Is the only direction a younger sister can take in anime a sexual one?

Every time a show about ‘sisters’ comes out, you can almost immediately point out that it will involve incestuous themes at one point or another, usually with the sister , the younger sister taking the initiative. It’s never the older brother who tells the sister he loves her (it hardly ever happens), and even if it does happen the sister is in dominance. So I wondered : “Is the only purpose of a younger sister-type character sexual/incestuous?”

Honestly, I don’t know. Perhaps it’s just me. Perhaps I’m getting this thought simply because there are tonnes of ecchi shows out there which seem to contain this trope. But this trope isn’t simply limited to ecchi anime alone. Shows from various genres include examples of incestuous relationships, ALWAYS “older-brother and younger-sister.” Shakugan no Shana had the twins, Tiriel and Sorath, who (if I remember correctly) french kissed on screen, much to the disgust of Shana.

In the past year alone, there had already been more than one show which involve incestuous feelings between sister and brother. Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake Ga Nai (taken from wikipedia, who remembers how to spell its full name?) may not have went straight down the full-blown incest route in the end, but it’s already been strongly hinted at throughout the series, and probably in the light novel. I expect an incestuous route in the PSP game.

Kiss x Sis is an obvious choice for this case, since not only are the sisters open about their love for their brother, trying on multiple occasions to initiate his rite of passing (nudge, nudge.) Surprisingly, their parents seem to even be SUPPORTIVE of this affair, even betting with neighbours which sister their son would pick. Yosuga no Sora had the sister stripping because she felt her brother was getting more and more distant.

Let’s say you can name a nice number of younger sister characters. Chances are, most of those are involved in some taboo relationship or another, usually an incestuous one. Are there any good younger sisters (with a lead role) that aren’t involved in an incestuous relationship?

I’ll tell you why I added in the word ‘good’ before ‘younger sisters’. Answer’s simple : incestuous relationships are taboo, and thus this creates tension , plot, and drama  – while possibly satiating some of the male watchers who let their lower organ do all the thinking for them.

In the first episode of Oniichan no Koto Nanka Zenzen Suki Janain Dakara ne, upon being told of the truth behind her real parents, Nao immediately starts thinking of multiple scenarios. One of them was something along the lines of ‘running away and moving to a city where no-one knows them so they can have their taboo relationship in peace.’ Incestuous relationships are special because they involve lovers, but unable to meet due to societal norms (they are siblings. ) Thus the plot and the actions taken by the characters hereafter would be centred around getting across this barrier or getting their feelings across.

If you’ve read my previous post on why we relate to fictional characters, the argument put across was that by suspending our senses of belief ,we feel emotions for a character involved in a particular thought/ situation, i.e. of unfair treatment, of being cheated on, etc. In this case, an incestuous relationship would closely resemble one of unrequited/ impossible love. A relationship like that is clearly inconceivable – but as we care for the characters, we want their relationship to end on a happy note – thus emerges the younger-sister heroine. As for other characters, i.e. Sorath , we don’t feel this same sense of wanting them and liking them to be together. As for why , I suggest an alternative explanation : as we do not feel for – and perhaps , are against- the characters in question, we probably wouldn’t be as approving of their relationships as we would have been otherwise.

However, shows could dump the whole ‘building a relationship’ scheme completely in favour of chasing an ecchi approach instead…

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22 Responses to Is the only direction a younger sister can take in anime a sexual one?

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Is the only direction a younger sister can take in anime a sexual one? | Ambivalence , or is it ambiguity? --

  2. misterowl24 says:

    hmm…. Ako & Riko of Kissxsis are older sisters and they knew they are not blood related from the start. Good younger sister that I can think of is Ui (K-ON).

    Why incestuous sister? Maybe this can never happen in real life so they want to explore more in the 2D world.

    Why girls take initiative? Because most lead male have brains denser than lead.

    • Valence says:

      Not blood-related, but they have been in a brother-sister relationship and are by law, siblings, so it stills enter the realm of the taboo.

      We never see lesbian little sisters do we? Aside from Queen’s Blade of course…

      And I suppose partially it’s to make those siscons happy…

  3. lvlln says:

    It’s not really mentioned much, but Shiki of Kara no Kyoukai is a little sister with no feelings for her older brother… or for anyone other than Mikiya. Of course, the same work contains Azaka, one of the most creepy instances of the brocon little sister, one of the few who is actually blood related.

    • Valence says:

      True, true, Shiki has good characters. . . but I think this argument better fits shows which include siblingship as a theme, such as the examples above. It’s in these shows where the incest route seems like the only route possible..

  4. hurin says:

    There is Bakemonogatari, the main character not only has no interest in his two younger sisters, but when his girlfriend brings the topic up, he explains that only people with no sisters would entertain such fantasies. The sisters have no lead role so far though.

