If somebody would have told me a year ago that a show about a guy not trying to accidentally fuck his sister would end up an impenetrable psychological labyrinth rivaling that of Satoshi Kon’s masterworks, I would have been mildly perturbed at some stranger running up to me to scream something akin to “WHO IS IMOUTO IS DEEP SHIT, WATCH IT.”
If somebody did the same only a week ago, I still would have been unable to process what was being said. I mean how could a dull harem anime about an innocent teenager trying to avoid incestuous hi-jinks match up to the peerless mindfuckery of ‘Paprika’ and such? Well, episode two of ‘Who Is Imouto’ gave me my answer, and it’s every bit as disturbing and 100% not based on baseless speculation as one would expect it to be.
The first piece of evidence is also the most blatant: The imouto herself. Imouto is the drive for what I’d hesitantly call the plot, that which gives a reason for Shougo to proceed through his meticulously-structured, rigid life. It’s odd that she would seemingly only show up in his life while he’s grieving for his lost father, and then only a little while later when it’s learned that he’ll have to marry somebody at some point in his high school career; it’s too convenient to be a coincidence, too based around his own layered web of neuroses. Since the writing has been absolutely masterful so far, I can assume that this isn’t just a clichéd attempt at upping the stakes; it’s all to do with Shougo’s fractured, strained psyche, and some less-than-friendly sorts in his company.
Oddly enough, despite her effect on Shougo’s life, Imouto’s existence is debatable. While she taunts him with the possibility that she could be any of the girls that seem to express interest in him, there’s no concrete way to determine if he even has a sister past hearsay. For all he and the audience knows, she could be Mister X with an ulterior motive to usurp his position as head of the family, paying other girls to act suspicious around him in order to catch him at his most vulnerable. That’s right, ‘Who Is Imouto’ is ‘Perfect Blue’.
Thus, the clear answer is that she’s a manifestation of Shougo’s stress, a menacing specter that he attributes to every girl that shows the slightest bit of interest in him in order to give himself an excuse not to proceed with his father’s dying wish, not helped by others in his company that want to see him toppled before he can even assume a position of power. But is there any other rationality behind him being so reluctant to find a bride by the end of his high school career? Absolutely. Is it because he’s gay? Probably, yeah.
While harem leads being gay isn’t anything new (see every harem anime ever), very few shows choose to show how the lead’s sexuality, coupled with mental instability, leads to him demonizing every woman as an antagonistic little sister. Also, Mister X wants to be Shougo because of his luscious Flock of Seagulls hair, so she somehow has a stake in him failing to meet up to his father’s expectations.
There lies the solution to the show, presented thusly: Imouto’s just a figment of Shougo’s imagination, invented by others and given life by insecurities related to his sexuality. It’s a cynical coming out story, where the protagonist isn’t even aware of his own subconscious anxiety around the opposite sex. And again, Mister X is totally jealous of his hair.
Since I figured out the plot, we can all stop watching and declare it a masterpiece, right? Right?