Plot: Yori has been in love with his twin sister, Iku, for as long as he can remember. When he finally reveals his feelings to her, Iku is shocked and their lives get increasingly complicated. Does Iku feel the same? Can this relationship ever work?
Breakdown: I want to make one thing clear right off the bat – I’m not against anime or any other form of media that explores taboo subjects. When done well, these stories can explore something risque that opens entirely new views on the subject at hand. Even particularly squicky topics like incest can be handled well and made to be interesting.
It’s important to address these topics. They may be uncomfortable to discuss, but they’re a part of life. Learning about and understanding something that many people don’t talk about can be incredibly valuable.
When done wrong, however, they can turn what would’ve been a meh or bad show into a horrible show.
That being said, I’ve been wanting to review this OVA ever since I watched it a few years ago. It is a shining example of how to tackle taboo subjects in the wrong way.
The biggest issue with this show is the main character, Yori. He is in love with his “younger” twin sister, Iku, and has been since he was a small child.
It was a little sweet to see Yori be so nice to Iku as kids. Even though he obviously had aspirations to make Iku his bride some day, it was still cute because that can really be brushed off as the musings of a child who simply doesn’t understand the norms of society and even, to a degree, nature. When we see Yori grown up, however, basically all sympathy and understanding for the guy goes up in smoke.
He’s a mean, jealous, angry little sack of crap who seems more in lust with Iku than he is in love.
Case and point, he uses some girl that has a crush on him, Tomoka, for sex in order to release some of his sexual tension geared towards Iku. But don’t worry, it’s not an asshole-ish thing to do because Tomoka is fully aware that he likes someone else and even asked to be a proxy for this girl, hoping that one day he’d fall in love with her, just because sex.
In regards to his jealousy, he flies off the handle at even the slightest hint of another guy showing interest in Iku, or Iku even contemplating having a non-descript boyfriend to the point where he’ll go into rage-fueled rants about who she may have in mind for this, even grabbing her and yelling in her face about it. After having a fantasy of him having sex with her, of course.
When he’s not doing that, he’s being overall unpleasant, never smiling and constantly being mean to basically everyone.
I believe the writers want us to feel like it’s understandable that Yori is such an undeniable douchenozzle because he’s been so frustrated for years that he loves/lusts after his sister yet can’t admit to those feelings. And if he does, not only does he have to worry about rejection, but he also has to worry about changing if not destroying his relationship to Iku because of this incredibly awkward situation.
I understand that loving someone and even lusting after someone for years and not being able to tell them has to be frustrating, but Yori is an unbelievably huge asshole about it. A ‘normal’ person would still try to be kind and friendly to the person to not harm their relationship.
You could say he’s being an asshole for the sake of keeping her at arms length to help stave his feelings, but he’s an asshole to everyone yet especially to Iku. At a certain point, it seems less like he’s doing this to prevent heartache and break, and more like ‘I want to stay as far away from you as possible because I’m afraid I’ll rape you.’ kind of thing. This is only further enforced by the fact that he’s constantly grabbing and restraining her against her will.
It’s possible that whatever love he had for Iku as a child mutated into whatever rape-y person he’s devolved into today, but that doesn’t give me any sense of sympathy for him or connection with him. The exact opposite is true. I severely dislike this guy from practically the first frame of his scowling face, and that turns into hatred before we even get to the halfway point.
You might be asking ‘Well, what of Iku? Surely she’s better.’ You’d think so, but honestly, no. She’s a crybaby and an idiot. She cries every five minutes over every last thing and has a really unhealthy dependency on her brother.
Despite showing zero signs of being romantically interested in Yori during the first fifteen minutes of the show, after he jumps her, suddenly professes his feelings and gives her an ultimatum in romantically loving him or not, a quick clip show of all the times in the show where he’s been a cold asshole to her, which are pretty much the only moments where they shared screentime so far, makes her reciprocate his feelings. Not only that, but when she realizes there might be something between Yori and his FwB, Tomoka, SHE starts flipping out and being an even bigger idiot.
