Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Spring 2010 - Kiss×sis

For some time, anime has been venturing in certain topics that would be considered taboo in certain cultures. Go to a Toranoana store or a three-day Comiket weekend, and if you aren't expecting it, you'd be blindsided by fetish upon fetish. Cross-dressing, yuri, yaoi, lolicon--the envelope has been pushed over and over, but there really hasn't been an anime TV or OAV series out there that has pushed the moe and incest Venn diagram so close that the two circles overlap.

I'm not suggesting there should be any overlap, but in the span of a year, we're getting TWO series focusing on forbidden relationships between siblings (Akisora will be released in the summer). Based on the initial suggestions of the Kissxsis (pronounced "kiss-sis") TV series, that seems to be two too many.

To some in Japan, this may be old hat and not such a big deal. After all, incest, in itself, isn't exactly the biggest end-all taboo in Japan. Heck, without spoiling too much, the suggestions of brotherly/sisterly love have even been approached in anime such as Durarara!, but the subject has never really breached anime as the main topic in a series. In a very literal sense of the word, Kissxsis really doesn't count as "incest"--those involved are step-siblings and not blood-relatives--but the act that this is pushing "sisterly love" is seen in the title itself.

The manga from Bow Ditama was originally released as a one-shot manga way back in 2004. The serialization itself surprisingly ran along with the OAV last year, as later manga tankôbon volumes were released with an anime DVD. The animated TV show tells the story from its own beginning, directed by Munenori Nawa, the director of shows such as Da Capo and Otome wa Boku ni Koishiteru. Studio Feel, which also was involved with both of these shows, is involved with the production.

There's not that much to really cover in terms of plot. The main character Keita is the youngest kid in a rebuilt family, his father marrying a woman with twin daughters of her own. Like many twins in anime, these girls are diametrically opposite to one another; Ako is the sensible half of the two and exhibits talent in cooking and housework, while Riko is more of a blunt and tomboyish sort who speaks honestly, but exhibits a shyer side. Both girls seem to have closeted sides to them and dote heavily on Keita, causing the younger stepbrother to have attractions for them that he initially abhors.

Of course, it wouldn't be an anime if it ended there. Keita's father and the twins' mother agree that Keita should and will marry one of the girls in the future, so the anime turns into a competition between Ako and Riko, both looking to tempt Keita. Keita seems to have a clear tongue fetish himself, as some of the kissing scenes alone are mighty graphic, and much of the first three episodes cover the twins plotting to make Keita their own, all while Keita just wants to study for high-school exams.

The series ain't shy. Some of the subject matter gets pretty heavy without getting past softcore porn, but there's also no real attempt to shy away from the taboos or remind the viewer that they are not blood relatives. Keita appears to be one of the weakest main characters in recent memory--while he doesn't come unglued like super-perverts of the past, he's also completely bereft of any sort of willpower. The guy caves to kisses from his "sisters" like he was tissue paper.

The ultimate sign that Kissxsis has already jumped the shark? By Episode 3, the overused banana phallic symbol has already made its appearance. What was once the staple for Eiken has become a gag in Kissxsis, complete with chocolate...ahem. (I think you can guess what I mean.)

Unlike Eiken, however, Kissxsis seems to be serious with its attempt to tell the story of a brother and his two horny stepsisters without venturing into actual sexual situations. That's too bad, considering that some of the situations are totally unfathomable (Ako uses her body as a notepad to teach Keita English, while Riko tries to tempt Keita with chocolate lipstick). However, in the end, it is just another series trying to capitalize on sophomoric humor and moe, and the incestuous situations are just another lock to be put on the door to "There" that should never be opened.

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