Written by Bananaowns
Images courtesy of Brain’s Base
Every now and then a show comes along that I adore so much, that I finish the season is a ridiculously low amount of time. Past examples of this anime binge include finishing Stein’s Gate and Toradora within twenty four hours of viewing the first episode. The show that I am reviewing this week managed to get me to watch both seasons within a two day period. My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU is an excellent character study disguised as a typical anime that takes place in a high school. I’m Bananaowns and this is an Otaku Youth anime review.
Story & Characters
The story follows the life of the nihilistic loner, Hachiman Hikigaya, as he attends high school. After writing a rather apathetic essay, his language teacher forces him to join the school’s service club as a punishment. The goal of this club is to help other students with a wide range of problems and hopefully fix his rotten personality. From there he meets the leader of the club, Yukino Yukinoshita, who despite appearances is just as much as an outcast as he is. The pair initially help out, Yui Yagahama, a rather popular girl. She ends up joining the group and the main trio of characters is formed. From this initial setup, the show largely delves into a pattern. The service club is approached by a student with a problem and then they seek to fix this issue. Throughout the episode, Hachiman typically monologues his viewpoints on the social structures regarding the specific problem. This may initially seem uninteresting at first, but these plot elements merely serve as vignettes to explore the characters.
My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU has some of the best characterization of any series that I have watched. Throughout this entire first season, the main trio of characters showcases a real evolution from where they started out. This extended character study is the extra factor that makes this anime special. So let’s take a look at the main trio.
Hachiman is apathetic especially when it concerns what he deems to be a typical high school life. He largely sees everyone as practicing some sort of hypocrisy that stems from a past failure. As a result, he doesn’t really see any friendships as genuine. Due to this outlook, he’s remained a loner throughout his time at high school. It’s important to remember that his awful personality was slowly grown into. Before high school, he was relatively normal. However, a series of events before the series made him into a social pariah. The beauty of this series is seeing him slowly changing from this loner personality. Despite acting to the contrary, Hachiman heavily desires to help, albeit in his own twisted way. He often commits social suicide in helping others with their problems, which makes him a rather selfless person, even though he does not act like one. Seeing his evolution as a character is one of the more entertaining aspects of the series. His growing friendship with Yui and Yukino actually begin to break away some of the past trauma that made him into a cynic.
Despite having some level of popularity, Yukino is much more similar to Hachiman in terms of being loner. Her personality is characterized as being relatively cold, but this is because of her blunt nature. She does not hesitate to point out the faults in others that most people would shy away from mentioning. Yukino does not do this out of spite, but rather out of her sense to tell the truth. Even with this dramatic quirk, she is able to be compassionate and kind to the other characters of this show. Much like with Hachiman her personality is the result of a less-than-ideal series of events in her past. She was largely ostracized as a result of maintaining a certain degree of excellence. This was further compounded by her strained relationship with her family. Over the course of the series, her character manages to thaw somewhat as her inner vulnerability begins to show.
Yui is the odd one out in terms of the main trio. She is strikingly different then Hachiman and Yukino. Yui is relatively normal and a member of the popular clique at the high school where they all attend. Unlike the other two, she wasn’t ostracized in the past. Her issues largely stem from being normal. Yui is rather cheery and dislikes conflict. This personality can create issues when she has a problem with something. In most cases, this leads to her hiding her opinions and merely going with whatever the group is thinking. She envies Hachiman and Yukino for always being able to speak their mind. Her character evolution is based on becoming more outspoken and in tune with her actual desires. These three characters form the base of this series. All three of them are interesting enough that I still can’t pick a favorite. This whole aspect of character evolution is the driving force of this series and is excellent enough that I can recommend this series on the strength of the characters alone.
Animation & Sound
The only negative aspect of this series has to do with the animation. The movement of the characters can look awkward at times. The animation lacks a certain level of fluidity compared to other anime. It’s not a major problem given the mostly high school based setting, but it can look off in certain scenes. Another negative with the series involves the animation backgrounds. The backgrounds are rather generic and washed out. Highly detailed scenery can add a lot to a scene, but unfortunately this series lacks this detail.
There are two things that the animation does extremely well though. The character design is phenomenal. Each of the characters is strikingly different and unique in their own way. This is helped through the excellent facial animation. While the overall animation is lacking, the facial expressions in this anime are second to none. This is also the aspect that shines during the many dialogue scenes. The animation perfectly captures Yui’s bubbly nature while also creating Hachiman’s rather dreary expression. This aspect adds more personality to the characters. Given that the characters are the main draw of this series, it’s an absolutely great addition with the animation.
In terms of sound design, the only real highlight is the voice acting. Hachiman comes across as perfectly apathetic and cynical. Even the supporting cast manages to be acted to perfection. The popular clique especially has quite a few voice actors that deliver great performances. Yumiko’s voice actress carries the perfect cadence of a stereotypical popular girl who has a rather horrid personality. Other than the voice acting, nothing else really manages to stand out. The music is appropriate for the scene, but is not memorable. There is nothing detrimental here, but nothing besides the voice acting manages to ascend to greatness.
My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU is an amazing show. The story expertly allowed a deep exploration of the characters. The animation while mediocre overall, had some strong points with the character design and the facial expressions. The series was also excellently voice acted. I give My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU my Bananaowns’ stamp of approval. It has quickly become one of my favorites. It is also fortunate that this series received a second season that managed to improve on this one in every single way. I’ll be back next week for a review of My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Too. Thanks for checking this review out.