Hey everyone. I debated whether I should review ONIMAI or not because, technically, you shouldn’t review an episode you didn’t even finish. Right? I could only sit through 10 minutes of … this and had to call quits. I’ve written this review in the middle of an English proficiency exam, actually. I had finished 50 minutes early and wasn’t allowed to leave or read a book, so I decided to scribble this review on the back of a scrap paper. I was bored out of my wits already, so I might be harsher than usual. In short, take these into account when you’re reading this review.
ONIMAI is a manga created by Nekotoufu, and the adaptation was left at the hands of Studio Bind, who are also behind, dare I say, the infamous (?) Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation. I didn’t see more than an episode from the latter either, but even from that first episode, it was evident that visually, the quality was top-notch.
Did I know this series beforehand? First time hearing about it.
What is it about? Mahiro is your staple anime guy; a NEET, an eroge otaku, and especially, the one that anime makes sure you don’t forget: a deadweight. One morning, the face staring back at Mahiro on the tablet screen is strange enough to induce an existential crisis.
Turns out, you’re not even safe in your own home, with your family. Mahiro’s little sister has put a drug in the cola to force them into changing genders and now Mahiro’s under her sister’s surveillance 24/7. I had trouble deciding which pronouns to use for Mahiro, and in the end, I wanted to keep it gender-neutral.
What to look out for? What not to look out for…
What do I think? If I stop thinking what ONIMAI is about, this series is honestly super cute. Soft pastels all around, a soundtrack that fits the setting, a very dynamic OP, and lots of intricate and personal touches in Mahiro’s room. It would make an aesthetic anime Tumblr gif account cry. I’m not even talking about the character designs. Visually, everything about ONIMAI appeals to me.
I don’t mind stories where the main character wakes up to find themselves changing their gender. Actually, the character trying to make out the mechanics or social cues attached to the gender the person hasn’t experienced before can make way for humorous and interesting situations. For example, last year’s Life With an Ordinary Guy Who Reincarnated Into a Total Fantasy Knockout did a fairly good job with this trope.
I was more or less enthusiastic thanks to the first couple of minutes. Loved the detail where Mahiro gets up and their pajamas just slide off of their legs because of the size. But then, The Sister happens.
Where do I start… I understand that adult women in tiny, middle-schooler bodies are a grey area; some say it’s a sign of an obsession with age and youth, and just a lee-way for having a minor character in “icky” situations while others argue that “minor-coded”ness cannot be a thing in fiction and there are people who find themselves represented because they themselves are small. In ONIMAI‘s case, however, we are made sure not to forget at every step that Mahiro has also regressed in age, forcibly at that, and they are a middle schooler now. Not only their body is constantly medically examined and monitored through a secret camera Mahiro doesn’t know about, but there were also far too many close-up shots of their body enough to make me feel queasy. And I certainly didn’t want to hear a conversation between these siblings like this:
Will I continue watching? I feel like I did my best for ONIMAI and this was all I could muster. I won’t be watching the rest.
Have you seen ONIMAI yet? If so, what did you think? Does it get… better from here? Let me know what you think and see you tomorrow with my fresh hot takes on The Tale of Outcasts. Until then!
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