri brings to the table.
Eromanga bounces around in quality and is likely to only truly appeal to one section of the anime fandom. A love of raunchy, sexually perverse comedy that crosses boundaries is a must, as that’s half the appeal. But audiences must also be at the very least indifferent or, even better, accepting of Izumi and Sagiri’s pseudo-incestuous relationship. If you meet both those requirements then you’ll find Eromanga has plenty of rib-tickling highs, and a few ho-hum generic, bog standard, vaguely harem-esque developments that feel overall weak compared to the rest of the anime’s offerings. Eromanga is a decent watch, but nothing truly memorable once we move on from the Spring 2017 season.
Take it or Leave it: Eromanga boasts raunchy, over the line sexual comedy peppered between otherwise ho-hum, generic harem-esque developments.