Today, I will be reviewing another 2013 anime, Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru, aka. My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong as I Expected, or often shortened to SNAFU.
This anime revolves around an antisocial high school student named Hikigaya Hachiman with a distorted view on life and no friends or girlfriend. When he sees his classmates talking excitedly about living their adolescent lives, he mutters: “They’re a bunch of liars.” When he is asked about his future dreams, he responds, “Not working.” A teacher gets Hachiman to join the “Volunteer Service” club, which happens to have the school’s prettiest girl, Yukinoshita Yukino. (Source: ANN)
There is one question that I always pause to think whenever I am not watching anime: what makes an anime good? (I don’t have a life … I know … ) as with everything else in life, the answer varies depending on different context, in this case, the kind of show that it is trying to be. So what kind of show is it? It is labelled as School, Romance, Comedy (although it is not your typical rom com). Unlike thrillers and mysteries, where plot is the most important, moe and ecchi, where animation/art is the most important, for an slice-of-life school (romance) show, character is paramount.
With that in mind, let’s get into the review.
At first glance, SNAFU is a generic high school show that revolves around the daily life and drama of our main characters. Well, it is not off the mark, but you would have missed the point if you associate SNAFU with “generic”. There are a couple ways that a comedy can be executed. Usually, it is the slapstick loud comedy that is prevalent in anime industry. Occasionally, more sophisticated anime fans can enjoy a rare gem of comedy that stems from clever and sarcastic retorts of protagonist. In other words, the mere presence of a certain character and how (differently) he or she responds to things around him make the show funny. Let me give you some solid examples from past anime where this is done well: Kyon from Haruhi Suzumiya, Tomoya from Clannad, Okabe from Steins;gate, etc. You get the idea. For SNAFU, we have Hakigaya Hachiman, who probably understand human relationships, society, and how to interact with people better than most adults but still choose to minimize interaction because he prefers loneliness. We get to be constantly entertained by Hakigaya’s monologue and inner thoughts. As if that is not enough, we also have Yukino, a very mature girl who is so “perfect” in every aspect that other people find it hard to approach her. They neither have nor find it imperative to find someone close whom they could hang out often, Well, until they met each other and their third member, an ordinary student, Yui Yuigahara. It is precisely because of their unique personalities and mindsets and the special character dynamics that some of the most zany, sarcastic, humorous dialogues are exchanged, minus slap-stick comedy and the over-reacting to every single thing phenomenon.
With this kind of setup, an anime could still fail if the plot is bad. Fortunately, the author of the light novel source material did a good job on this. The plot is not rushed, nor dragged down by fillers. It does exactly what it is supposed to do, develop character relationships and allowing us to know more about how our MCs think. The plot does not only that, but also throwing in flashbacks that connect the main characters’ past with their present. The plot is not overly dramatic, but always grips the viewers and make us want to know what will happen next. My only complaints about this show is that the romance department could use some improving. However, as this show only finished airing in June, 2013, it is still highly likely that it will get a season two.
As for the technical side of this anime, the music and art in general is not too bad. I rather like the bright, colorful style of the character and background presentation. The character design is decent. The anime is not animated in a boring fashion, with changing angles at appropriate moments, and that is enough for me in this case. The soundtracks, in accordance with the plot of the anime, is not dramatic, but appropriate given the circumstances. As a sign of good production, its opening even made it to my top 25 anime opening/ending list.
If there is one major complaint against the anime, it is definitely the ending. Although satisfactory, the ending is done in quite an open-ended manner. Of course, this would be of no importance if season 2 is ever created. In case it is not, though, the ending becomes quite a problem.
Overall, SNAFU is an entertaining, well put-together, and refreshing anime. It is a case where the show itself is immensely enjoyable because of the characters.
I give it a 9.4/10 rating.
Recommended to anyone who enjoy slice-of-life or comedy that stems from sarcasm and character charm (like Suzumiya, Kanon, etc.)
Not recommended to anyone who prefer the more blunt slap-stick, over-reactive comedy; not recommended to anyone who can’t relate to the male lead, Hachiman.