“There’s a point far out there, when the structures fail you. When the rules aren’t weapons anymore, they’re shackles, letting the bad guy get ahead…maybe one day, you may face such a moment of crisis, and in that moment, I hope you have a friend like I did! To plunge their hands into the filth, so that you can keep yours clean!” —Jim Gordon, The Dark Knight Rises
Whereas the official title is Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru Zoku, I’ve taken the liberty of capitalising on the uniqueness of the review and the English translation of the title to provide a short talk two episodes into this anime, which will hereafter be referred to as OreGairu Zoku. This is a rather unusual decision, since I was originally intending to do a full-series talk, but two factors precipitated this post’s writing: the first is the knowledge that readers have expressed an interest in seeing how this here blog may write about OreGairu Zoku, and the second is the fact that the first two episodes deal with something that, curiously enough, I’ve experienced quite recently. Both motivating factors may preclude a truly objective outlook on the matter, or it could lead to an interesting take on love confessions and dating that other blogs may not have had the opportunity to explore. The first two episodes deal with the Service Club’s recruitment to help Kakeru Tobe begin a relationship with Hina Ebina as their year is set to go on a class trip to Kyoto. Realising that the odds are stacked against Kakeru, Hachiman intervenes with his typical uncanny methods and manages to spare both Hina and Kakeru’s present relationship to preserve their group’s status quo, but as with the previous season, at an expense to himself.
Kakeru’s predicament is a familiar one, and while it might seem otherwise, the difficulty he encounters in trying to ask Hina out stems from a multitude of possibilities; were he successful, he would spend less time with his other friends. Failing would naturally mean introducing a degree of awkwardness amongst his group of friends. Doing nothing would mean failing to be honest with one’s feelings. Barring the Service Club’s presence, this is a fair challenge to address because there is no winning move, and regardless of which decision Kakeru took, the consequences would have very much disrupted the group dynamics with his friends. With his resolve to keep trying, and his intent to confess his feelings to Hina, let’s suppose that Hachiman had not intervened. Then, Hina would have rejected him the same way as she did when Hachiman stepped in. However, the fallout does not end here: my experiences attest to the awkwardness that results after a botched love confession/effort to ask someone out. Communication becomes difficult as both parties comprehend what’d just happened, and friends can become more distant, to the extent where it’s as though one’d lost a friend altogether. Quite simply, it sucks, and there is no denying that things get dicey after that. Consequently, in OreGairu Zoku, it is quite understandable that Hayato is concerned for his friends. Thus, in turning to Hachiman, Hayato knows that he will be forced to do a deal with the devil: in the end, Hachiman takes the rejection in Kakeru’s stead and preserve the status quo amongst Hayato’s friends.
Screenshots and Commentary
- According to the site archives, the last OreGairu post I did was nearly a year ago. I’d picked up the series out of curiosity and began watching at around this time last year, finishing early in May. At the time, I hadn’t even learnt Unity yet: the Giant Walkthrough Brain was little more than a set of requirements, and I was just getting my university matters sorted out as I was beginning my transition into graduate studies.
- I won’t bother reintroducing all of the characters again, since I imagine most individuals are already familiar with OreGairu, and if they are not, swinging by here and here will rectify that on short order. The first season was thrilling to watch, and can be completed reasonably quickly, given that there are only thirteen episodes.
- This post may not be up to my usual standards because it was written on a short notice: I’d just finished watching the second episode a few hours ago, and spent most of today reviewing concepts involving multi-agent systems for an oral exam. With a group, I’d just handed in a project, and the team paper is due in two days: I’m honestly as unnerved as Hachiman when Yui decides to get a little closer, since I still need to look over the paper to ensure that what is being said is consistent with our implementation (two other teammates were handling said paper since myself and another teammate were responsible for the actual implementation and testing of said project).
- Hachiman coldly mentions that a class trip is a simulation for figuring out how well different individuals can tolerate one another in close quarters: it’s a rather brutal comparison that strangely seems to hold some merit, although unlike Hachiman, I argue that it’s a fine way to figure out how to be accepting of different individual’s eccentricities during such occasions.
- I’ve heard that the art style in OreGairu Zoku is slightly different: official documentation shows that the first season was done by Brain’s Base, and the second season is done by Feel (who had previously done Locodol). I myself could hardly tell the difference upon first glance, but upon closer inspection with screenshots from my older post, the differences are definitely present.
- The change in studios have not led to a compromise in the animation and artwork’s quality as far as I can tell: and the characters still retain their appearances from the previous season. Here, Hina and Kakeru draw fortunes at a shrine, with Hachiman mentioning that everyone seems to be doing love-related fortunes.
- Yukino and Hachiman totally bust Shizuka trying to sneak out at night for some drinks. As the instructor who forced Hachiman into the Service Club previously, her presence has been quite limited so far, and I’m wondering if she’ll play a bigger role as the season progresses.
- Yukino still has not accepted Hachiman as a friend, whereas Yui had done so after she’d reconciled with Hachiman. Yukino’s cold nature is rather similar to SaeKano‘s Utaha, although the key difference here is that Yukino is rather indifferent towards Hachiman, while Utaha is a lot friendlier with Tomoya than might be considered standard of friendship.
