Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU (Yahari Ore no Seishun Rabu Kome wa Machigatteiru)

A common and annoying trope in many harem and romantic comedy anime is a main character who happens to be a bumbling and dense idiot who just happens to chance his way into these envious situations. While I'm sure I fit the bill of "bumbling and dense idiot," I can honestly say that I have never wound up in the middle of a harem accidentally or even on purpose. If I had then I probably would not spend so much time blogging or watching anime and spend a lot more time with my harem. If only I was an anime character... Or Hugh Hefner. 

The amount of time I spend cursing at the television because "Main Character No. 1" is such a complete idiot that he just doesn't get it... Well, hey, it's nothing to brag about. The female character he likes could go right up to him and say, "I like you," and Main Character No. 1 would be thinking, "What does she mean by that?" At which point my inner matchmaker would say, "Well, I am pretty sure she just told you! Are you some freaking Vulcan or something?"

But I digress.

What a lot of these brainless (but shamefully entertaining) shows fail to convey is that relationships are as much about psychology as they are about the achievement of romantic ideals. But hey, this is anime. In anime people accidentally fall down and kiss instead of cussing because they just got some teeth knocked out. Nothing psychological about that. 

My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU is a sort of rarity in that it plays on the stereotypes often presented within anime (characters introduced by an incident in the past meeting again much later pretending not to remember each other, cute little sisters, and even a "trap" character), but delivers its own twist by having a main character who is antisocial and does everything possible to disassociate with his classmates. He's practically the anime version of Dr. House.

When his language teacher and "futures advisor" tries to bring him out of his shell by semi-forcing him to join a club that only has one other member, Hikigaya Hachiman's goal to maintain his low profile to avoid awkward social situations becomes increasingly more difficult. 

Yukinoshita Yukino is the sole member of the Services Club and she is just as shut-in as Hachiman. However, Hachiman avoids people because he flat-out dislikes them while Yukino avoids people because so many people she knew tried to undermine her because of her looks and family. From the start they do not get along since both of them have the tendency to dissect the other's faults and speak bluntly about those faults. Indeed, the one problem they do not have is speaking their true feelings no matter how awkward the situation.

Together, the two of them perform services for students who ask for them. But they will not acknowledge friendship between themselves. 

Their first customer is Yuigahama Yui. Yui is an outgoing classmate of Hachiman's with a lot of friends, but she has trouble expressing herself. She is actually envious of Hachman's and Yukino's ability to say what is on their minds and before long she becomes the third and final member of the Services Club.

Since this is a romantic comedy to an extent a love triangle soon becomes apparent, but the way it is presented and resolved is different than your everyday romantic comedy anime. Because we are dealing with a main character who simply wants to be alone. And it should be brought to light that the true the purpose of Hachiman being in this club is not to find romance, but to actually just be a better and more sociable person. Whether he becomes one or not... Well, that's why you got to watch. 

I actually learned a lot watching this anime. Hachiman is indeed a very low character and downright nasty at times, but his monologues/narrations do hold some serious truth and made me think, "you know, we are not that much different" quite a few times. 

No, Hachiman isn't exactly your ideal romantic lead because he doesn't say nice things or send sweet texts, but even the most antisocial surely is capable of using their heart for more than just pumping blood, right? 


P.S. - The correct translation of the Japanese title would be My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong as I Expected. I have no idea why it was changed to My Teen Romantic Comedy Situation Normal All Fucked Up. At any rate I would like to read the light novels if they are ever translated properly and made available for legal purchase in the U.S. 

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