Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru – 05

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This show is probably the most vexing of the season for me.

I really hadn’t planned to post on Yahari this week, and after the first half of this ep I hadn’t seen any reason to change my mind.  But there were – as usual – elements of the episode that stood out as quite affecting, so it seems I’m hooked in for one more week, at least.

The problem I have with Yahari is I’m still not getting anywhere – the same things that drove me crazy about it in the premiere are still driving me crazy.  It truly amazes me that a series can ring so false so much of the time, and yet have moments of real truth like the last five minutes of this episode.  It’s hard for me to convince myself to sit through more of the male lead getting punched by a teacher (seriously, in this day and age, are there still anime fans that find that funny?).  It’s hard to psych myself up to deal with Yukino for another weak – truly, she’s one of the most unpleasant characters I can recall from any anime in a long time.  It’s hard not to get irritated by yet another female character with the stupid naming trick.

But then, there’s those last five minutes.  And I suppose it’s better to have a series that can make you feel something at least, positive or negative, than one which leaves you completely cold.  The side-story this week was actually rather decent as well: Kawasaki Saki (Koshimizu Ami) is a remote and distant classmate of Hikki.  She’s been coming home at five in the morning, which has her little brother Taishi (Ayumu Murase) worried, news which finds its way to the Club because he’s friends with Komachi.  Turns out she’s been working at a bar (lying about her age) to earn extra money to pay her school fees, to make it easier on her family.  It’s all told in low-key, believable fashion, and Saki is probably more interesting in her brief appearance than any of the main girls in the series.

Where the episode really strikes gold is when Komachi lets it slip that it was Yui that brought Hikki sweets after the accident (i.e. it was her dog he saved).  On the school field trip, Hikki tells her that he knows all about it, and she doesn’t need to be nice to him because she’s worried about him – he’d have been just as much a loner even without the accident.  Naturally, Yui has other reasons – but Hikki is so beaten-down and cynical that he can’t see past his firm believe that nice girls are trouble.  He hates nice girls because if they’re nice to him, they must be nice to everyone else too – and getting any other ideas get only lead to heartbreak (heck, he applies this to Hayato too).  Damn, that’s a cold, dark place for a series to go – what a brutally sad and pathetic way to look at the world.  It’s not that often that you see adolescent pain portrayed in such a blunt and ruthless way – and that’s always been something Yahari had in it to do, even with all the other crap that’s layered on top of it.

But there’s a fundamental problem with all this.  Yui isn’t a very interesting character, and though Hikki’s loneliness certainly was given its most stark portrayal with this incident, there’s been nothing in the series to make a potential relationship between them an interesting prospect.  And I have no doubt we’ll get a poor little rich girl development with Yukino, where we see why she’s the mean-spirited viper she is, and are told to feel sorry for her.  They’re the main girls, and that’s how it works – but it doesn’t really work.  If the series were about Saki, who has an interesting real-life problem, or Saika – who’s been the only one to truly open himself up to Hikki without any qualifications or pretenses – or Hayato, who’s a genuinely interesting enigma, it would be a lot more interesting and a lot less formulaic.  Hikki is a depressing lead most of the time, but his loneliness has a core of truth to it, and it’s strong enough to be a centerpiece of a very good series – if the elements that revolved around it were different than they are.  You never know, I suppose, but it just doesn’t seem likely that the essence of the series is going to change, and for me that means it’s always going to be a question of how much of the pretentious drivel I can stomach in order to get to the genuinely profound truth underneath it.

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26 comments

  1. c

    I have to admit that I don't mind Yui. I wouldn't call her interesting, but she has room to grow into someone interesting. Unlike Yukino, who I can't really imagine being developed in a way that wouldn't make me dislike her even more. Anyway, while I don't think the prospect of a relationship between Hiki and Yui is very interesting, the prospect of them NOT having a relationship because who they are might be.

  2. I don't mind her either, in the way I mind Yukino. She just doesn't elicit any reaction from me at all.

    It's a fair point that the absence of a relationship – and the cause – might be more interesting that a potential relationship itself. But the fact that the relationship isn't a compelling alternative sucks some of the life out of that development for me.

  3. f

    I agree wholeheartedly with what clarste said. I don't think this series is going down the HikkixYui route so much as it's exploring why a relationship between them simply wouldn't work. Maybe it's the story getting Yui out of the way for the inevitable HikkixYukino pairing (we all know it's coming eventually) but still – there's a real ring of truth to this portrayal, and that's what keeps me rooting for it despite the "pretentious drivel" you see in it.

