Expectations can be interesting things when it comes to a season premiere, doubly so when its for a conclusion that’s had five years of anticipation attached to it. Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru Kan finally came out this week, and with its first episode, it brought a big dose of the unexpected.
If you remember my little hype up post from about a week or so ago, when I had just finished rewatching the first two seasons, I mentioned that Yahari was definitely going to do something that was at least clever and unexpected. I think I got half of that right, because while things were definitely unexpected this week, I think a large part of that had to do with can only be called a rather rough start.
I think its quite clear that Yahari as a complete anime adaptation, was never properly planned out. Season 2 happened five years ago, and most of us fans weren’t even expecting to get this final season. Zoku (Season 2) ended on quite the cliffhanger, and so to follow that up, five years later, is certainly not an easy task to undertake.
It certainly isn’t, and yet… Arguably bigger and more mainstream series have handled this very same issue, and this very season at that. I know they’re different series and stories that fit into different genres, but Re:Zero handled its season opener a lot better than Yahari did.
While Re:Zero definitely made the jump back into its story look effortless, Yahari feels like it does the exact opposite. There’s a real sense awkwardness to the whole episode, and how it progresses from scene to scene. Now… while it can certainly be argued that that is very much the intention in the start of the episode, I don’t think that’s the feeling the audience is supposed to get past that first scene. There’s scenes here that are meant to be emotional, powerful and to change the dynamics of certain characters that we’ve come to know in this story. And those scenes? They are decently good sure, but the placement and general decisions for how everything is laid out, is where the episode truly starts to falter.
Is that the fault of the adaptation? Is it because the last season ended on a weird note? Or is this something inherited from the source material? I’m not entirely sure, and I wish I knew. Essentially, this episode has three rather disjointed segments that are kind of at odds with one another, conflicting and contrasting so much that they actively weaken each other and the overall story as a result.
The first scene is a direct follow up to what we ended on so many years ago. Hachima, Yui and Yukino kind of half confront each other after their “trio date”. In some ways, they all realize that they can’t continue on in the way that they have been, and so everything kind of hits a boiling point right as season two ends.
I finished Zoku about a week ago, and despite that freshness, I was utterly lost as to what was going on in this episode. Season 2’s ending was itself a bit vague, but it at least seemed to imply that some kind of direct explanation was just around the corner. Well… we’re around the corner now, and things are still as murky and muddy, as they were five years ago.
And Look, I get what’s essentially going on here, kind of. Yui has, at the very least, pushed Yukino to confront the fact that at the very least, Yui intends to move forward. Does this mean that Yui intends to confess her feelings for Hachiman? Well, she kind of did, in a way. And yet, Hachiman doesn’t really give her an answer. And on top of that, Yukino doesn’t really either.
Its really unknown as to what all the parties involved are thinking, and who knows what. There’s a sense that Hachiman at least understands that Yui likes him, but does he also believe that Yukino does as well? Has he made a choice between them? I’m not sure. And yet, the whole conversation on the bench is just so utterly confusing because it implies that all three of these characters are on more or less the same page.
It seems like Yui is being pretty direct there, and Hachiman’s definitely uncomfortable, but no one seems to be pushing Yukino to do much of anything. There’s a question about what Yukino’s answer is, but I myself don’t even understand what the “original” question was.
I get the answer, its that Yukino intends to actually stop relying on Hachiman to make her decisions for her, and intends to think about everything properly from square one. I get that much, but again, I’m not sure how far that extends. Now, the fact that the conversation itself is a mishmash of ambiguities is certainly realistic, but its also exceedingly hard to follow. Teenagers can certainly become vague, especially when it comes to romance and their feelings, but this whole scene just felt like a cop out more than anything else.
It was almost as if Wataru-sensei, as a writer, was hitting the pause and rewind button on everything, because Yukino still has a good chunk of her character arc to go through. Yukino’s whole deal with her family is something that she needs to deal with, and quite honestly? I’m not too invested in that particular plot point.
Its important sure, but it pales in comparison to what we’ve seen before, with Hachiman’s own misplaced expectations of Yukino in Season 1, or the flat out boiling of feelings between the Service Club Trio in Season 2. This whole Yukino thing? It feels like something half baked, shallow and sloppy. Not something I guess I expected to see from Wataru-sensei or this particular franchise and story.
And this whole thing? It’s just the first of three major story beats that this episode tackles. So with the Hachiman, Yukino and Yui love triangle issue on pause (seemingly something that they are all fine with), we the audience, are forcibly moved towards what comes next. The fact that we don’t just get into Yukino’s family issues right then and there, is frustrating, to say the least.
