I loved the first episode. Its characters rang absurdly true for me, and good character writing/dialogue is pretty much my kryptonite. Let’s get right to it.
OreGairu – Episode 2
2:24 – I said this last time, but I think what separates this guy from other “I’m above it all, high school is for fools” loner characters is that the author has completely thought through his philosophy. It’s not just an anime-only front, it’s a fully articulated, though extremely narrow-minded and naïve, worldview. For instance, I really loved Hyouka, but Oreki’s initial “low energy philosophy” never really felt like something a real person would articulate – he’s certainly characterized well beyond that, but the disconnect between anime-reality and reality-reality there was somewhat off-putting to me initially. But this guy I can believe in completely.
3:03 – Hopefully this episode mirrors the last, in that its worst moment is a dumb cliched spinster joke that we can get out of the way in the first five minutes.
4:55 – Oh my god, that feeling – waiting for a pause in the conversation, not having the social clout to actually steer the conversation towards your needs, standing awkwardly off to one side. This shoooow.
6:52 – Hah! Yesss. I was a little worried our protagonist would actually be effective here. Nope!
10:05 – I guess this is the kinda stuff (“You could tell me if you thought my laugh was gross” – “No, I don’t like talking to you when you’re gross”) people were comparing to Monogatari? I don’t really agree with that one – Monogatari is all word games, dancing around your meaning, highly stylized vocal affections, and a hint of sadism. This is just two abrasive, over-analytical people having a conversation
10:20 – This is a great ending to this confrontation. Her friend uses the power dynamic to her advantage when she knows Yui is too upset to fight back, and demands she speak frankly. But now, when the dynamic has shifted and Yui is able to speak frankly, her friend immediately gets on her phone, pretends to only half-listen, and is only able to reaffirm their friendship with a “yeah, whatever.” Shields all around
13:14 – The direction and soundtrack didn’t really add anything in that first episode, but they’re doing a lot of work as Chuunibyou-enabling accomplices here.
15:06 – That notebook is amazing. “Called me gross 15 times today. Treated me like some sex predator. Tried making a joke, but she ignored me.”
16:58 – Wow, the Gungnir Hammer, eh? Man, they’re not being subtle about this one. Although I did like the “What’s Chuunibyou?” –show cuts away, because everybody in the fucking audience knows what Chuunibyou is–
18:22 – “Kill the bitch yada yada” – I can understand people not wanting to be friends with this asshole; I mean, obviously. He’s an insecure, dickish, narcissistic high school student. But not all good characters have to be either a version of you or a version of your best friend, and it’s refreshing to me to see a character the show is unafraid to paint as petty and dickish but still fundamentally empathetic and human.
18:33 – Okay, now I know this show is pandering to me specifically. A storytelling critiquing session within my romantic comedy? I don’t know who loves me up there, but thanks
20:55 – “Will you read my writing again?” Yeah, this show is just absurd. There was a little bit about this topic in the last episode with the “people use excuses like not having talent to give up without the effort needed to succeed at anything,” and here it comes up again – the core requirement for success in any art form is never, never, never talent. It’s perseverance. You’re going to suck. You’re going to suck for a long time – years, frankly, regardless of your rate of improvement. If it’s writing you’re attempting, you will suck for at least a thousand pages. But it’s the only way, and the only thing that separates a writer from an amateur is the willpower, self-hatred, or lunacy necessary to shove through them all
I can understand people not liking this show all that much. If you’re not interested in these very specific character portraits, in the way it goes deep on social dynamics and insecurity, and in a kind of snarky awareness of storytelling form (this show constantly plays bait-and-switch in small ways while still maintaining a classic narrative), then there isn’t that much else there. The romance is non-existent so far, the characters are nearly all somewhat unlikeable (because they’re, you know, insecure self-righteous teenagers, who are never fully realized people in the way most anime likes to pretend they are), the issues are mundane, the jokes are kind of mean-spirited, and the visuals are middling.
But I’m pretty sure this is going to end up being one of my favorite shows of all time.
It’s honest, it’s smart, it’s viciously true to life, and it actually does have a lot of heart and passion: for these characters, for the trials of youth, and for, apparently, writing as an art form. If it can keep it up, this will be the romantic comedy I’ve been waiting for.