    I'm curious. Between this series and Haganai, which do you like better on balance? They both have their flaws, but I enjoy them both a lot. Haganai was never this self-consciously clever, but I don't think it ever went to the same dark and cynical places that Yahari seems capable of going. It's a tough call for me, but in the end, I simply like Haganai's characters better. That's just my opinion, though.

  4. I can tell you this much – if this show tries to shove a Yukino romance down our throats then it really will be game over for me.

    I agree that Yahari goes to darker places than Haganai was willing to. Its emotional clarity can be sharper. But they both have the split personality thing that drives me crazy. I liked the first season of Haganai much better than the second. For me Haganai is certainly funnier, but it's much more comedy-focused than Yahari is. Haganai, at its best, is a slicker and more polished series by far. Yahari, at its best, is more cutting and profound. But neither is at their best very often.

    I can certainly say the side characters (I'll include the main girls in that) are more interesting in Haganai, generally. Sena is certainly the best female character in either series. The mostly comic supporting characters in Haganai are funnier than their counterparts in Yahari.

  5. f

    I wouldn't appreciate a Yukino romance either. She and Hikki bring out the worst in each other and I simply don't like Yukino's "type" of character at all. I felt the same about Haganai's Yozora.

    Maybe it's the thing with light novels that there's this prerequisite amount of tropes and cliches you need to sit through to get to the good stuff? I feel a lot of these stories are very premise-driven and simply run out of good ideas as they go along. I see it in OreImo and I saw it in SAO too. It's a real disappointment. The underlying idea is usually quite good. Perhaps if I hadn't had so much experience in seeing light novel stories collapse on themselves I'd be more optimistic about where Yahari is going. At any rate, I really do think it's the kind of series that people – including you, I think – would have been more receptive of if it came out several years ago instead of today. Forgive me, it's just the impression I got from reading your posts.

  6. I'm not sure I follow – you mean people are less receptive because there have been so many LN adaptations of late? I'd like to think the things that irritate me about this show would have done so in any era.

    I certainly agree that there's a track record of LNs not having the goods to follow through on a good premise. I'd add Haganai to that list, too. I'm not quite ready to throw Oreimo on that bonfire but early returns aren't encouraging. Of course, Hataraku in a LN too…

  7. f

    Yeah, that is what I mean – too many LN adaptations. It's a perfectly reasonable reaction to get tired of the same conventions, even when executed fairly well. I think of Yahari as one of the better LN titles, but since all the characters have been seen before in other shows, it comes off as a bit more irritating than it should. Or perhaps it's more irritating because the dialogue shows how self-aware the show is about cliches, but the story keeps plugging them in anyway in an attempt to be "witty" about it. I don't deny that this would be irking under any circumstance, but I think it was unfortunate for Yahari to come out at the time it did – when it seems like pretty much everyone, myself included, has become a bit tired of LN cliches. Even making satire out of them has become a poor sport. That's where Yahari's wit really loses its edge and it comes off all the worse. Taken on its own, it's not a bad story.

    I'm glad you're still open-minded enough to give this anime a chance, though. Even if it doesn't entirely click with you, I can see you've tried to understand it. The only thing I'm saying is that I feel you would probably have had a bit more patience for this kind of series even one or two years ago. I don't think it's any less cliche than Haganai – and you did blog the first season of that in its entirety. I think Yahari deserves the same treatment, at least. That's all.

  8. s

    oh hikki; he has been so hurt throughout his life that he cant accept someone actually being nice to him without thinking that there is an alterior motive. Sometimes its true, nice people arent really nice; sometimes they are being nice either to feed their own egos and self-worth and at the end of the day if they are nice to you, you may end up reading too much into it and wind up getting hurt for getting the wrong idea, something im sure hikki wants to avoid doing.

    I personally think there is some intrigue to yui's character; not to say she is perplexing or a mystery that i hunger to solve but she is the only one out of the main trio without a true social problem. She doesnt despise the world or others the way yukino and hachiman do but at the same time, she has a problem with asserting herself and conforming to others. What caused her to be so meek? If she truly is a conformer, why is it that she publicly associate herself with hachiman knowing the way others feel about him? yea he saved her dog but still; she knows how he acts towards other and yet she still tried to befriend him. Or maybe she truly doesnt understand the way he is. Either way i want to know how she is going to handle hachiman now that he has confronted her.

