This is review number two hundred and nine. The anime I’ll be reviewing is part of the Spring 2013 lineup. It’s Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru or My Teen Romantic Comedy Snafu. It’s a thirteen episode anime about a guy and two girls in a club helping people out. They also have a cute romantic triangle, or do they? No, seriously, do they? Let’s read on.
The anime is about a guy named Hachiman Hikigaya. He is a loner and he doesn’t want to have friends. He believes that everything in the world is made of lies and he doesn’t want to take part in it. His advisor finds this worrying though and ordered him to join the Volunteers Club. It only has one member, Yukino Yukinoshita, who is a loner as well. The club’s job is to help students with their problems. Along with Yui Yuigahama, the club set out to solve the problems with their knowledge of society and communication that they picked up after being loners for such a long time.
Taking the Pants Off
This anime is a bit misleading. I must point out now that if you watch this anime expecting a Romantic Comedy Snafu then you’ll probably be disappointed. While there is a Romantic Comedy element in the anime, it is not the main focus of the show. It’s a bit annoying for me. There were a lot of things that could’ve happened in this show but the one it presented is a story about a guy that belongs in a club along with a snobbish pretty girl and a loud airheaded girl. There is obviously tension between the three and the guy is in this awesome position of being the interest of the girls. I’m sure you haven’t noticed it but I just described the freaking premise of Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai. This anime seemed to have taken a lot of cliché and created episodes out of them. The result is a predictable unimaginative show where you kept on asking when the romantic love triangle will commence. Despite the cliché and the misleading title though, there is one thing I really admire about this anime. We have a main character that rejects the idea of being a main character. I’ll explain later but I’ll tell you right now that I am very lenient with anime. This show tested me though and the directionless banter would’ve made this review very negative if it wasn’t for the later parts of the show where we actually got a teenage romantic comedy snafu.
Like I said, I was hoping for a Romantic Comedy anime. The first episode should’ve established that but instead, the story was about a loner being forced to join a club. It didn’t even bother setting up an interesting story to ignite some intrigue. The anime opened with a dialogue and then the main character suddenly joined a club. There are two girls and one boy in this club so clearly there is something to work on but the anime seems to shy away from it. It was very clear in the first episode that the show isn’t about a romantic comedy. It’s more about a School anime with some very interesting characters. The story is really nothing special. The main appeal of the anime though is certainly the characters. Most anime would have a bland lead character that gets involved with some girls because he is a nice guy. Perhaps even with an effortless gesture, a girl would find him attractive. He usually would have a charming personality and a trusting demeanor that helps people open up to him. The main character of this show is exactly the opposite. We have a guy that rejects the idea of a good guy. He has been rejected countless times and he finds most social interactions to be annoying. He thinks that having friends is a chore and he would prefer to be in a corner completely alone. He even have some awesome dead fish eyes that clearly tells the world that he just don’t give a f*ck. He’s a loner and he has a different attitude that most main characters would have. This made the anime very interesting.
Once the idea that the show no longer has any plans on entering a romantic comedy route, it’s finally clear that the show has a heavy emphasis on being sociable, having friends and being left out. With the story being set in high school, most of the situations in the episodes are actually pretty familiar. The beauty of the anime is really simple. It’s the idea that the audience can relate. Ever been the silent one in the group where you can’t join in on the conversations and you feel left out? Ever been rejected by a girl after you have thoughts that her being friendly to you is a sign that she likes you? Ever have mean people say bad things about you simply because you got better scores than them? Ever had a group of really bad people who thinks they’re better than everybody act harshly towards you simply because they’re a bunch of b*tches? These are all presented in the anime. The theme of friendship was turned upside down and given a more unpleasant approach. Friendship is just a ten letter word in this anime. All the niceness and the togetherness is empty banter in the eyes of the main character. Every episode is mostly about people being left out or friends having fights and then you have a bunch of loners try to fix the problem. It’s pretty interesting if you give the show time to develop. For most of us though, simply watching the first episode is enough because we can relate to what the show is about. It’s an anime with a different take on friendship and a more realistic look at people with and without friends.
The anime had two plot points. It actually has one straightforward story but the two plot points are clearly not properly mixed together. The first plot point is about the Volunteer’s Club. Yukino, Hachiman and Yui take requests from different students and they do their best to help solve the problem. This was pretty unremarkable at first. A student would just approach their club room, tell them their problem and then the group would use their brand of loner knowledge to conceive some sort of solution to the problem. Each episode would feature a new student and a new problem so there is a bit of intrigue in each episode. This plot point is massively predictable though. It doesn’t matter how they spin it, the result would always be something you can predict. It’s certainly a weak style of storytelling and the characters are clearly the only thing worth watching in these plot points.
