Comic Books Magazine

Oreimo: Kuroneko Review

Posted on the 16 April 2015 by Kaminomi @OrganizationASG

Oreimo: Kuroneko ReviewTitle: Oreimo: Kuroneko
Genre: Comedy, Seinen
Story/Artist: Tsukasa Fushimi/Sakura Ikeda
Publisher: ASCII Media Works (JP), Dark Horse (US)
Serialized in: Dengeki G’s Magazine
Release Date: April 15, 2015
Review copy provided by the publisher.

Almost two years later the Oreimo franchise and I meet again, this time for Dark Horse’s newest spinoff series, Oreimo: Kuroneko. Originally titled Ore no kouhai ga konnani kawaii wake ga nai! or My Junior Can’t Be This Cute!, we’re re-introduced to the still bland Kyousuke and the decidedly less bland frienemy of his sister Kirino, Kuroneko. With Kirino out of the picture for now, Kuroneko is up to her own adventures. Ultimately to its credit, Oriemo: Kuroneko has taken one of the more interesting characters from the original series and refreshed her, making this an entertaining read and a nice dip back into the franchise.

Very early on we quickly realize Kuroneko is very nervous. She’s practiced her class introduction over and over again the mirror, but the first day at a new school is still wrecking her nerves, especially knowing that a certain Kyousuke will be there. Kirino has left to study abroad since we last saw the crew, and in the meantime Kuroneko has transferred to Kyousuke’s school. To him, she’s always been the cool and cat-eared Kuroneko, but will Kyousuke recognize plain ol’ Ruri Gokou in a regular school uniform? How can Kuroneko remain mysterious and make friends? And what’s this about creating a manga?

I have to be honest here: If there has to be an Oreimo spin-off, thank sweet, sweet God it doesn’t focus on Kyousuke. I don’t remember being quite so irked by his blandness in prior volumes, but I can barely stand him in this series. Can we remove him and make the series just about the girls, please? Thankfully I remember enough of the original series to know that Kuroneko, or Ruri in real life, was one of the most entertaining characters of that bunch, and thank goodness she’s the focus here. She’s quirky and funny but insecure, and while I wish she’d just fully commit to being who she is, Kuroneko is great in that she has her own goals and dreams, one of which is to create a full-fledged manga series.

The bulk of Volume 1 deals with Kuroneko adjusting to her new school and being around Kyousuke, but the last third deals with shopping her manga series to an editor. Unfortunately it’s obvious that she has feelings for bland ol’ Kyousuke and seeks his approval — a source of friction between her and his sister Kirino in the original series — but at least the manga plot line makes the story more than, “What will Kyousuke think of me today?” Kyousuke swoops in to save the day more than once, whether it’s reminding Kuroneko to not respond so abrasively to friendly invitations or whether it’s encouraging her towards her dreams. If anything, I’m hoping she finds her own two feet and launches off on her own, but everyone needs a little encouragement now and then, I suppose.

Overall, I’m glad to see Oreimo: Kuroneko here in English. I have mixed feelings about the Oreimo franchise in general, but Kuroneko was the best choice for a spin-off. At five volumes, I’m looking forward to seeing the rest.

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