OP: 「ユキトキ」 (Yuki Toki) by やなぎなぎ (Yanagi Nagi)
「こうして彼らのまちがった青春が始まる」 (Koushite Karera no Machigatta Seishun ga Hajimaru)
“Thus Their Misguided Youth Begins”
I don’t think I’ve had the pleasure of covering a show this cynical throughout my entire blogging career. And if this first episode is any indication on how the rest of the series is going to pan out, I am super pumped to see just how awkward both the story and the characters will get.
Starting with the basics, I just have to comment on the art style that Yahari is using. It may just be my personal taste, but it’s taking me some effort to enjoy the eye style they decided to use on the Hachiman. I can understand that this decision may have been selected to accentuate his awkward personality but compared to everyone else it just seems a bit out of place. But the moment you get passed it, there’s an abundance of quality in almost everything else. From the gorgeous up-close face shots to the frames that appear during Hachiman’s flashbacks — they’re full of crisp lines, smooth movements, and most importantly no random “cut and paste” graphics like another show that tackles the whole “friendship” thing.
I’m sure that everyone who’s reading this post right now is saying “This is nothing like Haganai!”. And I’d have to completely agree with you — it’s far from it. At the same time, I can’t bash on Stilts for using Haganai as a point of comparison because there are a decent amount of similarities. Besides Yahari’s premise of outcasts coming together, its characters could be described as a messy fusion of different personalities from Haganai. Unlike the loveable Kodaka, the awkward Hikigaya Hachiman is almost his polar opposite. Snarky, sarcastic, generally unlikeable and not only does he openly embrace his friendlessness but he actually strives to keep the status quo as is. Then there’s Yukinoshita Yukino, the person most people would say is Yozora’s stand in. But once you get passed her exterior features, you’ll see that she’s like a weird combination of Yozora’s cool and composed demeanor with all of Sena’s snobby behavior and a bit of Rika’s common sense. Finally, you have the curve ball — Yuigahama Yui. The happy-go-lucky character who seems to serve as comedic relief when things get too tense. Almost like a certain unko loving sister…
With a bunch of characters that somewhat resemble Haganai’s cast you may also be asking, “Takaii, what makes this show actually worth watching?” And that my friends, is where Yahari makes it dramatic shift from Haganai. Unlike Haganai where everyone seems to like one another, Yahari embraces each character’s unique personality by making it as awkward as possible for everyone. Almost to the point where you’d think that everyone flat out hates each other! For me personally, I love it whenever Hachiman sets himself up by revealing something embarrassing yet manages to recover and somehow end up on top of things — a feat most males in romcom’s wouldn’t be able to do even if they broke the fourth wall! And let’s not forget how Hachiman and Yukino could care less about social norms and are always at each other’s neck!
Even though this first episode didn’t leave the biggest impression on me, I did find myself wanting more as the credits started to role. Judging from what happened this week, I feel pretty safe in saying that this first arc seems to focusing on the Volunteers Club as they attempt to help others overcome/achieve things. Something that once all the formalities like character introductions are out of the way, should get really interesting or really funny. I hope.
ED: 「Hello Alone」by 雪ノ下雪乃（早見沙織）& 由比ヶ浜結衣（東山奈央）(Yukinoshita Yukino (CV: Hayami Saori) & Yuigahama Yui (CV:Touyama Nao))