"The whole 'little sister' thing is the fantasy of guys who don't have sisters in real life."
The Little Sister Heroine is a trope common in multiple Japanese media that combines the idea that little sisters are cute and that cute things are to be fetishized. It goes like this:
Little sisters are cute, right? And cute girls draw in viewers. And cute can be sexy. Take a few more 'logical' steps down the lines, and suddenly little sisters are love interests in anime, video games and visual novels. It is in fact one of the
most popular heroines or love interests in Visual Novels
, branching out from there into anime, perhaps surpassed only by the ever-present tsundere
and childhood friend. Like the similarly ubiquitous Childhood Friend Romance
, it is extremely prone to lampshade hangings
As a Love Interest
trope based on the little sister/older brother dynamic, the story will usually dwell on the romantic tension a fair amount, though as always the brother may be completely oblivious. Despite the name, Little Sister Heroine attempts to mitigate the obvious incestuous fallout; They’re usually either a step sister, adopted
or, somewhat more rarely, technically a cousin or other more distant relation
. In almost all cases, the younger sister is going to be either some degree of tsundere, childish and clingy or simply highly devoted to their older brother. Finally, the relationship between the two will likely be noticed or exaggerated by the rest of the cast. If you don't notice at least several of these general characteristics, it's probably not this trope.
It rarely works like this in real life. Those who have younger sisters themselves and hear about this trope often claim that they're more frequently annoying than cute, making this trope more wish fulfillment than anything like an accurate portrayal of sibling dynamics. Thanks to the Westermarck effect
it is far more likely that the idea of any kind of romance with your sister will be either laughable or even outright disgusting.
Also known in some circles as an imouto
See also Brother-Sister Incest
and Flirty Stepsiblings
. May overlap with Big Brother Attraction
, Big Brother Mentor
, Big Brother Instinct
, and usually will with Not Blood Related
- Eien no Aselia has Kaori, but in the end she turns out to be more of a Living MacGuffin than a heroine and does not even have a proper ending. Yuuto is frequently accused of being a siscon due to his overprotective nature, but in the end it turns out to work in reverse due to her unrequited affections.
- Men at Work 2 has Mena as a possible love interest, though not the main one.
- Persona 4 has your cousin Nanako, who refers to the Protagonist as "Big Bro," gain a crush on him at the end of her social link. Nothing gets made of it, unless you also max out her father's social link, in which case his only protest is that Nanako is still too young.
- Parodied with Desco in Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten. Desco was created specifically to fulfill Fuka's childhood wish for a little sister, and as such was implanted with all of the classic traits of a Little Sister Heroine. However, since Fuka is an eccentric individual who wished for her Little Sister Heroine to come with "advanced functioning to help me take over the world," Desco was also created with Lovecraftian Superpowers and a compulsion for complete annihilation. The result is the world's most adorable Eldritch Abomination.
- Disgaea Dimension 2 gives us a straighter example with Sicily, Laharl's Long Lost Sibling. While she naturally plays the trope straight, she tries to really invoke it for all it's worth by playing up her cuteness and offering sweets to convince Laharl to give up the title of Overlord . It only serves to further piss him off.
- Ar Tonelico 2: Cocona is Croix's adoptive sister and very cute. She confides in Cloche that she is in love with him but his only love is as a brother because of their age difference, though if you don't secure any of the other three endings you default to her. The sequel suggests that this is the true ending, however.
- Mia in Duel Savior Destiny is definitely the Clingy Jealous Girl type with some level of tsuntsun going on. Her actual degree of relation to Taiga gets retconned, though. In the epilogue of her route, it's hastily claimed that it sure is convenient that they're not related. In the final route, it turns out they actually do share a blood relation and are probably half siblings.
- A non-Japanese example from a Western developer that likes playing with JRPG tropes: Bethany Hawke from Dragon Age II hits almost every note of this trope. Young? Check. Cute? Check. Needs rescuing from time to time? Check. Adores her older sibling? Double check! Romanceable? Nope.
- Another non-Japanese example: Luxanna Crownguard AKA Lux from League of Legends. She is the little sister of Garen, a distant one, and a Cute Witch that serves the nation of Demacia well, just like her big bro. And while she certainly have some things to call out on him, she clearly respects him a lot. She's in about her teens, and so far she seems to be hooking up with another champion, Ezreal. But that doesn't stop Fanon to think that Garen may not want to hand his sister over that easily to Ezreal.
- In the closing stages of World War II, Imperial Japan created the Chiran Nadeshiko (Ladies of Chiran) Units. Middle-school girls, they served as surrogate 'little sisters' providing housekeeping for transient pilots at Chiran Airbase in Kagoshima Prefecture during the brief periods between their arrival from training bases elsewhere and their departure on their fatal missions. The unit was highly publicized at the time and may even be the Trope Codifier. Growing close to so many (young) men sent off to die in 'Kamikaze' attacks took its toll on the girls. Their story can be found in BLOSSOMS IN THE WIND: Human Legacies of the Kamikaze, by M.G. Sheftall.