Even after this, it becomes clear to Yori that Iku doesn’t really love him and that she might be forcing herself into it to make him happy, which pretty much makes her a big ol’ doormat.
Iku offers her body to Yori after she finds out that he plans to go to a high school that is very far away, likely to keep him from leaving. However, when he realizes she’s forcing herself into it for his sake, he stops and says he wants her to love him first.
Okay, this seems better…..but the way he acts when he’s doing it shifted from rape-y to serial-killer-y. He says he’s not content with just her body and that he wants her heart to be his as well when they do it. And then he says:
Yori: “Hurry up and fall in love with me as a man, because there is no man in the world who loves you as much as I do.”
I might be reading too much into that, but this scene really contrasts with everything we’ve seen of him so far. He’s been a complete dick with nothing but sex on his mind. He needed to use some deluded girl as a stand-in for Iku to get his rocks off, which still doesn’t seem good enough, and now he’s all lovey-dovey all of a sudden. It’s jarring and unsettling.
Then they get to a point where they insult their audience. They, now fully involved romantically, go back to a place where they used to always go as children.…
………..a field of little white clovers.
….in front of a church.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
After proclaiming Iku as his lover and not his little sister through a really corny and convoluted breakdown of the word ‘clover’, they go into the church…..to make out. Between attempting to have sex in their own bunk bed while their parents are home and this, they really suck at finding secret places to swap bodily fluids. “Secret sweethearts: Kind of a miracle this is even a slightly a secret”
And yes, for some dumb reason, these opposite gender teenage siblings not only still share a room but they also sleep on bunk beds.
Really, out of all of the places to secretly tongue wrestle, why a damn church? I get it – this is the church their parents got married in and where Yori made the declaration that he’d be Iku’s husband, but still. They both fully understand the social and religious taboos of incest yet they can’t be bothered to find a place other than a church to kiss? A church where they may be easily recognized? That’d be one hell of an awkward encounter with your local priest.
Oh wait, I can tell you why they chose to do this in a church. Because then they can throw a crapton of looming religious imagery at your face to remind you that what they’re doing is frowned upon in the eyes of God. Not only do we get imagery, we get talking statues reminding Iku that what they’re doing is icky.
I should mention that it’s never been established what religion they are, if they’re religious at all, but that’s not really the point. Do they really believe the audience is so dumb that we can’t understand that what they’re doing is taboo? They need to chuck talking angel statues and spinning camera techniques at us to make us understand the weight of it all?
Not only that, but, like I said, they needed to remind Iku of how icky this is so she’ll suddenly dump Yori since she can’t go through with this while they’re under the eyes of God.
Just when you think that Yori might actually be accepting of the fact that this can never work and seems ready to give up on it, he dumps Tomoka stating that he can’t accept any replacements as he can only be with the real deal. Tomoka freaks out about it, even though she knew full on what she was getting herself into. Hell, she’s the one who offered to be a stand-in.
After our rapiest scene so far, courtesy of Yori, he admits to Iku what he was doing with Tomoka and that he’s a terrible person. Well, give him credit for owning up to it. But in spite of it all, Iku still doesn’t seem like she can either forgive him or go through with their relationship.
Just when you think Iku might be giving up on this altogether, she brings him to a skeevy love hotel after school since that’s where he and Tomoka had sex. In order to counteract the Tomoka sex, she wants to have sex there too.
…….You remember how I said Yori was the biggest problem I had in this series? Iku earns second place. I know I’ve already explained what was mostly wrong with her character – whiny, crybaby, weird combination of manipulative doormat – but her character just keeps getting worse and worse.
Yori has been in love with her since he was a kid. His creepy feelings likely stem from an idealized and misguided childhood infatuation. Iku’s feelings stem from nothing. They could’ve kept going with the idea that she non-romantically loved her brother so much and she was so dependent on him emotionally that she felt like she needed to reciprocate his feelings in order to make him happy and keep him from leaving. But now they feel the need to make her be in love with him now as well.