- After seeing little progress between Kakeru and Hina, Yukino suggests a list of romantic places where the atmospherics might be appropriate for Kakeru to make his love confession known. Curiously enough, it’s only in anime that I typically see the phrase “[love] confession” used: where I come from, it’s called “asking [someone] out”.
- Yumiko advises Hachiman to stand down and stop interfering with her friends’ lives. As one of the most popular people in Hayato’s group, Yumiko conveys the sort of personality that I am most incompatible with; I can nominally get along with these type of people when there is a shared goal, such as a project, but otherwise, would not trust them to the same extent as I would my friends.
- While Kyoto was chosen as the location for the class trip, ultimately, there is less emphasis on the locale and more on the individuals’ own dynamics in said locale. A year may have passed since OreGairu last graced my 1080p screens, and romance may or may not be a central aspect in OreGairu Zoku, but given that Yui shares the most meaningful interactions with Hachiman and serves as his foil, I still stand by my claim that if romance is going to be a part of OreGairu Zoku, then Yui and Hachiman probably would be best for one another.
- I do not doubt Fate’s ability to deliver their side of OreGairu: the visuals are quite stunning. However, I do doubt my ability to differentiate between different anime: though done by separate studios and possessing highly unique stories, I was watching OreGairu and was wondering whether it was a younger or older sister that Hachiman has. Both Hachiman and Hyouka‘s Houtarou share a highly apathetic personality, and as such, for the briefest of moments, I forgot the difference.
- The page quote is related to OreGairu for the fact that many seem to consider Hachiman to be the anime equivalent of the Dark Knight, taking on and shouldering responsibilities for other’s sake with the aim of preventing things from going south. However, while there is intrinsic value to what Bruce Wayne does as the Batman, I do not see Hachiman’s actions as being particularly noble.
- Yui enjoys a croquette and meat bun simultaneously, and Hachiman hesitates to share, viewing the act as an indirect kiss. Returning to my point immediately above, my assertion stems from the fact that dynamics amongst high school students are not permanent. A few friendships dissolving at the high school is by no means an indicator of one’s own temperament, and individuals can continue on to enrich their lives and social connections beyond high school.
- As such, though Hayato is interested in maintaining the status quo with his group of friends, Hachiman’s actions in helping the former might actually be detrimental. By intervening and figuring out solutions, this preventing Hayato and his friends from learning about conflicts and potential resolution strategies, both of which are absolutely essential in the real world. Without the necessary skills to handle adversity, one cannot mature.
- Kakeru’s determination in asking Hina out is admirable, but ultimately, futile. I can verify that summoning the courage to ask someone out (well, love confessions, for those sticking with the translated terminology) is remarkably difficult; the decision to do so shares properties with undecidable problems, since there is no one method that can yield a ‘correct’ result. Of course, for the pessimist, every move leads to a loss of some sort, but despite my experiences, I’m not quite ready to believe that (yet).
- After Hachiman steps in to spare Kakeru the pain of rejection, I note that Hina’s immediate response is the same one I was met with a ways back: “not ready for a relationship yet”. A bit of reading suggests that what this actually means is unknowable, so it’s not too productive to worry about what this means. While I’m not sure how Kakeru would’ve dealt with it had he taken Hina’s rejection directly, I recovered within a week and was back on my feet, doing what I do best.
- Pained at seeing Hachiman take yet another one, Yui reprimands him tearfully. Such gestures further lead me to suggest that out of everyone, Yui has grown to genuinely care for Hachiman and his well-being, even where he himself is unwilling to or unable to do so. This represents a vast potential for character development, and it’s going to be interesting to see how Hachiman develops as this season wears on.
- OreGairu‘s first season suggested that the fallout from some of Hachiman’s actions did have something of an impact, but because his biggest stunt was near the series’ conclusion, the precise impact was never really seen. As such, going into the future, I also will look forwards to seeing whether or not OreGairu Zoku will bring to the table the matter of whether or not Hachiman’s methods can have consequences that are significantly more far-reaching than anything he’d experienced in the first season.
OreGairu Zoku immediately dispenses with the exposition and appears to be shifting towards notions of courtship and dating: previously, I had speculated that it would not be unreasonable for any sort of continuation to deal with the most tricky of all human emotions. The justification for this prediction lies in the anime’s title itself, and the fact that Hachiman’s interactions with Yui and Yukino in the first season gradually led to a shift in their dynamics. Back then, Hachiman distanced himself from Yui after learning he’d saved her dog and believed that her friendship with him was out of obligation, and that took a bit of manoeuvring to repair. It was logical that once friendship (or at least, a degree of cordiality) was present in the Service Club, a continuation of OreGairu would likely deal with love itself (otherwise, the group would’ve just had more male members). Insofar, viewers return to just this: OreGairu Zoku brings back the elements that made the first season so entertaining, and with the way that OreGairu had kept each episode interesting and difficult to predict, I cannot ascertain for certain whether or not romance will really be the second season’s focus. What is known is that OreGairu Zoku is very likely to deliver an immensely satisfactory anime that is worth following for its combination of comedy and drama.