My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU (Yahari Ore no Seishun Rabu-Kome ha Machigatteiru) (Crunchyroll) is yet another anime with a name too long to type. Even more annoying, there are 2 popular abbreviations: “Hamachi” and “OreGairu”. I’m going to use “Hamachi” since a Google search indicates that it is more popular and it doesn’t sound like the abbreviation for 12 other series titles.
One thing this show has to offer is the spectacle of smart and witty people exchanging creative insults. This is pretty rare in anime. In Japan you usually insult someone by using the wrong honorific. The point is that it’s hard to be sure whether you have been insulted or whether the speaker is just ignorant of the proper forms. Or, if your making a cartoon and want to show something so over-the-top that nobody will take it seriously and be offended, you can show the hero getting kicked in the face.
Hachiman Hikigaya is a high school student who is smart (in subjects that interest him) but very antisocial. He is obnoxiously cynical about everyone’s romantic notions of high school life. Actually it seems obvious that he really wishes his life was like a romance novel and is bitter that it isn’t.
His teacher, Shizuka Hiratsuka, is offended by his bad attitude and has an idea of what to do about it. She drags him to a clubroom with a blank sign on the door and locks him in with the only occupant.
Yukino Yukinoshita is the smartest girl in the school. She’s cool, self-possessed and from a wealthy family. She’s also just a friendless as Hachiman. She deals with it in a more positive way though. Instead of withdrawing from the world and sneering at it she has decided to try to change it by starting a “Service Club.”
Service clubs, whose members wait for someone to come to them with a problem, then solve it for them, are popular in manga and anime but I wonder if any exist in real life. Anyone who tried to set up such a club in an American high school would surely be treated with derision. So I find it quite realistic that Yukino is so far the only member.
Naturally Hachiman and Yukino fall in hate at first sight and start insulting each other. Astute observers may note that Yukino ties her hair with red strings, which in anime symbolism suggests they she is the hero’s true love. However she clearly isn’t Hachiman’s idea of a romantic comedy heroine.
After a few minutes of hostile exchanges Ms. Hiratsuka comes back and bullies Hachiman into joining the club. He agrees with bad grace but plans to weasel out as soon as possible.
Their first client is Yui Yuigahama, a cheerful girl who wants to make cookies for a boy but doesn’t know how.
Yukino tries to teach her how to make cookies but the results are pretty awful. Hachiman saves the day by pointing out that the cookies aren’t actually poisonous and any high school boy is likely to be so thrilled that a girl made cookies for him that he won’t care how they taste.
Yui has been bullied by Yumiko Miura, a popular girl who treats Yui as her personal serf. Meeting Hachiman and Yukino, who don’t care what anybody thinks of them, gives Yui the courage to stand up for herself.
Yui decides to join the Service Club, much to Yukino and Hachiman’s annoyance. She’s clearly not their intellectual equal but that’s probably a good thing. They both need practice in dealing with someone who is normal.
The second client is Yoshiteru Zaimokuza, a crazed otaku. Hachiman describes him as having “eighth grade syndrome.” (He actually does use the term “chuunibyou” so perhaps he has read the light novels.) Yoshiteru thinks that he is Yoshiteru Ashikaga, the 13th Shogun of the Muromachi Period. He has been following Hachiman around since Ashikaga worshiped Hachiman the God of War.
Yoshiteru has written a fantasy novel and needs someone to critique it. Hachiman and Yukino read the novel, find it dreadful and tell him so in painful detail. Yoshiteru is disappointed but also thrilled that someone has read his work, so he vows to persevere.
In the third episode Hachiman meets another romantic prospect, the beautiful Saika Totsuka who needs help organizing a tennis club. Unfortunately Sai-chan is a boy.
So far I’m actually finding this pretty funny though this seems like the sort of show that could run out of ideas at mid-season.