The first plot point seems to be nothing more than just empty pretext though. Its main purpose is to introduce the characters of the anime. There are a lot of them and some are smartly introduced by having the volunteers club accept their request. When you watch the club solve the requested problem, you will slowly see the status quo of the anime and the role of each character in the story. I certainly would’ve preferred a rough introduction and an abrupt pacing to heavy cliché episodes with a predictable story but the anime had a unique approach that I do appreciate. I always figured though that the anime needed a precise introduction of the characters for later on. The characters really carried the show, especially in the first half, because there was really nothing remarkable to see here. They introduced the status quo of the story. This is important because the heavy focus on friendship and communicating with people was able to come through thanks to the clear presentation of the social structure of the story. Hachiman is obviously the loner. There is a group of mean clique that is composed of the sociable and the stuck ups. There is another group of girls in another side of the room. There are some flexible people that can hang with anyone and then there are more loners to the side. Each group of people in this social structure was introduced in the anime and their own unique story of friendship was nicely highlighted. That was really the whole point of the first plot point but it is told along with a predictable story that doesn’t really help improve the anime.
The second plot point is about the romantic comedy snafu. The main focus of this one is about the three members of the Volunteers Club and their relationship. This isn’t as straight forward as it seems and it actually had a really slow build up. The anime also spread the focus of each character throughout the anime. The anime didn’t hurriedly establish a romantic comedy triangle with the characters. It was first concerned with introducing each and every one of them. The first few episodes are about Hachiman and his philosophy about being a loner. There are some episodes concerning Yui and her relationship with the two and then there are some episodes about Yukino and her relationship with the others. This had an annoyingly slow progression. The relationship of the three characters is also subtly presented. Through various glances and social cues, their relationship was hinted and their feelings for each other are revealed. Nothing is direct. No one had a monologue about how they feel except for Hachiman who rejects everything. They didn’t talk to each other regarding their feelings or what they think of each other. It is all hidden between the lines and the story doesn’t clearly point it out. It will require some thinking, to be honest, and their progression is really nothing remarkable. It’s still going down that familiar road but we just happened to have a loner and some indirect girls as our main characters. I was honestly confused as well because there were times where I think the story was hinting a rivalry but also times where I think the girls are looking out for each other. It’s still pretty fun though to see the characters interact. Every alone moments and every meaningful glances is enough to make this anime really interesting.
I must also point out that this anime relied on cliché a lot. I can forgive the characters being in a club, despite the story actually surviving without this god awful trope, but almost everything else irks me. A character with eight grade syndrome, the main character who rejecting the idea of loving a girl finding himself attracted to the obligatory trap, a snobbish pretty girl who talks down on others simply because she is a stubborn person, a loud energetic girl that is honest about her feelings, and many more can all be found in this anime. It’s like everything we’ve seen in a light novel adapted anime was part of a checklist in creating this one. To be fair, a Winter 2013 anime called Oreshura had the same cliché checklist and it’s really all just a matter of execution. This anime really didn’t do anything with the cliché and just stuck it in to fill the gaps that the beautiful premise and amazing characters cannot fill. The cliché do slowly fade away though and again, the characters really save this show. They made sure the cliché had worth in each episode and the theme of friendship can get something out of it. Keep in mind though that I was expecting a romantic comedy snafu from this anime and the one that welcomed me was the cliché so it will certainly be a hurdle to warm up to this anime.
The characters are all amazing. The anime did a good job of making sure they look good through and through despite the heavy cliché and the unremarkable stories of the requests. Hachiman is easily the one that’ll catch your attention. All of his monologues are pretty interesting. He sounds like a petty child who has been rejected way too many times so he decided to sour grape his way out of reality but most of the things he say actually make sense. I honestly share some of his ideals and I just can’t believe an anime would ever point it out. Anime is a great way to escape yet here is a character that adds harsh realistic notions to the things we like to watch. He is also a bit of a coward. Most characters would really do the standard operating procedure when interacting with a girl that sorta kinda likes him. Hachiman would do opposite. He would refuse eye contact, deny any social cues and hints, walks away when things started to look good for him and he genuinely won’t care. He is an interesting character and you just can’t help but enjoy how unusual he would be in the various situations of the anime.
Yukino is also a loner. She is different though. She is direct about what she thinks and she simply doesn’t want friends. She seems to be a talented person that got ousted when jealous people would pick on her. She is smart though and prefers to do things alone. Her interaction with Hachiman is pretty interesting. Honestly, just from the first episode, there is this tension between the two every time they interact. The person that notices that is Yui. She is the cheerful girl that has a hard time befriending others. She is honest about her feelings and I am actually glad she is because you can get an idea of what is happening between the main characters through her. She isn’t a loner and she can interact with anyone but her reserved personality is often a problem for her. The main characters all had a decent transformation as the anime progresses but they’re just subtle changes though because of how indirect the characters are.