    Another one is Kannagi, boy must share his house with a god posing as a human girl. She explains to people she is the boys sister, there is nothing going on between them, but his best friend thinks there is.

    • Valence says:

      Both I had wanted to include in the post as possible rebuttals, but they don’t really fit the argument on retrospect.

      Bakemonogatari’s little sisters hardly had much of a role at all, much less a ‘lead role’. And we know Nagi isn’t his sister, so it isn’t that much of a big deal in Kannagi. What I meant is a relation by blood, coupled with a leading role.

  5. lvlln says:

    Ironically, this trope is avoided in the Haruhi series. Death Note is another example. Along with Bakemonogatari, these seem to show that, as long as there’s sufficient age difference between the little sister and the main character, the trope is avoided.

    The only example I can think of where the ages are close together is Miya in Amagami SS, where she’s just a year younger but has no brocon tendencies.

    • Valence says:

      Thank goodness it was avoided in the Haruhi series – I can’t imagine Kyon’s little sister wanting to go on a incestuous relationship with Kyon. (Although I suppose it would be funny to watch….)

      You’re right. Even Japan has its limits when it comes to incest, and if the age difference is far too much they’re just stepping into dangerous territory.

      And it appears that the best sibling characters are hardly incestuous, when you think of it objectively. We have Grave of the Fireflies, where the sister dies (rather tragic.), funny ones like Miya and et cetera.

  6. Niku says:

    I found a number of examples:
    1)Seita and Setsuko from Grave of the Fireflies
    2)The Parro twins Rinda and Remus from Guin Saga
    3)Ookamikakushi’s Hiroshi and Mana
    4)Chuu-Bra (though perverted for other reasons) had Keigo and Nayu, which is of particular note since she would try on his samples and he never saw her as anything more than his sister, even with their parents gone

    The rest are minor characters; Kyon’s younger sister from Haruhi is nothing more, Oz’s younger sister Ada from Pandora Hearts was simply overjoyed to see him after he was trapped in the Abyss for 10 years, etc.

    • Valence says:

      Minor characters aside, (Mana’s kind of a minor character too, when you think about it) , like what lvlln had said above, if the age gap is sufficiently large the trope has no chance of materializing. Same goes if they are too young. Seita and Setsuko was great characters. Keigo was much more older than Nayu, which completely avoids the trope.

  7. Mikeski says:

    Ms. Lyrical Nanoha had nothing to do with her older brother.

    Cardcaptor Sakura has every bizarre relationship pairing except this one, right? Her older brother is creepily overprotective of Sakura, but there’s no romance.

    Sae’s younger sister in Hidamari Sketch (Sae’s female, but likely bats for the other team.)

    • Valence says:

      Sae’s younger sister…I suppose she’s fine, but what I’m looking for are sister-elder brother relationships.

      In CS, her brother is indeed creepily overprotective of Sakura, but thankfully, there isn’t much ‘romance’.

  8. Fabrice says:

    Anything sibling is disgusting. seriously
    even not blood related or a sister from another mother or wtf.
    having a sister myself and thinking about this makes me want to puke..

  9. Azure Hoshizora says:

    Looking on the bright side, there’s nothing about little brothers~
    *remembers Aki Sora* Oh wait…

    and “who remembers how to spell its full name?”

  10. Yi says:

    There are plenty of anime with little sisters that don’t take an incestuous route as others have already mentioned. I think the few that do do the incest thing get a lot of talk around it, so it may seem like all imouto in anime are sexualized. But there really are quite a few imoutos in anime who are just nice imouto. Nanoha is a prime example.

    Still, many anime that focus around older brother-younger sister sibling relationships tend to go with the brother-complex theme. There seems to be an especially high number of these recently.

    • Valence says:

      Problem is a large number of these shows have the siblings as minor characters. What I’m talking about are the big ones – the ones that star in every episode. I guess imouto in anime are sexualized to satiate the needs of the siscons watching the shows, anyway. However, I suppose it’s true that some sisters aren’t sexualized (I can’t imagine sexualization in Grave of the Fireflies.)

      It’s always brother-complex in the show, which appeals to sister-complexes watching the show. It’s never much of a ‘sister-complex’ going behind the scenes, huh.

  11. ariannasterling says:

    Other than the obvious few (Kyon’s little sis) I really can’t think of any good little sisters…uhm…see, now I’m going to be wracking my brain trying to come up with–WAIT. Kari from Digimon. I feel better now.

  12. Nopy says:

    The other commenters have pointed out examples where the little sister has nothing to do with incest, but I do think that the trend for brother x sister relationships seems to be on the rise recently. It’ll probably fade away after a few years like most other trends in anime.

    • Valence says:

      In shows where sisters feature heavily , there’s usually incest involved…I don’t wish for it to fade away – I’d rather have it go lighter, so it isn’t as messed up as Ochinko…

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