Its been a while since I’ve written anything for this site, about Anime (heh). There’s probably a multitude of valid excuses for this, whether its the fact that COVID effectively killed the Spring Anime Season or that Anime as a whole is kind of in a quality rutt these days. For me, however, the biggest reason I can’t bring myself to talk about Anime is the simple fact that I just don’t get excited about stuff as I used to.
In what I’d call my prime as an anime blogger, I was genuinely excited about the stuff I was covering, to the point where each episode review would easily hit 2000 words by itself. Yet, these days, its hard to really muster the interest to say much at all, particularly when the last few shows I’ve written about have been massive disappointments (Fairy Tail’s Final Season, Toaru III e.t.c.)
Is that going to change any time soon? I’m not entirely sure. I’m actually worried, in fact, because the next few seasons of stuff that I intend to cover are going to be sequels, and sequels to shows I’ve adored throughout my Anime watching journey. And if you know me personally, you know that I generally don’t rewatch shows, and more often than not, I jump to the next big thing, and rarely look back.
Incidentally, its because of the fact that Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigaiteru made me kind of break that tradition, with superly entertaining results, that I’m here today, writing about Anime once again.
Yahari is certainly a unique case. The second season came out in 2015, so its been a good 5 years since we’ve seen these characters and this rather deep and intricate story. Now, compared to other shows that have been away for waaay longer, and had much larger gaps, Yahari isn’t all together too big, at just 25 episodes split between two seasons. Yet, strangely, there’s actually a good deal of nuance that’s easy to miss or forget. On top of that, I think as a much older, wiser adult, I would say I’m in a much better position to appreciate the show now, than I was five or so years ago.
In many ways, I think Yahari gets the short end of the stick from a lot of different places. First and foremost is its actual localization, with the horrible “My Teen Comedy SNAFU” title, that makes me seriously want to hurl every time I see it. Look, I’m all for creative and funny English titles, but this title just completely and utterly ruins the rather clever title of the show. Yahari’s actual title translates to: “As I expected, My Youth’s Love Comedy is Wrong/Messed Up”, which is a long winded way of saying that the title’s protagonist’s so called Love Life in his youth is pretty bizarre.
If you’re one of the many people that think that I’m overreacting to a simple localization title, then well…. First of all get in line, as nearly everyone I rant and rave about this to, says the same thing. But secondly, and more importantly, The title actually sets the stage for the story, and best exemplifies the qualities that make the show, its characters and story what it is.
Yahari is a deep, complex, overly self indulgent and meandering look at young teenage relationships in Japanese society. It examines ideas of isolation, bullying, understanding one another, fitting in with a group and the shakeups of friendships over love, from a very twisted, cynical lens. The world view of the show’s main character, Hikigaya Hachiman, is the real star of this show, and it transforms what would be a pretty generic and simple set of high school drama related events, into something truly unique and exceptional.
And the very fact, that you can see the philosophy of both the main character and the story as a whole, from a friggin overly long title, is what makes Yahari Ore no Seishun wa Machigaeteru such a darn impressive show. This is a show about going deep, and its here that the little details do matter, even if the characters and dialogue can be far from subtle.
But hey, beyond just the title and whoever came up with localized version, I think its only fair to admit that I myself was rather harsh on the series when I saw and wrote about it, all those years ago. I not only gave both Season 1 and Season 2 a Grade in the B-B+ range, but genuinely railed against the final episode when it first aired.
Was I being too harsh then? Potentially? Maaaybe? Well… Umm…. Yeah, I was. I absolutely was. Part of the reason I gave both seasons a much lower grade than they arguably deserved back then, was because of the fact that a continuation seemed to have a slim possibility. Had I not been so wrong about getting a third and likely final season of Yahari, I’d most definitely still stand by those reviews.
Today? Well… I’m here to admit that I think I just couldn’t appreciate the show when I was a bit younger and more naive. Plus, the fact that Anime was just REALLY good in those days, definitely plays a part in all of this, for sure.
So then… If you’ve been reading for this long and are still here, then you’re probably wondering: Okay? What exactly is this nutt driving at exactly?
Well… Look, what I’m trying to say is that Yahari is actually so good, and it was so fun rewatching it, that I’m kind of not only excited about Anime again, but willing to admit I was wrong in the past.
I want more people to rewatch the first two seasons, because I’m sure you forgot some really key things that I had forgotten as well.
For instance, did you remember that the whole issue of Hachiman saving Yui’s cat and being hit by Yukino’s car was resolved in the very first season? I myself, did not. I was in some kind of weird distorted reality where I expected the final season to literally resolve that particular plot point, and reveal to both Hachiman and the two girls that this whole thing had happened.
Yet, that entire plot point is the hidden crux of the conflict between the main trio in Season 1. And it wouldn’t be strange to forget that particular part either, as there’s other bombastic stuff that happens in Season 1, like Hachiman slowly coming out of his shell, or the trio saving both the Cultural Fest and Sports Festival. Plus, pretty much every side character gets an episode in the first season to get properly introduced (which admittedly, also slows the pace a bit in the beginning).
