Oreimo is a manga which starts well – high school boy Kyousuke discovers his fashionable (as in fashion model) and popular younger sister Kirino is secretly an otaku who is really into games with moe little sisters and decides to bond with her through her fandom while also covering for her with their parents – and then hits an ending where the brother ends up in an incestuous relationship where he ends up marrying that sister. One of the supporting characters in that work is Kuroneko – one of Kirino’s friends in otakudom, who also has a romantic interest in Kyousuke. Now, Oreimo Kuroneko dares to ask the question – what if instead of boning his sister, Kyousuke decides to court his sister’s classmate who is also into him instead.
So, for those with a semi-passing familiarity with the original series, Kuroneko is Ruri Gokou, and she’s basically a gothic lolita otaku who is also something of a chuunibyou. Okay, a lot of a chuunibyou. Like, she uses super melodramatic florid speeches in conversation, along with taking on a variety of personas based on what outfit she’s wearing.
All of this is done as a sort of mask to overcome her various social weaknesses, initially to show a false front of confidence in social situations, before being better able to appear in public as herself and using that as a front with circumstances involving relationships and dating, and finally just dating and intimacy.
This is all helped actually by Kyousuke basically being willing to generally roll with Kuroneko’s eccentricities, and not being particularly judgemental about it. Thus, because the narrative perspective is balanced equally between the two leads, it really helps things from potentially getting to WataMote levels of cringe.
As far as the romance itself goes, it’s a generally solid, sweet love story, and I appreciate the manga has the two characters confess and go on dates before the end of the series, even if they don’t spend as much time on the dating and relationship side as Toshiue no Hito does (and I’m not talking about the sex there – Toshiue no Hito sends a lot of time on the romance side of things along with the sex side)
Speaking of which, the manga does have a moderate amount of fanservice – no explicit nudity, but a fair amount of cheesecake swimsuit shots. I’d put it at a hard PG-13 – enough that it would cause people some problems, and certainly at a level where I could see some people not wanting to see them reading it over their shoulder on mass transit, but not enough to be actually smutty.
In all, I thought the manga was okay, and if you were disappointed by the direction the main series went, you might prefer this story instead.
Volume 1 of Oreimo Kuroneko is currently available in print and digital from Amazon.com. While the first volume is currently unavailable from RightStuf, the second volume is available in print. Buying anything through those links helps to support the site.