The rest of the cast is amazing as well. At first, I though the anime would just introduce them on their respective episodes, that concerns their requests, but they are actually important characters in the anime. They add variety to the episodes and they also give us the normal perspective about friendship while the main characters provided a more skewered one. One of the best side characters is easily Hayato Hayama. He is confident, people like him and he goes out of his way to help someone in need. In a normal anime, he would be the perfect lead role. He easily would’ve been in a romantic comedy snafu situation three episodes in if he was the main character. He is the ideal main to the one in the anime. His interaction with Hachiman is really fun to watch and Hachiman’s opinion of Hayato is really interesting. They often clash beliefs and their opposing personality is actually one of the most enjoyable aspects of the anime.
The other characters all had good roles as well. They don’t do much other than make the interactions between the characters look good. They are also interesting themselves despite their cliché personalities. I still enjoyed the fujoshi, the trap and the eight grade syndrome despite being nothing more than side characters in the anime. The characters involved in the requests are also pretty interesting as well. They give us a unique situation that concerns friendship and social interaction that the anime puts heavy emphasis in. Despite being predictable, seeing the characters do well in the story really keeps me watching.
Once all the characters are introduced and the status quo is clear, the anime actually started going towards a romantic comedy snafu route. Towards the later parts of the show, the characters are slowly hinting at something more serious between them and I can actually see romance at this point. The story also got interesting with the loner named Hachiman soon became involved in the status quo. At first, he was just an observer in the sidelines with no major role but now he is an important part of the social structure. He would sound harsh while the rest of the cast would look out for each other. The various requests became enjoyable when the rest of the characters are involved. The anime slowly crawled out of the loner’s point of view and had the focus on the status quo. It was pretty good and really satisfying. Of course, nothing big materializes but the story was heading into a fun direction and I was fine with that. I’m really just glad the anime delivered something concerning its overly specific title. They should’ve renamed it though. I am also a bit suspicious of the slow pacing and the heavy focus on the characters in the show. It damaged the potential of the anime and that much circling around the topic can only suggest that the story is clearly not over. The light novel is actually still ongoing and the anime covered everything that was already made so it makes sense how the love triangle never commenced. It’s because the original material hasn’t covered it yet as well. I do hope there is another season. The anime bothered to actually establish a romantic comedy snafu so it’s only right that another season focuses on it, right?
Sight and Sound
The character design is pretty simple. The characters all look decent but the lack of details make them very plain. The heavy lines also look bad on the characters. The color scheme is also a bit boring. There is enough to tell each of them apart and enough to make the story interesting but clearly not enough to really admire the characters. They really look plain and the only thing I really admire is the different hair style and hair color among the characters. Even Hachiman, with his slouched posture and dead fish eyes, wasn’t as cool looking as he should be. The character design in the light novel front covers where amazing with subtle soft touches and cute details. It’s a shame the studio did a rough job on the characters.
Animation is also pretty plain. It doesn’t stand out and majority of the scenes are about the main character doing narration so there’s really nothing to note here. There are also a lot of conversations so the animation was just enough to keep the story moving. Nothing was a highlight in terms of animation. I guess the blatant cute effects on the trap character were decent but it clearly could’ve been better. Brain Base is pretty restrictive when it came to this anime which is a huge shame.
The anime’s OP is “Yukitoki” by Nagi Yanagi. This is an amazing song. There is no way Nagi can do a bad song. Her voice is really elegant and this made the OP song pretty amazing. It’s a cute song about finding where you belong that nicely fits the spirit of the anime. The OP sequence is about the three main characters and the hinted romantic comedy snafu. It gives us hope that the anime isn’t misleading us because it has all the makings of a cute love triangle told indirectly in a detailed montage.
The anime’s ED is “Hello Alone” by Yukino Yukinoshita (Saori Hayami) & Yui Yuigahama (Nao Touyama). There are other variations of the song but it’s still the same ED song. It’s a bitter romantic song about heartbreak. It’s the kind of darkness welcomed in the anime but the voices of the characters made the song really special. I also love how they gave the song a cheerful personality. The ED sequence is about the characters in simple poses but the background is live action. It has a nice artistic touch to it that I really admire and the use of different camera angle made the animation of the ED ten times better than the actual anime.
6/10 “The characters are amazing and the theme came through nicely. It’s a shame the story is littered with cliché that didn’t really do much but make the entire thing look mediocre.”
This anime had a weak story but the focus on the characters made it interesting. A loner with a sour look at life is something really worth watching and the relationship he have with the two girls is something I really enjoyed. The anime had a rough first half but it bounced back in the second half. Its nice theme of friendship told in a different light is also something I’m sure people will truly enjoy. Look past the cliché and the predictable story and I’m sure you’ll love this anime as well. I recommend it.