OreGairu – Episode 1

OreGairu (or whatever). Yet another romantic comedy, but unlike many studios, Brain’s Base actually makes good things. The synopsis seems pretty standard, but these things are all in the execution anyway – I don’t want gimmicky twists, I just want believable characters having believable conversations that result in believable drama. So let’s get to it.

Episode 1

3:00 – Hah! That’s awesome. Start off with one of those standard “nothing ever happens to me, I’m too mature for high school” speeches every back-row-seat-next-to-the-window protagonist starts with ever, and then have it immediately be ripped apart for the juvenile tripe it is by an actual adult. Beautiful.

3:29 – Oh jeez, a female teacher insecure about her age? Fresh!

5:47 – Remember what I said about “believable conversations?” I don’t think this whole premise-establishing one qualifies. Come on, Brain’s Base – impress me.

6:17 – This stuff I like. Establish him as actually coming from a place of actually caring about things, so his current personality isn’t just “Angsty Protagonist,” but a person who’s been led by circumstances to their current premature cynicality.

6:40 – My god, they truly are starting this protagonist as a full-on Fedora-wielding Nice Guy. Alright, I’m intrigued.

7:50 – Wow, these little asides are really sharp. The believability meter is wavering well into the green.

8:26 – Waving that fedora flag high! I’m kind of surprised there haven’t been more characters that are ostentatiously this archetype, but I guess that might be either because it’s kind of hard to make them likeable, or because they’re basically the opposite of a self-insert or power-fantasy protagonist.

I’m a big fan.

9:45 – “Isn’t changing yourself the same as running away?” An excellent retort, undercut visually by his self-satisfied look. I think that first conversation was an outlier, this stuff is really sharp.

11:47 – “The type that doesn’t have friends even though people would kill to talk with you…” This show is brushing off with single genre-savvy asides concepts that would literally take up full episodes of weaker shows. It actually reminds me of the first episode of Tonari – hopefully this one can keep up the pacing and intelligence.

13:00 – Maybe it’s just because I can deeply relate to protagonists who are as inwardly focused and self-analyzing as these two, but I’m loving this so far. Normally “the world is cruel, people suck” character types are written as much more shallow in their ways of viewing the world – these two are both intelligent, but they’re young and insecure, and so that intelligence doesn’t result in friends or happiness, it results in self-consciousness and isolation.

13:57 – We’re introduced to a new character’s tits before her face. Okay.

15:54 – “I can’t be this serious with my friends, either.” Another line that cuts to the core of high school in one offhand aside.

17:20 – The amount of good points this show is making is kind of unnerving now – that “talent is kind of a fake concept” speech so mirrors my own thinking on the subject that I’m wondering if I’ll be able to maintain objectivity reviewing this thing.

18:05 – And now she’s impressed by the honesty of our jaded protagonist, a turn perfectly foreshadowed by that offhand remark about lacking honesty with her other friends.

20:50 – I love how both of them have very logical and well-reasoned trains of thought, but his emotional immaturity causes him to form that into some kind of superior shield, while her lack of experience and insularity causes her to project absurd standards onto the world. These are the kind of characters I want to follow, and watch learn from their mistakes.

And Done

Damn, this is shaping up to be an incredible season. After this ridiculous feast of immature but well-reasoned philosophies, sharp comments on youth, and incredibly believable characters, I can’t believe I spent last season filling this niche with Kotoura and Sakurasou. I don’t want to jinx it, but I think this might be the one I’ve been waiting for – the mythic romantic comedy with as much brain as heart. Congrats, Brain’s Base. I think you’ve arrived.