I would say this love is stemming from jealousy of Tomoka, but it’s quite obvious that Yori is not in love with her. He even outright admitted that. Judging from how she’s been acting and the way she’s been talking, I’d say that those signs of jealousy of Tomoka are actually more possessiveness for Yori. She’s not jealous that Tomoka is/was dating him, especially considering that she holds no ill will towards Tomoka, she’s offended that Yori was being intimate with someone who wasn’t her. She wants complete claim over him.
The thing is, Iku doesn’t seem sexually charged towards Yori. Every time they’ve been close to having sex, and even in the scene where they actually have sex, she seems scared out of her mind and is constantly crying. Despite the fact that she agrees to have sex with him, she’s completely uncomfortable with the idea of him seeing her even partially nude, which raises a red flag with me. She doesn’t really seem like she wants to have sex with him. She’s either doing this to, again, make Yori happy or to stake a claim on Yori. She was perfectly fine just kissing him and stuff and being with him before she heard that he slept with Tomoka and then, boom, let’s go to a love motel.
As the sex scene goes on, we get talked to like idiots again.
Yori: Narration – “What we have done is taboo.”
NO. WAY. Incest is taboo?
Yori starts crying because, now that he’s gotten everything he’s ever wanted, he still intends on leaving because their relationship is unnatural and he could never give Iku happiness.
But maybe it’s a good thing that he’s leaving because, even in spite of being a consensual relationship, he still seems to have abusive asshole behavior lying within him with this line.
After he explains to his best friend, Yano, about the situation, Yano asks why he’s still leaving if he loves Iku.
Yori: “Sometimes, my feelings of wanting to protect Iku with everything that I have, clash with feelings of wanting to destroy something.”
And that pretty much sums up why this guy is so creepy and deplorable. It’s not the fact that he’s in love with his sister. It’s the rape-y abusive asshole part that makes you want to turn this thing off.
Oh yeah, Yano, let’s talk about him for a minute seeing as how that’s about the amount of time he gets on screen. Yano seems to be a pretty cool guy. Wanna know how cool? Yori admits his feelings for Iku and even tells him that they had sex…..and he’s not only totally cool with it but he’s also not really surprised. He talks about it like it’s any other relationship. That’s about it.
For more on Iku’s possessiveness, we get this next line. At Yori and Iku’s graduation, Yori gives away all the buttons on his school shirt to the girls because he’s….. popular? I think? They never established such a thing, but okay.
In Japan, it’s a tradition for boys to give their second school uniform button to a special girl that they consider their loves at graduation as a means of confession. Specifically the second button down since it’s the closest button to the heart and is said to hold the feelings built up from the years in school. I get the symbolism with losing all the buttons, even though it may just be blatant fanservice with his open shirt, but given the tradition I don’t get it. The best thing I can find for the other buttons is some people give them to friends.
Anyway, she sees his lack of buttons and says this;
Iku: “Why are there no buttons? Don’t let other girls touch you!”
If what I’ve researched is true, I don’t see why she doesn’t assume some of them weren’t given to guys. The second one is the only one meant to be linked to romance. Though that does leave the question of where his second button went.
Iku has a hissy fit about him leaving, and he later tells her that he’s leaving because they can’t be a normal couple where they live now. Since everyone knows them and knows they’re siblings, they can’t do the smallest romantic gestures without experiencing the social stigma of such a thing, which is totally not what he said earlier.
He basically said he was leaving because he was afraid he’d end up hurting someone or Iku because of his intense passion. Now he’s not only giving a totally different reason but he’s also telling her to meet with him again so they can be a normal couple in a different place? Does he no longer care about his “feelings of wanting to destroy something”? What a creepy son of a bitch.
The OVA also start flipping on the comedy switch here. This show has been nothing but melodrama this entire time. Not one comedic moment or joke has occurred until this point and all of a sudden we get surprise puppies, pratfalls, Iku hiding Yori’s luggage, their father hiding his shoes, and cartoon-y art in several places. Just as soon as it started, it stops. What the hell happened?
