First Impressions – Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru

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My hope was that Yahari couldn’t possibly be as bad as it looked on paper, or else Brains Base would never have touched it.  Thankfully, that turns out to be the case.

Amnesia may have snapped their creative winning streak, but Brains Base is still one of very few studios for whom I’ll watch the first episode of any series, no matter what I think of the premise.  Theoretically did the world need another light novel adaptation with an endless (and endlessly pompous) title, set in a school club?  Like it needed another reality show.  And while I’ll judge this one on its own merits, I don’t see how one could possible miss the too-obvious similarities to Haganai – a club full of misfits who have no friends, on top of everything else?

Make no mistake, this series plays 100% like the light novel adaptation that it is, and that relentlessly self-aware and self-satisfied avalanche of mannered dialogue can be a bit much to take.  Still – this one (at least based on the premiere) has qualities to recommend it.  It doesn’t seem to be going for the outlandish comedy route of Haganai, but rather semi-seriously exploring the problems of the socially maladapted teenager with a bit of heart.  And it’s not wildly off-base with its observational qualities either – there’s a bit of insight to be found here, buried underneath all the LN cliches.

In premise, we have 2nd-year high school loser Hikigaya Hachiman (Eguchi Takaya, whose voice has really grown up) forced by teacher Hiratsuka-sensei (Yuzuki Ryouka) to join the “Volunteers Club” as punishment for the snarky essay he hands in where he effectively dismisses the entire experience of adolescence and states that all the phonies in his class should kill themselves.  Hikigaya is your basic misanthrope – burned by a rejected confession that led to public humiliation in 9th-grade, he’s shut himself off from all friendship (and even speaking to girls) just to make sure he’s not burned again.  The Volunteers Club consists of one Yukinoshita Yukino (Hayami Saori), purportedly as her way of “helping” social misfits like Hikigaya, but really because her arrogance and intolerance has made her just as much an outcast as he is.

There are some similarities to Haganai even in the characters types – especially Yukinoshita – but the vibe is solidly on the dark side of the spectrum that Haganai rarely visits (and is usually at its best when doing so).  The truth is that both Hikigaya and Yukino are masters of self-delusion, and the series is rather sly in pointing this out.  In the premiere they “help” a girl named Yuigahama Yui (Touyama Nao) – all the girls have their given name in their family name in one of those needless ways LNs have of calling attention to how hilariously clever they are – who speaks in Osaka-ben and makes dangerously bad cookies.  The story is nothing special and if we’re looking at an episodic scenario where the V.C. helps someone with a similar problem every week, I have my doubt whether the series’ appeal can hold for a full cour.  But as usual, Brains Base brings some rather creative and energetic touches to the visual narrative, and I do sense a core of honest emotion underneath all the nonsense the medium demands.  There are a few legitimate laughs as well.  On balance, it’s a pretty good premiere and I can see why Brains Base felt they could do something with this material – I’ll give them a few more episodes to prove that they can actually pull it off.

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  1. J

    >and I do sense a core of honest emotion underneath all the nonsense the medium demands

    Something does feel genuine somehow underneath all those facade. It follows the usual formula, yet it's tilting the established structure little by little. I won't say that the story and the characters will be fresh and revolutionary, but the way their interaction works would probably be less of a comedy and more of character exploration.

    At least that's the tone I got out of the first episode anyway. Hopefully I'm not wrong.

  2. l

    >> and I do sense a core of honest emotion underneath all the nonsense the medium demands

    So basically, if the author were a pent up teen, he'd write a story like this.
    Once he becomes a pent up adult, he would 'graduate' to writing stuff like Aku no Hana.


  3. I don't see that connection at all, but whatever floats your boat.

  4. i

    I think its a bit safe. Not annoying like Haganai but not as funny either. The premiere at least straddles a middle line of dull mediocrity and I didn't laugh once during it. I expect a host of girls to come into the story and one will seriously annoy me off Oregairu (bets its the imouto) just as Kobato and Maria annoyed me off Haganai.

    I really believe that Amnesia and Oregairu are just account levelers for BB before they work on something more to their liking. Ill keep watching it but I expect the Maousama to be better in every way. If it gets funnier though Ill stick with it.

  5. H

    I really enjoyed this premiere, and thought it was pretty much right down my alley (Haganai is also right down my alley, and I enjoyed S2 more than S1). I don't really get the feeling that this show will turn into a harem show, or even really much of a girl showcase show. And if it continues with the Problem-of-the-Week format, I'll like it even more (I actually liked Medaka Box when it was that format, before it turned into a (imo) stupid next-strongest-fighter show).

    At the moment, it kind of makes me think of a Brains Base version of Hyouka, where the artistic style and tone's not going to match the KyoAni version, but the interaction and characters are somewhat analogous.

  6. a

    I'm biased as I love the source material, but this was excellent as I expected. One of the things that really interests me though about this series that haganai didnt really do was actually have situations where the characters were in the classroom with popular kids and it was both hilarious and a great contrast as hikki would try to understand them. I really like actually how brains base has animated these characters, they really captured hikki's disgust. But this anime isnt haganai which I think people need to realize. Its not really a romantic comedy either or a harem that goes by the formula. I'm so happy they carried Yukino's voice actor to the anime as it sounds beautiful, I really cant get enough. I also really liked the stylised backgrounds. Brains Base is actually doing a good job with this. But yeah it's more dialogue based and the anime will do things like the beach episode and such. Next episode though actually think will grab more peoples attention but I wont spoil.

    another blogger wrote this which I thought was a great compliment to the show.

    " episode gone, and Oregairu is already a contender for best show of the year – a stunning display from Brains Base, boasting mastery in character, plot, and animation. These factors are critical – the visuals are rather unique, but they’re not just original for the sake of it – the animation is extremely fluid, and the exaggerated aesthetics reinforce the comical aspect of the show, among the other emotions present.

    But more than that, Oregairu proves to have depth, it’s more than meets the eye – and it’s got a lot packed to it, enticing the viewer and leaving him or her eager for more already. It would take too long to go on about how great the characters are, and how amazing this show seems to be already – yet what can be concluded is that this is definitely a must-watch thus far, and if this keeps up, it will be a beautiful and memorable series."

  7. A

    "…states that all the phonies in his class should kill themselves" Holden Caulfield would be proud.

  8. T

    I was pretty mixed with this ep, I didn't think it was by any accounts bad, but it I didn't quite find it too funny or anything. The main reason I was going to check this show out to begin with was because of the way the MC seemed to be portrayed, but now that I see him on screen I'm somehow both disappointed yet intriuged as to how his character may progress later. I'll give it a few more episodes as it could turn into something I really like but for now its alright, but nothing special.

  9. S

    I really really liked this one. It feels genuine, I got a few good laughs and I liked the characters, all three of them. So I'll be anticipating thursdays a lot more in the future

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