And that’s not even thinking about all the massive amounts of stuff that happens in Season 2. Season 2? That’s when things get REAL, and it all happens so darn fast, that its just… Mesmerizing. Season 2 is where the story takes a close look at Hachiman’s twisted cynical world view, and his weird way of doing things, and completely utterly deconstructs it, forcing the guy to evolve and grow.
Which, incidentally, is the one reason I really really LOVE Yahari as a franchise, and why I’m so excited about season 3. While it sort of starts in season 1, the real draw of the story is just how much change is forced upon its characters, and how they grow as a result.
I mean, the growth for all three main characters is massive. Yuigahama stops being an airhead and starts actually trying to deal with Hachiman and Yukino on their own, self reflective and complicated level. Hachiman starts to really develop empathy for others, and just generally becomes a more caring and honest person. And Yukino? She finally starts to break down that facade of the “strong independent” super lady, and starts to become vulnerable.
If there’s an award for character growth in an anime series done really darn well, then I have to say it has to go to season 2 of Yahari. The show absolutely nails how deeply conflicted teenagers can be, both in its main characters, but also in side characters like Iroha and Hayato. There’s a lot of akward, uncomfortable situations that nearly the entire cast falls into, and the way these kids navigate those situations, is perhaps one of the most interesting and unique depictions to come out of anime.
No character is perfect, no character is an archtype, and each character has real depth, nuance and a set of flaws that really make them feel life like. And yet, it would be wrong to say that any character save for maybe one or two, are really unlikable. Indeed, the character work in this show, alone, is worth going back and experiencing before Season 3 comes out.
Now… Having lavished all that praise, I do want to say one more thing before we table this topic till Season 3’s first episode. I hate to say it, but Yahari Ore no Seishun/Oreigairu (an equally weird title), is definitely not for everyone. Its good in season 1, utterly fantastic in season 2, but its certainly not a show for everyone. I say that, as one of the show’s biggest fans that was recently humbled when his own ideas of how “anyone would love this show” were dashed.
See, as part of my recent rewatch of the show’s first two seasons, I actually also tried introducing the show to someone close to me. This person, was and is relatively new to anime. They’ve seen the big things, like Re:Zero or Shingeki no Kyojin and newer shows like Kingdom and Promised Neverland, so I expected that they’d find Yahari’s unique take on High school romance and drama interesting.
In the beginning, i.e the very first episode, they did. Episode 1 is pretty darn interesting and strong, but its in season 1 that I think the show and franchise ultimately lose a large chunk of its audience. See, after Episode 1 the first season spends a ton of time world building and developing a bunch of side characters. And its these episodes, that are pretty average to sub par. Its not until we get to the first major conflict between our main trio and the School Cultural Festival Arc, that things actually get going.
Most people, including the person I mentioned, will just not be able to get to the end of Season 1. They’ll drop off after 3-4 episodes of seemingly boring, uninteresting stuff. The story needs those building blocks to make future events truly powerful, but I have to say, that I don’t blame people for losing interest in this show. 4-5 episodes of nothing interesting happening, is a lot of episodes. As a whole, I’d say season 1 is definitely a lot less powerful and interesting than its sequel, and that’s a darn shame.
But ultimately, there’s a small handful of people that are going to be mildly amused by the characters enough, to make it through Season 1. And once season 2 starts, well, you know how awesome it goes from there.
So I guess, what I meant to say here, is that Yahari as a franchise and an overall story, isn’t perfect. It gets really really good in its second season, and that’s something that my nostalgia tinted glasses were definitely not showing me.
Yahari isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay. Not everyone can or will appreciate the show, and its not one of those shows that will ever break into the main stream, even for people who may love Romantic comedies and introspective dramas. Yet, I guess for me, I’m thankful a show like this exists. A show that’s not afraid to spend the time it needs, and dive into topics in a deep meandering way that makes it truly unique.
If you’re going to watch Yahari Season 3, then I implore you to go back this week, and watch Seasons 1 and 2. There’s a lot of little moments and subtext that you either missed on your first watch or have since forgotten. And if season 2 of Yahari, with its cliffhanger ending is anything to go by, I think season 3 is definitely going to be an interesting and wild ride.
We may not like the answers that we get in Season 3, and my personal feeling is that the story isn’t going to give us a satisfying or truly conclusive ending. What it will do, however, is something clever, unique and interesting that will probably take most of its viewers by surprise. After a bunch of seasons and years of watching Anime where I just haven’t gotten that, Yahari Season 3 has me totally excited and hyped.
I can’t wait for next week and the season premiere of Yahari Orei no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigaeiteru Season 3.
Tags: my teenage love comedy snafu, oreigairu, Yahari Orei no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigaeiteru, Yahari Orei no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigaeiteru rewatch, Yahari Orei no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigaeiteru season 1, Yahari Orei no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigaeiteru season 2, Yahari Orei no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigaeiteru season 3
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