Today, apparently, is “imouto no hi” (妹の日) or “little sisters day” in Japan, because a mangaka named Kunio Hatada decided in 1992 that it should be. The exact reason why he decided this should be the case appears to have been lost to the mists of time if a bit of casual searching on the Internet is anything to go by, but by this point most of you probably know that Japan, as a culture, is more than happy to declare something “[x] day” and then spend at least 24 hours bombarding everyone with fantastic fanart relating to whatever [x] is.
We’re not complaining. Anyway, to get into the spirit of things, here are five of our favourite little sisters from video games and visual novels.
Shigure Minaduki (Nekopara)
I suspect the Internet would have my head if I didn’t put Shigure in here, since she’s one of the most popular little sister characters out there.
Her popularity mainly stems from the “will they, won’t they” relationship she enjoys with protagonist Kashou throughout the Nekopara series; most recent installment Nekopara vol. 4 kept people happy for a while due to a certain delightfully heartwarming scene, but doubtless there’s still plenty more teasing to come.
Even if you’re not into the idea of forbidden incestuous anime relationships, though, Shigure is a fantastic little sister. She’s smart, she’s resourceful, she’s incredibly supportive to both her brother and his catpanions, and she’s just a pleasure to have around. Truly the standard by which all little sisters are set; just maybe lock your bedroom door of an evening if you don’t want a surprise in the night.
Ryoubi (Senran Kagura)
Ryoubi, the younger twin to her sister Ryouna, is a delightful study in contrasts and subversion of expectations. While Ryouna is a proud masochist, deriving obviously sexual pleasure from both verbal and physical abuse, Ryouna is something of a sadist — though this just appears to come naturally to her rather than being a sexual thing.
Under many circumstances, Ryoubi, despite being the slightly younger of the pair, is the more mature one — though she does have some childish tendencies, most notably when it comes to any sort of competitiveness over breast size. Interestingly, while Ryouna got the honkadonkabadonkers of the family, Ryoubi is commonly regarded by Senran Kagura fans to have one of the best butts in the series — and when she undergoes her Shinobi Transformation, her bosom undergoes a process that can only be described as “blossoming”.
Much like the series as a whole, Ryoubi isn’t all tits and ass, though; her character gets some impressively in-depth exploration over the course of Senran Kagura: Estival Versus in particular, as that game’s story looks at how different people respond in a variety of ways to the losses they have suffered in their past. And Ryoubi has a lot of issues to work through, shall we say.
Nepgear is, to my mind, the perfect little sister. She’s kind, she’s responsible, she’s gracious, she’s polite and she gets endearingly flustered when anyone acknowledges that she’s actually a lot more capable than her onee-chan. Plus she gets bonus points for being an homage to Sega’s underappreciated handheld, the Game Gear.
Compile Heart took the bold step of making the second Hyperdimension Neptunia game on PlayStation 3 put the main characters’ sisters (known as CPU Candidates) in the leading role. Nepgear, who takes the overall lead, promptly spends much of the game worrying if she can live up to the role of protagonist and if people will think she’s boring — but that only endears her more to a lot of people out there.
Couple that with the ongoing saga of her relationship with Lastation’s CPU Candidate Uni — personification of the PSP and the Vita — and you have a fine recipe for both success, and some of the series’ best yuri moments.
Just don’t back her into a corner. Because in one of those dimensions out there, she demonstrated that she’s more than willing to do whatever it takes to put things “right” — even the unthinkable. You have been warned!
Nana Kasugano (Akiba’s Trip: Undead and Undressed)
Nana from Akiba’s Trip was an absolute delight to have around, even if it was a struggle and a half to get her to leave her room. But, in her own way, she was an awesome little sister for the main character of Akiba’s Trip: Undead and Undressed, too; she’d make clothes for him (which acted as armour in battle) as well as modding items to make them more effective.
The structure of Akiba’s Trip: Undead and Undressed meant that you could plough through the main storyline fairly quickly if you wanted to — but one of the main attractions of the game was exploring the side stories the game had to offer, many of which could lead to their own unique end sequences. And, as you might expect, Nana has her own story to follow through, too, which gives you the opportunity to get to know her a bit better and enjoy the sense of closeness between her and “Brotagonist”.
Mostly, she’s just a pleasure to be around; since we take on the role of her brother in Akiba’s Trip: Undead and Undressed, we’re placed in a uniquely privileged position that no-one else in the cast gets to enjoy. And that feels pretty damn special at times.
Firis Mistlud (Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey)
Most of the little sisters we’ve talked about in the rest of this piece are non-player characters or party members. But in Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey you’re put in a rather special position: you are the little sister! And not only that, your doting older sister Liane is a constant presence by your side, supporting you every step of the way on your journey.
Firis is a thoroughly likeable character, and her journey to explore the world outside her mountain home of Ertona for the first time really opens her eyes to what life really has to offer. It’s not always easy — there are plenty of times when the challenges of her journey reduce her to tears — but as she continues making strides towards her eventual goal of becoming a qualified, licensed alchemist, she learns to face each new day with renewed determination and a desire to do what’s right.
And if it all happens to go horribly wrong? Well, Liane will be more than happy to provide her own special brand of comfort in the privacy of the atelier tent… perhaps a little too happy. But what would an anime little sister be without at least a certain amount of inappropriateness relating to her siblings?
Who are your favourite video game, visual novel and anime little sisters? Don’t be shy — no judging here. Perhaps you’d care to write her a love letter for the Rice Digital Friday Letters Page? If so, the “Write to Rice!” widget is over there on the right ready and waiting for you…
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