Yori sets off for high school, and just Iku touching his arm as he gets in the car makes him say this.
Yori: “Don’t touch me. Mom and dad will think it’s weird.”
Yeah because it’s totally unreasonable for a sister to hug her brother when he’s moving away, especially when they’re close twins.
Just in case you still felt like Tomoka was a decent character, she arrives at the train station to stop Yori from leaving. As she hugs Yori, she glares at Iku, indicating that she realizes that the girl Yori liked this whole time was Iku and this hug is partially to spite Iku. See? That’s jealousy.
Yori pushes Tomoka away, hugs his father and mother to make it more socially acceptable to hug Iku I guess. They hug, he gives her a kiss on the cheek and then he leaves, the end.
Before I get to the bottom line, let’s explore what this series really didn’t feel like talking about and that’s the psychology of incest. Prepare for uncomfortable education!
Anime is no stranger to incest. It’s…odd, but true. This is anything from heavy incestuous overtones like Shugo and Rena from .Hack//Twilight to downright blatant incest like Yuka and Kouta from Elfen Lied. The difference here is that the incest angle is usually shooed away a bit by saying they’re not fully blood related or they didn’t grow up together. Still icky, but toned down because of technicalities. However, there might be more to at least the second excuse than merely toning down the ick factor.
Incest is taboo for several reasons. It creates a high chance of birth defects, religions usually don’t tolerate it, and we’ve all been taught throughout our lives that it’s simply not accepted in society. For the most part, we accept this just fine because people don’t usually have sexual or romantic attractions to people they’re related to. Some of this may be contributed to something called the Westermarck Effect or reverse sexual imprinting.
The Westermarck effect is a psychological theory that suggests that people may become desensitized to sexual attraction to people of the opposite sex if they spend prolonged periods of time with that person as a young child, supposedly from the ages of birth to six years.
People who are related yet don’t grow up alongside each other and meet later in life may experience something called genetic sexual attraction or GSA. GSA occurs when relatives who didn’t spend much, if any, time together as children actually experience high levels of sexual attraction due to their similar facial features and possibly similar interests and experiences. I believe this may be one of the reasons why the go-to incest angles for anime and even some western shows is usually the cousin. Just far enough apart genetically to avoid some of the ick factor while also removing most of the childhood aspect from the picture.
In contrast to the Westermarck effect are the well-known theories of Sigmund Freud whose motto is ‘everything in your life amounts to your desire to bone your mom.’ Freud’s theories, shockingly enough, pointed to natural lust between family members that nearly everyone has yet is covered up due to the taboo of incest. Freud believed this taboo was created to help tamper down instances of incestuous relationships for the sake of healthy reproduction, religious taboos and other reasons. However, the Westermarck effect has even challenged this theory. Taking a note from Wiki, the psychologist Steven Pinker wrote in his book ‘How the Mind Works‘;
“The idea that boys want to sleep with their mothers strikes most men as the silliest thing they have ever heard. Obviously, it did not seem so to Freud, who wrote that as a boy he once had an erotic reaction to watching his mother dressing. But Freud had a wet nurse and may not have experienced the early intimacy that would have tipped off his perceptual system that Mrs. Freud was his mother. The Westermarck theory has out-Freuded Freud.”
In essence, there’s really no worse setup that this show could’ve created in terms of a realistic incestuous relationship. Despite the title, the two siblings are twins, meaning they’re the exact same age. They grew up alongside each other since they were born with no difference in their ages.
Taking the Westermarck effect as mostly gospel and believing that the cutoff for its effects is six years old, the way they could’ve gone about this in a more realistic way would be to have Yori actually be the older sibling. Make Yori at least seven or something when Iku is conceived. That would help account for at least Yori’s lust/love for Iku. And to make it less squicky in regards to loving someone so much younger than Yori, maybe have them both be in their twenties when the attraction starts or at least when they get together?