  9. S

    You are missing the point entirely. It's not because she is being nice for an ulterior motive, it's just because as he reasons that she is a 'nice' person then she is nice to EVERYONE. He finds this niceness not nice at all .. in fact to him it is cruel. It's just in Yuis' case she does actually like him.

  10. v

    I'll be pretty depressed if this series does go in conventional route and trying to force that Yukino to our lead character Hikigaya. I'd still definitely watch it but utterly disappointed they'd go with the majority. Well that's always been the problem with anime. New kind of tsundere character in the end becomes romantic partner to the main character in typical otaku's ideal ending to the series.

    I'd also give Yui a bit of credit that she isn't totally bland either. The first impression of her was chipper and genki girl but she has her own worries and insecurity.

  11. b

    (seriously, in this day and age, are there still anime fans that find that funny?)

    Did you really have to say this? I mean sure you didn't like it, but it seems like you're dismissing people who found it funny. These things are subjective for sure so what you find funny may not be funny to others and vice versa. Saying it like that makes it sound like other people shouldn't be allowed to find these jokes funny just because you didn't.
    I expected better from you.

  12. And I expect better from people than to find that tired and offensively stupid gag funny. But it's their opinion just as much or as little as mine, and I was just asking the question.

  13. i

    It's not meant to be funny but mooooee' to a specific audience. This is a harem, like it or not, and there are needs it must fulfill for its audience. I recall that one of things different in LB is that the MC was not hurled abuse for no reason and neither were his Nakama, but that was a different anime than this.

    Its a romcom/harem LN the main girls route will be the route it follows and as seasoned veteran that much should be obvious. Also how can you hate on Yukino for being a bitch and then watch a season of Haganai which is about an even bigger bitch and her even dumber cut of meat, not to mention TWO imoutos. I thought that was the far more mean spirited one.

  14. Hey – read my Haganai posts, I watched that show in spite of Yozora, not because of her. I happen to strongly disagree with you about Sena though, but nevertheless that mean-spiritedness is what caused me to finally give up on Haganai.

  15. i

    Sena's actually worse isn't she? I mean she reeks (that is a good joke, I'll remember it) of fanservice which Yui still hasn't, she acts like Yozora occasionally which Yui doesn't and she plays eroge to create that awful connection to some people. What is exactly better about her? I can't even recall her being a 'nice girl' just a perverted one.

  16. Ranging too far O/T for me to muster much enthusiasm – there were plenty of debates on the topic in the Haganai comments…

  17. J

    guess there are still people who think this show is harem/romance.

    Today I learn

  18. i

    Another O/T but if Aku no Hana was animated like how the manga is drawn then it would be one of my, well not favorite because of the dark source, but most fascinating watches. I didn't dismiss the manga but was really creeped out by it. However I gave it another go and it has a very weird pleasure: like following some people (not friends) slowly walk to a cliff and wondering if they'll fall, jump or walk away from it.

  19. H

    Maybe it's my embrace of that type of character that lets me enjoy this type of show. My favorite character in Haganai is Yozora (and thought the second season was far better than the first, despite ending with Sena in ascendancy), and I don't mind Yukino in this show. And so far, it seems like the show has been particularly good about not 'forcing' a romance between Hachiman and Yukino. Most shows, by episode 5, would be dropping hints about getting them together, yet there's been none of that in this show. This might mean that there will be something of questionable believability done later, some form of 'revelation', or it could mean that they've got a more natural path planned out.

  20. c

    While Yahari seems to intentionally invite comparisons with Haganai (mostly by playing bingo with standard character archetypes), I'm not sure it's actually accurate to do so.

    Yozora seemed to be primarily preoccupied with asserting dominance over others, especially Sena, and seemed almost shocked that doing so didn't actually make her "win" anything in any meaningful sense. The deep flaw with her character was that she didn't know how to relate to others in any way but a power struggle. Well, I never actually finished the second season, but that was my take on her character. Interestingly, it was implied that her loneliness was her own fault, much like Hikigaya here.

    Yukino by contrast… just kind of hates everyone. She's certainly enjoys putting others down (although I'm sure she'd tell herself it's brutal honesty), but the intent isn't to raise her own standing so much as letting her hate be known. Because she thinks she doesn't care what people think about her. Her relationship with Yui is almost the opposite of how Yozora treated Sena, with her mostly just being surprised and uncomfortable with someone accepting her.

