Tuesday Terminology: Imouto

Tuesday Terminology is a weekly segment to enlighten the masses with words, phrases, and ideals usually tacked on to today’s anime/manga scene.

This week’s topic: Imouto

Kyousuke and Kirino of “Ore no Imōto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai”

Imouto (いもうと.  pronounced: “ee-mow-tow”) is translated as Little/Younger Sister in Japanese.

The role of the little sister has boomed in the past decade as a major role in anime, manga, light novels, and visual novels.  There are two instances of the Imouto role that are most often portrayed in the medium:

Kobato of “Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai”

1)  The legitimate younger sister that either clings or is empathetic towards her older brother.  They are definitely blood related and similarities can be seen in the way they look and act as siblings.  In series that consist of this Imouto-type, this role is meant as a means for other female characters to get closer to the MC.  They can play the role of the childish, comedy relief or the smart, collected straight-man.

Suguha of “Sword Art Online”

2)  The younger sister that isn’t really the MC’s younger sister.  Whether they are step-siblings or cousins, the Imouto that wind up in this category usually end up falling in love with their older brother MC.  As they cannot find another man that can be as “awesome” as their brother, they slightly refute their feelings at first, but slowly come to realize them.  While borderline incest stories are not uncommon in Japan, it is definitely something questionable in other countries.  Regardless, breaking the barrier between a familial and romantic relationship garners drama that can only be found in the subject.

These two portrayals are not definitive to the Imouto role, but are a good base guideline as to the main contenders that make it on screen/on page.



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