For the second consecutive season, Silver Link rescues yet another rotting genre of Japanese animation – OniAi may be classified as a “harem” series, however the only standards it follows are ones it makes itself.
Based on prior works, it should be well-understood that the “Silver Link” name is synonymous with a level of aesthetics no less than masterful – and indeed, one can feel the shuddering intensity of raw and unadulterated waves of incredible sweeping through as the opening seconds of this series initiate.
Vivid colors account for a near-entirety of the palette utilized – and combining that with the smile packed upbeat city theme, alongside the delicate movements of finer details as they respond to their surroundings, a dynamic sensation of life starts to surround one as they watch.
The setting feels alive – it encompasses us within a friendly world, and solidly lays the foundation for a lighthearted series. Yet additionally, while the setting may feel alive, our heroine is even livelier than that. The city is bustling, but our Akiko-chan is even more so bouncy as she makes her way through it – which besides satisfying through cuteness, is a thundering technique of visual comparison between foreground and background in order to develop our heroine’s character, all within the first 60 seconds of the series no less.
Not even past the first minute, and Silver Link is already taking advantage of intricate and thoughtful methods to meaningfully progress aspects of the series through visuals – a true display of expertise in animation.
In fact, the opening minutes of the episode are all spent on threshing out our heroine’s character by way of visual rhetoric – making it clear to us that our lovely leading girl is a clumsy, ridiculously cute bishoujo who seems like an innocent airhead. Yet as one will come to see, this is simply a slice of her personality – the series is preparing to show us a hard contrast.
As Akiko continues to swiftly trek through the city, she’s repeatedly caught in silly spots here and there – till finally, she stands in front of a door, fidgeting anxiously before making any further motion. She hesitates prior to making an effort to open this entry into a new life – yet before she actually manages to do so, a fellow from the inside opens it to find our bishoujo. Apparently, it’s a homecoming – our imouto heroine is now to take residence with her onii-chan once more after a lengthy time living away from this beloved brother of hers.
At this point, adding to her clumsiness and innocence, it seems she’s also quite elegant – one will take note that her manner of speech, as well as her general action and responses, are highly eloquent and ladylike. She’s made out to be a truly refined young woman in every respect – yet then it’s little more than a second later that reality raids the place, and the darker side of the imouto starts to shimmer.
A tiring day of reunion, Mr.Onii-chan suggests to his imouto that the two take a bath – and invites his cute little imouto to go first. She seems a bit baffled for reasons one might question, yet then she accepts the offer – oblivious that there’s actually a terrible misconception of “living together” between herself and her brother, terrible in all the right ways. This upstanding young woman of an imouto, with a fairly affluent vibe, apparently has a shameless side – she loves her onii-chan, and she’s explicit about it.
After sitting in the bath lonesomely for a while, she eventually wraps herself in a towel and angrily stomps out to where her onii-chan sits relaxing – suddenly lashing out at him furiously for not making any attempt to peek on her whilst she was bathing. Now most unfortunately for her, her onii-chan is what one would call “a normal guy” – this crude and sickening fellow brings logic to the table to deny his imouto’s desires.
Now although she fails this first round, as the fellow ultimately never enters the restroom while she’s bathing, the imouto is certainly not to be defeated so easily. Regardless of what manner of disagreement or adversity may cross her path, it holds no impact of hindrance on her romance. Akiko’s seemingly pleased so long as she can enjoy time with her onii-chan – however, that simple dream is ruined immediately.
Disrupting the perfect life through an abrupt intercession is the sporadic introduction of a group of disgusting villains – the student council of the relevant highschool inject themselves into the lives of our heroine and her onii-chan. Imouto and onii-chan are part of the seitokai, and it seems their comrades want in on the action.
Whilst they’re not necessarily portrayed in this manner, one will be burning with spite towards these additional harem members depending on whether one places their admiration foremost on the imouto. In other words, they may either be viewed as much welcomed additions, or horrible antagonists deserving of death.
Whilst OniAi contains multiple female love interests, it feels almost inappropriate to call it a “harem” when considering the garbage which goes under that label – OniAi is definitely not like any of it. First of all, our leading male isn’t even the main focus – and he’s no expendable fellow either, nor an indecisive wimp, or any of that, he’s just a regular young man with a sense of responsibility to take care of his even younger sister.
Crazy as it sounds, he’s an adolescent aged anime character with reasonable competence.
He doesn’t bother getting into any of the childish arguments one will often see in any other given harem series – as believe it or not, this fellow is a realistic thinker. He loves his imouto as a sister, and that’s all there is to it – likewise, the student council characters seem as little more than friends to him, as per this first episode, despite whatever they themselves may feel.
As one will notice, the student council crew is a pack of various females with different physical attributes – and they all seem intent on living the typical harem lifestyle, yet the reason that’s not happening is because the graceful mouto character is simply not willing to stand for it. Essentially, aside from how our protagonist already seems uninterested for the most part, the imouto is the odd piece preventing this from becoming an oil spill in a river of oil.
She’s direct about her sentiments – she loves her onii-chan, and she’s going to continually press forward till he eventually accepts her love, or one of them dies, whichever may come first. She couldn’t care less what others think – and the series’ main point of focus is her conquest in getting her onii-chan to recognize her love as something intimate beyond family, and more specifically, the methods she goes about it, as well as the subsequent results and intermittent details.
Most harem series are paced to be an accelerated slapstick comedy show – yet that’s not the case here at all. OniAi is a subtle moving slice of life with an emphasis on the process of relationship – rather than any particular action, or underwear, for that matter.