Kono naka ni hitori imouto ga iru (Engish: One of them is my sister) is another anime in a string of anime series that have, rather unfortunately, a long-winded title. Other similar anime series include Oniichan no Koto Nanka Zenzen Suki Janain Dakara ne!!, Oniichan dakedo Ai sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne!, Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai, and Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai!. Long gone are the days when anime titles are simple and easy to remember, especially one-word titles like Naruto, Karin or Bakuman. Nowadays it seems that the longer your title, the better. Nevertheless, fans usually refer to the above animes with a simpler name. In our case, I'll refer to the anime that I am reviewing in this article simply as "Nakaimo", the title which is used in Crunchyroll, North America and the English speaking world. The development of the plot in Nakaimo is pretty much according to how a harem story would go i.e. where each of the girls would take turn to have the spotlight in different episodes. The only difference from a generic harem story is that you add in an imouto or "little sister" character (not to be confused with a loli character, a little sister character does not necessarily have to be a loli). It is similar to adding an osananajimi or "childhood friend" type of character into the harem, but the adding of an imouto character has the social stigma of incest attached to it, and it makes the plot a bit more challenging and interesting to see how the issue is being resolved or sidestepped, usually with the revelation that they are not blood related, or their separation by force. I call this the sub-genre of imouto harem.However unlike conventional imouto harem stories where the imouto character is clearly identified, in Nakaimo the identity of this imouto is unknown. It is even unknown whether she exists or not! Our protagonist, Mikadono Shougo, is the son of a rich man who just passed away. Being the only child in the family, he is naturally the heir to his father’s business, the Mikadono Group (no prizes for guessing the name, lol). But, before he is allowed to inherit the business, he has to show the directors and shareholders that that he is qualified to take over, and to do so, he has to graduate, and more importantly find a life partner. In accordance with his late father’s will, he enrolled at a school where he he is to find a girl who he is going to marry. The main twist in the “what-would-have-been-normal” tale is that at the funeral of father Mikadono, a young lady had approached Shougo behind the walls and revealed to him that she is his imouto. Not knowing about it, Shougo was naturally surprised about the revelation as well - his father had an illegitimate daughter. As the above conversation took place with a wall in between the two, Shougo never got to know the identity of his mysterious imouto. To make things worse, he was later informed by the same imouto that this imouto of his is studying in the same school he is to be transferred into. This creates a bad situation for him as there’s a very slim and yet real possibility that one of the girls that he interacts with may be his imouto, and it would be a big scandal if he were to end up marrying her. If that happen, it would be his scandal (as opposed to his father’s scandal of having a mistress) and would tarnish his image of a clean and energetic young man who is full of life and ready to take over a company. If a scandal were to happen, it is highly likely that the shareholders/directors of the Mikadono Group would be displeased and not allow him to inherit the position of the chairman of the group of companies. As a result, Shougo takes extra care when any certain girl becomes extra close to him as he has to ensure he does not hook up with his sister. Helping him with identifying a person’s background is another mysterious lady by the name of Mister X – her real name was never revealed. As the story goes on, it appears that this Mister X lady is the only side character in the story who is an ally of Shougo, and I use the word “ally” as in the opposite of being an enemy. Indeed, other characters who seemed to be an ally of Shougo happened to be unscrupulous people who had their own agenda – they had wanted to take over the Mikadono Group for themselves. Anyway, with Shougo being extra careful and extra suspicious of every girls, this causes all the members of the harem to be seen as an "imouto" by our protagonist at a certain stage of the story. With clues left behind by the mysterious imouto, he sets out to find out who is this “little sister” of his is. One of the many clues is the cellphone developed by the father’s company. It was a prototype and was never marketed because of a feature of the phone that can be easily abused to the advantage of the user. This feature, a voice manipulating software, was indeed used by the imouto to hide her identity whilst still being able to get close to Shougo. The identity of the imouto is revealed at the end of the 13 episode anime series and she is indeed one of the girls who were pretty close to Shougo, and I myself have to admit that I wasn’t expecting the person to be the imouto, but really, all the clues, minus the red herrings, all point to her.There are officially five members in Shougo’s “harem”, Tsuruma Konoe, Kannagi Miyabi, Kunitachi Rinka, Tendou Mana and Sagara Mei. Other possible members of Shougo’s harem include Mr. X and Yuzurina Houshou, but they were never Shougo’s focus of affection, at least not in the anime. Konoe and Miyabi are both Shougo’s classmates, while Rinka and Mana are members of the Student Council which Shougo was roped into. Konoe has this refined lady feel and is superior in almost every way compared to Miyabi. Being the inchou of Shougo’s class, Konoe has the advantage as she gets to bring him around introducing the school facilities to him (while getting to be close to him at the same time). Miyabi, on the other hand, appeared cool towards Shougo and was pretty displeased with the attention Shougo had on his first day of class. A bit of a Tsundere character, she eventually warmed up to Shougo. She frequently gets jealous of Konoe’s closeness to Shougo and wanted such treatment from Shougo for herself. There’s a pretty memorable scene in the anime which involved these three characters. One day while Shougo was doing his duty as the Student Council’s disciplinary officer, he caught Miyabi with her skirt flouting the rules and even had a measuring tape with him to show her that it was too short. Displeased with Shougo bending down to measure the length of Miyabi’s skirt, Konoe also purposely shortened her skirt and asked for the length of her skirt to be measured. A perverted gust of wind appeared from nowhere which lifted both girls’ skirts. As a result, Shougo saw what he shouldn’t have seen – Miyabi wearing a pair of beige coloured shorts underneath her skirt, and Konoe’s panties. Looks like Miyabi came prepared. Fans of Hinagiku Katsura and Nagase Iori would be happy to see that. In Nakaimo, Sagara Mei is the meganekko. She is the loli character. Ironically, she is also the “senpai” character of the story. To the protagonist’s surprise however, he found out that this “senpai” of his was an adopted child and her real age is therefore uncertain – she may possibly be younger than him, and may possibly be his sister. Being a mathematic whiz, she is also the owner of a cosplay café, or specifically a café “where anyone can become an older brother or older sister!”. Mei’s story arc is one of the most interesting as there were lots of pointers pointing towards her having knowledge of Shougo’s past, but she refuses to reveal them.As for the other two members of the harem Rinka and Mana, their scenes are pretty negligible, expecially Tendou Mana, the resident of the Student Council. I wonder why is she a member of Shougo’s harem in the first place.Let me just beiefly go into Houshou Yuzurina, a minor but important character in the twist of the plot. Houshou Yuzurina was never Shougo’s romantic interest, but she’s my favourite character in the anime because of her, um, nosebleed (I like Allison Harvard, go figure). She’s voiced by the brilliant idol and voice actress Ogura Yui, who is also the seiyuu of Alice (Kamisama no Memochou) and Hinata (Ro-Kyu-Bu!). Ogura Yui is a member of StylipS (who performed the opening theme of Nakaimo) and one half of the pop idol YuiKaori. The other half of YuiKaori is Ishihara Kaori who voiced Konoe in Nakaimo. Everyone is connected, lol.To end this article, I would like to point out that the anime and the original novel are radically different in that a different girl was revealed to be the imouto. I guess this is a very good example where the anime creators were not faithful to the original story and had a hand in changing the story to suit the anime audience. Personally I’d disagree with such plot manipulation at the anime level. It does not only discourages the creation of any possible sequel to the anime, but it also leads to inconsistency of details. Fortunately, this revelation only occurred at almost the end and thus there is no major inconsistency between the novel and anime.
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