Title: Oreimo: Kuroneko
Publisher: Dark Horse
Writer: Tsukasa Fushimi
Artist: Sakura Ikeda
Letterer: Susan Daigle-Leach
Cover Artist: Sakira Ikeda
Oreimo Kuroneko is based on the Light novel series by the famed Tsukasa Fushimi. Consider Fushimi the Mark Millar (well as big as Millar would be if he wrote Manga in that industry)of Japan. He has created a huge media franchise that spans more than just manga. Oreimo Kuroneko is the sequel to the original Oreimo manga started by Fushimi. It still focuses on the siblings Kyosuke and Kirino Kosaka.
Many of my students have recommended manga titles to me over the years. I have read a few and walked away realizing that if I wanted to become interested in any of the titles, I really have to immerse myself in the series. The stories are complicated and highly structured. The universe some of these titles are centered in are detailed and tap into pop culture, pre-modern Japan, and the histories of several of Japan’s provinces. I appreciate that many of my students have taken the time to dig into these stories.
On the surface, Oreimo Kuroneko seems childish. I had to muddle through the teenage angst. Like any teenager, both Kosaka siblings are worried about how their peers might perceive them. This probably explains why manga is so popular among teenagers in the United States. While it took me several pages to get the gist of the story, I did get comfortable. There are moments where the supporting cast provide the humor to Kosakas’ angst. It comes off as more of a sitcom than anything.
The artwork is amazing. Sakura Ikeda’s pencils and inks are flawless. I enjoy the splash pages and half panels where Ikeda zooms in the characters and provides no background. It really provides context and displays the emotion even there are no words being spoken. If there is anything I always dug about manga is the artwork. Ikeda exemplifies that tradition. Usually, I don’t pay much attention to lettering despite the fact that I came up as a tagger in New York City, but Susan Daigle-Leach’s letters do stand out. My students advised that this is par for the course in manga. It took me a second to realize that visually the letters have to pop out the page since we clumsy Americans have to read manga from back to front. This worked well.
Overall, I ended up not enjoying Oreimo Kuroneko. There was just too much dialogue for my taste. As a middle-aged adult with teenage children, the teenage angst is something I am trying to forget. I did read this trade paperback format over and over to make sure I got the story straight. I also have to remind myself that I am not the audience for Oreimo Kuroneko. This probably explains why I really didn’t “get it.”
Finally, my biggest gripe with this story is the sexually explicit nature of the scenes. There are several close-ups of school girl crotches and back sides. While there is no nudity, the implication is there. Maybe I am being a curmudgeon, but I think there is a way to express sexual attraction without all of these visuals. My students tell me this is normal in manga and it’s something I should get over. However, if you are unfamiliar with the Light novels, I recommend starting with those stories before jumping into Oreimo Kuroneko.