Long rambling post time...
I finished reading the final volume (number 12) of the OreImo novels last night. In Japanese, of course...I don't think the fan translations have gotten that far yet and there aren't any plans for an official English release. Feels like the end of an era since I've been working on these books for so long now. It's was the first novel series I really tried reading in Japanese and it certainly felt like quite an accomplishment at the time.
In any event, I think that like most people my first exposure to the series was the original anime season, which I enjoyed well enough for what it was, or at least what I thought it was (more on that later...). But I wasn't crazy about it or anything at the time. Then I got interested challenging myself to read novels in Japanese and ended settling on the OreImo series. Not going to lie, a big part of the reason why it was the first novel series I read in Japanese is simply because it was easier than others that I looked at. Down-to-earth setting, no special vocabulary, straightforward writing style. etc. These aren't necessarily things that make for great books, but they certainly do make for easier to read books, particularly when you aren't completely comfortable with the language. And believe me, reading novels is a lot harder than manga or something.
Somewhere along the line I started really getting into these books, eagerly anticipating every new volume. I even played both of the PSP games that were released. I'm still not going to claim that these books are anything groundbreaking, but the author certainly manages to craft a cast of memorable and likeable characters. It also walked this fine line between parody and pandering. There's a certain level of self-awereness that pervades the series, starting with the whole concept of having a little sister character who is obsessed with moe little sister characters (but doesn't act like one at all). And the constant "if this was an ero-game" references at least seemed aware the fact that life is not an ero-game and that a lot of the situations presented in such games are pretty absurd. So at the start I thought the series was firmly on the parody side of the line, but as it went on it began to resemble the things it was parodying more and more...
Which brings us to the final volume. Massive spoilers follow.
I have to give the author credit for ending the previous volumes in such a way that there were actually numerous, completely plausible directions he could have gone in the final arc. It's a great way to sell books, after all. Even so, I really didn't expect him to go the direction he did.
I don't know, Kyousuke obviously cared about his sister a lot and for her part Kirino wasn't really as tsun as she acted, but at the end of the day I still always saw them as family. In the past they had a falling out and over the course of the books they managed to reconcile a bit and be more honest with each other. But that doesn't mean they had [i]romantic[/i] feelings for each other. There's nothing wrong with family getting along better. No matter how much Kyousuke doted on Kirino I always interpreted that as just him being a nosy older brother. Honestly, I kind of thought that was one of the main points of this story! That life isn't an ero-game and one shouldn't automatically interpret things in a perverted way.
Apparently I was wrong.
Honestly, the fact that Kyousuke and Kirino started dating for real shocked me. It seemed like the least-plausible coupling to me. But nope, the author went there and went there big. Then I started to half-expect (OK, maybe more than half) an 11th hour Kyousuke-was-adopted-and-they're-not-really-blood-related reveal. It's not like the possibility hadn't been hinted at before and it seemed like the only possible way this could end well. But nope, they're honest-to-god siblings. Probably for the best, since that kind of twist would have been incredibly trite.
But it just makes the whole thing...uncomfortable. What's even the message of this story anymore, I don't know. At least they have enough sense to call it off at the very end, realizing that this isn't something they can do forever. But the final ending doesn't really resolve anything, and of course pleases none of the shippers (not that the author should necessarily be trying to please shippers...). It was awkward, uncomfortable, and inconclusive.
But, I guess at least somewhat realistic and certainly not like an ero-game. So I guess that's something.
So there ends my first ever light novel series I read in Japanese. It's memorable to me for that reason alone, but if nothing else the conclusion was certainly memorable in its own right.
Oh yeah, since this is an anime thread I guess I should talk about season 2 a bit. It's airing currently and frankly...I think it's a bit of a mess. I don't know, I hate to be one of those "the books are better" guys, and I don't even feel that way about the first season. The first season of the anime was great. But season 2 has all kinds of weird pacing issues, with them covering important events way too fast and then spending too long on stuff that doesn't really matter. Maybe it's because I already knew where things were going having read the first 11 volumes already (and now 12, but the anime hasn't gotten there yet...). And of course they're leaving the actual conclusion for OVA eps coming in August...weird thing to do. I think there was plenty of material for two more full seasons, and then maybe it would have been paced better.