Of course, what’s more frustrating, is what immediately follows. The scene with Kawasaki and her sister, is something that feels so disjointed and out of place from the core story, that its just… Jarring and perhaps even wasteful. The whole point of that sequence seems to be to sort of reintroduce some key details about Kawasaki and Hachiman. Season 2 obviously skipped this stuff, where Hachiman actually blurted out that he loved Kawasaki when he was dealing with the Cultural Festival stuff.
He doesn’t actually like her of course, and she realizes that, but there’s some romantic tension that results none the less. Its a fun little annecdoate sure, but the fact that the show feels the need to revisit this, is frankly just baffling. Lets be honest, as cool as Kawasaki is, she’s a side character. While it would’ve been interesting to see her developed further than she was, at this point in the story, she doesn’t matter. Retro-fitting in a flashback to that particular idea, this late in the game, is bad.
Its something that I think, works fine in a vacuum, but just doesn’t fit in with a season opener for what is the conclusion to the entire story. And, well, Since this “scene” kind of happens, the show attempts to connect it to another seemingly unrelated issue; Hachiman and his relationship to his sister, Komachi.
Again, I think this scene and story bit as a whole, is perhaps one of the more powerful moments we’ve seen in the series. The problem is, that the impact of this whole thing, is utterly destroyed by the two segments that come before it. This scene, which marks Komachi basically graduating from being reliant on her big bother, and moving towards independence in a really respectful and organic way, honestly feels like a tangent to the larger plot thread of Hachiman’s own relationships.
The scene is important enough, that I think it almost warrants its own episode. And honestly? Why not focus in on Komachi and Hachiman in an episode? Why not push this whole thing into episode 2? Its important enough, and the disjointed connection that it makes to Kawasaski’s whole story, is what ends up really tainting the impact of it all.
See one of the best things about Yahari, is how it really gives Hachiman a pretty entertaining dynamic with his younger sister. There’s a back and forth, and playful exchange of teasing and warmth that has always been evident in their interactions. Yet… Here I definitely felt like both the dialogue and the voice actors were just trying a bit too hard. It felt like there was just too little time or space to properly examine and then evolve this dynamic.
And look, the Komachi thing doesn’t come out of nowhere, I know. Its something that is happening on the sidelines throughout Season 2. Komachi prepping to take the entrance exam to Hachiman’s school, is something that characters often referenced back then. So… We’ve definitely been at least building up to whether Komachi will make it in or not. Frustratingly, however, the episode doesn’t even answer THAT question.
At first I really did think that Komachi had failed. That particular outcome would easily explain the awkwardness that we see from her exchanges with her brother. Unexpectedly though, its actually Komachi being uncharacteristically direct and thankful to her brothern. These two help each other out more so than anyone else in the cast, and they do it in a way that’s genuinely “cool” for siblings. They’re really close and yet rarely openly admit it. So, to kind of get this scene, and not even get to know if Komachi actually passed? Well I can’t say I found that particularly satisfying or wholesome.
Which, in essence is how I felt about this week’s episode. Its certainly not bad, but I’d be lying if I said it even remotely came close to making me feel like the franchise was properly back and firing on all cylinders. I mean, even the opening credits felt like they just were a bit too over the top. There was a subtly to both the openings of season 1 and 2, that I think Kan just can’t nail that balance in its opening animation.
I think it has to do with that weird disco dance scene that we see in the opening credits. And I’m not even gonna speculate on the potential spoilers that the opening credits seem to hint at. We’ll have to see that for ourselves in their proper context. In contrast, the ending credits fare a little better, and actually feel like THEY should have been the opening rather than what we got. Odd choices all around I guess, or maybe choices that I just didn’t vibe with.
As a whole then, I’d say that my first impressions of Yahari Kan aren’t as superb as I’d like them to be. Make no mistake, this is a rough start, and only time will tell if this opening episode was a one off misstep, a shaky transition if you will, or if this is what we can expect from most of this final season. Season 2 of Yahari was amazing, while season 1 was decent. Kan’s first episode, is somewhere in between. There are certainly moments of brilliance to be found, but the pacing and flow of everything feels off. The pieces just don’t fit well together, yet.
Which, honestly, breaks my heart a bit. I really was excited for this season, and a part of me expected to just lavish praise on it like I did for Re:Zero earlier this week. It is what it is though, and much like Re:Zero, I fully intend to cover this series this season as well. Lets see how it all ends, and where the pieces fall. For those of you who came back to this franchise and this final season, Do tell me how YOU felt as well. We had a really good conversation going on in the comments section of Season 2’s episode blogs, and I hope we can get that here as well. See you all next week.
Posted by setsuken
Posted on July 10, 2020 at 4:20 pm
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