We’ve said this was a great year for comedies for us and we can’t leave out Oregairu (My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong As I Expected) . It was aired just the previous year and with a second season coming out this year, I thought it’d be a good idea to talk about it now than later when we might have regrets with unwanted routes/develoments (see romance, shipping). Oregairu’s main character is Hachiman Hikigaya, a teen who sucks at social relationships and tries to mend this weakness through self-depricating and sarcastic humor. This doesn’t go unnoticed by his homeroom teacher; she’ll try to change him by having him join Yukino Yukinoshita in a Service club where they’re supposed to help the classmates that come to them with their problems.
This sounded a lot like SKET Dance which didn’t fascinate me back in the day and never finished it, so that’s why it passed by my radar the first time around. That and the fact it’s based on a light novel. I had also snobbed it as an effort to ride on the wave Hyouka created as it featured similar basic premise and an Oreki copycat. I’m so glad I gave it a second chance.
It’s worth noting that the light novels have been on the first place of the most sugoi light novels (poll organized by a Japanese magazine) for 2 consecutive years and as I’m reading them slowly I can attest of their lively and funny writing.
The series is great at painting the troubles of highly-intelligent kids and at the same time contrasting them with your average teenager who seeks group confirmation above anything else. Yui is soon added as main part of the Service Club and stands as a bridge of these two worlds while self-improving and maturing (eg. she learns to stand up for herself and against peer pressure).
What I really appreciate is the tender balance between socialization as a must and required life skill, and the righteousness of solitude and honest way of dealing with situations. Sure, Hachiman is called Hikki -a combination of his surname and the word hikkikomori- and he isn’t perfect (see him slut-shaming Yui and the ‘in’ gang, which was thankfully toned down from the LN), but one can say that many of his arguments do follow a logic and his actions do bare fruits -although usually at his own expense. Oregairu is awesome because it gives you another perspective and prodes you to contemplate on everyday situations and the unpleasantries of social etiquette.
Above all though two were the sources of enjoyment throughout the series: a. the clever and -painfully-straightforward banter between Yukinon and Hachiman, b. the open queer ships, i.e. Yukinon x Yui and Hachiman x Totsuka.
ZeroreQ011 comments on Yukinon’s and Hachiman’s chemistry and characters:
I like Yukino and Hikigaya by themselves, but it’s when they’re together, when they’re flirting with each other’s egos and working together toward some design. They’re both very similar characters, and yet very different at the same time. They both are very intelligent individuals with very inflated egos that share cynical worldviews about people, society, and life that have been shaped by very lonely upbringings, alienation brought about by circumstances that were both beyond their control and within their power to change.
Yukino is excellent at managing people, albeit she lacks the warmth of being able to relate to them. Hikigaya is excellent at reading people, albeit he earns cold derision when he decides to voice them. Yukino has committed herself to the ennobling goals of helping people under the assumption that it’s what should be expected of her. Hikiyaya has committed himself to the demeaning objectives of helping himself under the assumption that nothing should be expected of him.
As for the ships… what can I say? It’d be a great surprise if this wasn’t only queerbaiting, and there are hopes, since up until now despite all the “but he’s a guy” there’s been a consistent attraction. What I’m afraid of is the Yui route that was left hanging at the end of this season and things might turn out as straight as it gets. Let’s cross our fingers.