    …come to think of it, people naturally assume that there will be a love triangle where both girls are interested in Hikigaya because, well, it's a Light Novel and has "Love Comedy" in the title, but honestly the circumstances so far make YUI the center of some sort of "friendship triangle". While normally people don't think of friendship as something exclusionary like love, the characters in this kind of do? Now that I think about it more, that's sort of been the role of Yui all along, bridging the gaps between different characters and social groups by trying to be friends with everyone (not always successfully). And the tensions that are created by her trying to be friends with sets of enemies (like the popular girl and Yukino).

    So yeah, now I'm thinking of Yui as the generic inoffensive protagonist, Hikki as a tsundere in her harem, and the show is somewhat more interesting.

  21. S

    Well, your fundamental problem doesn't at all exist for me, which is why this anime is a hit for me. I like Yui, and I find her the most interesting girl. Yukinon bores me though.

    Anyway, glad you covered the episode, I thought it thoroughly deserved a blog post.

    Also, the abuse thing, you do realise that most anime watchers on the internet are Naruto/One Piece lovers, right? I had to wade through a lot of shit to get to this blog ( your tastes are not really mainstream, I can assure you)
    Enzo, I'm trying to say this as an advice, and not an insult, but I'd wish you would grow up from these t i r e s o m e knee-jerk hate feelings and paragraphs on the "abuse" scenes. I'm finally pretty indifferent to them, but I do find you repeating yourself tiring.

  22. There are plenty of options for anime blogs as well as for anime to watch. If I'm not honest about what irritates me and what I see as stupid and insulting and turn this into a cheerleader site I might as well call it a day.

  23. h

    "It's hard not to get irritated by yet another female character with the stupid naming trick."

    What naming trick? Apologies for not being so savvy with the lingo. I wonder how many in-language references fly by me, lost in translation or simply left untranslated.

  24. Z

    All the girls have their given name in their family name. It's a stupid LN thing.

  25. T

    I''m sorry but I still don't follow on what this naming trick is supposed to be.

    I've pretty much stuck with this show so far and I think I'm on a similar path as Enzo, but not really on the same boat. While I completely agree with the notion of a show 'not ringing true' or feeling 'false', I'm not so much bothered by this whole 'LN syndrome' deal that he goes on about. In all honesty while I can't call 4-5 years of watching/reading this stuff 'veteran' I've become more and more aware about the various tropes and clichés that are in the series I watch (not just Anime/manga or LN's) and really I just shrug them off unless its too painfully irritating. With this show, its not really the tropes that are showing up in of themselves that bugs me, the issue I have with it is much more simple:

    I don't find this to be that fun.

    When I go to these sort of shows I practically expect clichés, I usually wind up enjoying said shows based upon how they're used and presented. Not to mention that I don't really have a problem with a show being self aware or cynical (unless you're Medaka Box in which case you can stay the f*** away from me)since I'm fairly cynical myself, and if there was ANY hope I had, I thought that Hikki (has no one made THAT joke about his name yet?) would be a cynical yet humorous MC. When it turned out he was a bit lamer than I thought, that was the first red flag. While I don't really dislike Yukino her banters with Hikki aren't really that amusing anymore and while likable, there is virtually nothing about Yui that's either interesting or particularly entertaining. While some of the side characters are a bit more likable I'm not really attached or interested in any of them and there's just that overall 'dull' feeling this show has. Again, its not because of cliché's or predictability (though I thought it was pretty obvious that Yui was the one who visited Hikki)but there but I don't feel a life from this show that makes me want to really watch the show or get into it. Its something of a similar (yet trust me vastly different) issue I had with Psycho Pass back in the fall season and why I clicked with R;N more. If a show isn't going to be original at the very least let me feel some life or energy. Its not something I think I can give a guideline or standard to, but that's my two cents on how I feel on this show as a whole.

    As far as the episode I pretty much agree with Enzo entirely, most of it felt rather pointless, but once we passed the 'main cafe' (which after watching 'hentai prince and the stony cat', that would have felt really odd for me if Saki actually worked there)but once we got to the bar it got interesting, and I am looking a bit forward to seeing how they handle Hikki's issue with 'nice girls'.

  26. B

    Guys i need to know, and im so sorry for sounding so stupid right now, but how long is the ligt novel compared to to the anime? i need of this magic, and i felt like it was over so fast, way to fast, altough it was good while it lasted, sorry agian for being an ignorant imbicle. also sorry about my poor gramma:)

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