Original Run: April 5, 2013 - June 28, 2013 Number of Episodes: 13 Genre: Comedy, Romance, Slice of Life Based on the Series Created By: Wataru Watari and Ponkan⑧
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for My Teen Romance Comedy SNAFU. Reader discretion is advised.***
Hachiman Hikigaya (voiced by Takuya Eguchi) has an unapologetically low view of the world. He finds the idea of a carefree, fun-filled high school life laughable, and anyone who adheres to it is a fool. Unfortunately, this attitude does tend to land him in hot water. Thanks to his most recent rant, Hachiman is forced to join his school’s Service Club.
There Hachiman meets the club’s president, Yukino Yukinoshita (voiced by Saori Hayami). Despite her good looks and top grades, Yukino’s dissatisfaction with “proper” social etiquette is on par with Hachiman’s. However, Yukino uses her bluntness to help others solve whatever problem they might be facing.
The two’s first assignment is to help Hachiman’s classmate Yui Yuigahama (voiced by Nao Touyama), a meeting that soon proves life-changing; Yui joins the Service Club following her request’s fulfillment.
Together, Hachiman, Yukino, and Yui throw themselves into helping others, even if it means their efforts go unappreciated.
For context, I am reviewing My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU (MTRC) seven years after its 2013 release. Furthermore, this is the first step in a three-step process to adequately cover 2020’s My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Climax!, the third installment in the MTRC franchise.
Furthermore, MTRC was one of many entries on what can be considered my “Inconceivable List” – a collection of shows that, as an anime fan, I have, inconceivably, not yet seen. Other notable examples include Bleach, Code Geass, and My Hero Academia. When I eventually do get around to watching these series, there is a bit of awkwardness. As is the nature of writing for an anime-centered website, one cannot entirely shield oneself from picking up some impression of the medium’s most popular releases.
MTRC – both anime and, I assume, light novel versions – has been highly regarded. I’m happy to say I didn’t know the reasons for its praise before watching. Albeit I was aware of lead protagonists Hachiman Hikigaya and Yukino Yukinoshita’s popularity. Unfortunately, merely knowing that people like a show is often more than enough to form expectations; expectations I could only hope would not cloud my thoughts.
With that out of the way, MTRC was thoroughly enjoyable. The most striking aspect about this series was something that would have been impossible to notice back in 2013. Despite the seven-year gap between then and this review, MTRC hasn’t aged a day. If I didn’t know any better, I would not have any trouble believing this show came out in 2020.
With the oversaturation of the high-school, slice-of-life, love-story genre – a prevalent reality back in 2013 and one that has only grown truer since – many of these types of shows fade to become distant memories. Nevertheless, MTRC has endured. I believe this is thanks to what the series chose to sideline – romance.
Don’t get me wrong; there were romantic elements throughout this show, and I suspect (and hope) seasons two and three will build upon the groundwork laid down in this chapter. However, the love story that did exist took a backseat while the narrative developed a more platonic relationship between the three main characters: Hachiman Hikigaya, Yukino Yukinoshita, and Yui Yuigahama. And when a romantic edge did crop up, it was notably unique from other anime of its genre, an aspect that still holds up well.
Let me set the usual scene:
A group of female characters forms around the male lead (reverse setups exist, but are rare). In all the shows that have done this, how many times has the primary love-plot centered around the male protagonist and the FIRST female lead he encounters? It doesn’t matter if there are far more interesting characters introduced later on; that first pairing is the only one that matters.
In the case of MTRC, the introductions of our protagonists were as follows:
Considering the mentioned trend, this would have meant Hachiman and Yukino would be the ones to dominate any romantic plotline. Perhaps that development will come to fruition in the subsequent two seasons, but it wasn’t the case in this installment. At best, Hachiman ended this chapter with a strong admiration towards Yukino. If anything, there was more time and effort spent on building a romantic relationship between Hachiman and Yui.
Yui wasn’t exactly subtle about her feelings, and there were plenty of reasons why she might have fallen in love with Hachiman. But even this was a secondary feature of MTRC.
This show’s strength came from its three lead characters. Most notably, from their similar experiences before their meeting. In some form, Hachiman, Yukino, and Yui had been – and still were – victims of social ostracization, a.k.a., they were often the targets of bullying.
For Hachiman and Yukino, this dampened their views of how people interacted with one another. They believed, and not without evidence, that there was usually some self-serving motive behind a person’s. Rarely did anyone do anything out of the kindness of their hearts. Hachiman and Yukino’s reactions to this idea, though, were vastly different.
Hachiman chose to isolate himself. He never wanted to be at the center and preferred to be left alone. That isn’t to say his attitude was without merit. After all, not everyone needs a massive group of friends to be happy; getting everyone to like you is typically an exercise in futility. Plus, a smile (forced or genuine) and kind words can’t solve every problem. Sometimes a bitter reality check is necessary. Hachiman was particularly good at doing this.
Yukino, on the other hand, saw value in helping others with their problems. Despite her cold disposition towards most everyone, she took pride in her work with the Service Club. But although she would offer her assistance, Yukino was firmly opposed to solving someone’s request. Yukino’s help involved setting the stage for someone to take charge of their own life. As such, she was blunt with her words. Yukino had no qualms about challenging people’s perceptions, especially if they were misguided.
Then there was Yui, who was nowhere near as jaded as her two companions. Her role in the group kept Hachiman and Yukino from going down a darker, more self-destructive path. Although sometimes a bit put off by her clubmates’ bite, Yui knew Hachiman and Yukino were doing more good than they got credit for. She might not have been the most insightful of the trio, but Yui’s unwavering support was indispensable. This is the reason why MTRC’s development of Yui and Yukino’s friendship was much more enduring than a possible romance with Hachiman.
To make a long story short, I can’t wait to see how these three continue to grow throughout the next two seasons.
Although I said I enjoyed MTRC, I didn’t say I understood its popularity. Yes, this series was an exceptional slice-of-life anime, and it has earned every ounce of praise it has received. But as to why this show is so highly regarded remains a mystery to me.
Perhaps, it is MTRC season two that brings this story to the next level. Still, the question that keeps bugging me is, “Would I have been satisfied with this series had I watched it back in 2013?”
No matter which way I think about it, the answer I keep coming to is “no.” The series was good and I would have recommended no doubt, but let’s not kid ourselves. This season just ended.
It’s easy to overlook this because any lack of conclusion can be alleviated in the following two chapters. Or, at least, that’s the case now. Don’t forget, second seasons for an anime are not guaranteed.
Before I continue, I am assuming MTRC gave no announcement of a second series following the first. And yet, even if there was one, there were still two-years separating the two installments. That’s a long time to wait for – what, exactly? Although this show was fun, funny, and entertaining, it didn’t deliver a closer.
I am glad I can jump right into the next chapter. Too bad that doesn’t excuse this season’s lack of a natural breakpoint. MTRC left itself in a position to deliver something truly special. Luckily, it happened to be given the chance to do so.
I feel satisfaction from finally watching a series I should have gotten to a long time ago. That doesn’t always mean I end up liking the show in question, just that an enduring sense of nagging lifts from my mind.
Fortunately, this series held up and held up well.
Despite releasing in 2013, this show hasn’t aged in the slightest. Its characters remain relatable and outstanding, and considering what I have seen from 2020, maybe even more so. This story did plenty to separate itself from the typical slice-of-life formula. Plus, there is the comforting notion of knowing more is ready to go.
My Teen Romance Comedy SNAFU has earned a recommendation.
But these were just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise My Teen Romance Comedy SNAFU? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.
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