I know this still leaves the issue of Iku’s feelings, but I don’t really think it matters much. She’s so wishy washy in what she actually wants. She wants Yori to stay with her and loves him deeply, but she doesn’t show much in terms of sexual attraction to him and her romantic feelings are highly questionable.
Or go the obvious route and head for GSA. Keep them as twins, but make them separated at birth for some reason and meet each other later in life. Yori and Iku can still develop both romantic and sexual feelings for each other while keeping the incest angle intact. If the childhood connection thing is important, have them meet at like ten or something and have Yori’s feelings develop through puberty.
I think this series is so widely known and somewhat well-received because of the fact that it is throwing focus onto a no-holds barred fully blood related, twins no less, pairing that grew up together from birth. And I understand that. It’s nice to give some applause for simply acknowledging that they had the balls to do something like that.
Except for one itty bitty thing.
They’re not 100% blood related in the manga. They’re half-siblings with different fathers. How is that possible when they’re twins? It’s incredibly rare, but it is possible. When a woman has sex with two different men in the time frame of, at most, one week, she can get pregnant from both of them. One egg gets fertilized from one man and another egg by the other, creating something called heteropaternal superfecundation.
After looking it up, this is indeed how they were conceived, but I won’t spoil who the second father is.
Art and Animation: The background art is very nice and detailed. I really love the art and animation for the hair. It’s beautifully done…..however, the faces….ech. I was so distracted by the terrible art for the faces. By all means, it looks like it’s trying to be typical shoujo style, but the lips are huge and oddly shaded at points. The noses seem overly big and oddly shaped from the front. The eyes, as silly as it seems to note this in an anime, seem too big and oddly shaped for their heads.
Music: The OP is fine, albeit a bit over dramatic with violin music. The BG music is forgettable. I didn’t care for the ED. It sounded like several songs overlaying each other in the beginning.
Voice Acting: Japanese – A bit overly dramatic, but they were probably directed that way. Everyone was fine in their roles.
Bottom Line: This is a terribly written show with poorly written characters that you want to smack with the only redeemable one being Yano, and there’s even a hint of something off about him near the end. He also gets little screentime so it doesn’t matter.
What could’ve been an interesting look at a taboo topic instead of the insipid incest pairings we get in anime purely for the sake of shock value and adding naughtiness to a pairing for the sake of pervs just turned out to be an uncomfortable show about people you will grow to hate quickly with incest thrown in as conflict. Siblings or not, these people can kiss my ass.
The Tomoka conflict, if you can call it that, was basically unneeded. They could’ve done something better with it, like put more focus on him trying his best to use her as a substitute for Iku and trying his hardest to love her, but nope. He bangs her and only a few days later, after 15 years of being in love with her, kisses Iku and confesses his feelings to her just because she started crying after he was being an asshole to her yet again. Then Tomoka turns around and seems to turn into a bitch once she realizes that Iku is the one he’s in love with, despite the fact that she instigated their whole relationship as a substitute deal.
Yori is terribly inconsistent with his character outside of his assholeish behavior, and Iku is basically the same way only replace ‘assholeish’ with ‘whiny and useless’.
This is just a poor story all around. I will be reading the manga for the AniManga Clash and possibly in hopes of finding something more redeemable about this series, but as it stands, it’s just not worth anyone’s time.
Additional Information and Notes: Boku wa Imouto ni Koi wo Suru was based on a manga by Kotomi Aoki. It was directed by Mayumi Nishimoto and it was produced by Shogakukan.
In 2007, a live-action version was created and produced yet again by Shogakakun. It was directed by Hiroshi Ando.
Runtime: 50 minutes
Recommended Audience: The subject matter alone is enough to nudge this towards an older audience, but there are also several sex scenes. Nothing is shown graphically, but they’re still there. Yori can also be somewhat rough during these sex scenes and even crosses the line into assault once or twice. 14+
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