First, a brief anecdote from this morning. I promise it’s relevant.
So, I was out jogging this morning, listening to the endlessly classic Emergency & I . It’s a defeated, cynical album, and most of its songs are drenched in the panic, ennui, and loneliness of mid-20s existence. Frankly, it’s kind of a weird choice to go running to, and it’s not doing anything to make the miles easier. But then I hit You Are Invited , which always seems to come out of nowhere – a sappy, hopelessly optimistic reminder that “You are so needed / if you really want to go / you are invited, for all time.” I come panting to a stop at a traffic light, and as I look down to hit the button, I see someone has placed a sticky note on the pole reading simply “You are beautiful.”
Seriously, that actually happened.
But anyway, that’s kind of how this show makes me feel. It’s relentlessly cynical, and it doesn’t pull any punches, and life is not easy for Hiki, both because high school sucks and because his personality naturally sets him against all the wonderful things he could be experiencing. But if anyone were to ask why I love this show, I’d say it has to be because all this great writing and wonderful characterization and brutal cynicism works in service of an inherent, underlying optimism that I can really respond to. I can’t buy optimism untested by experience – optimism like that has no relation to my own life, and doesn’t make me feel like a show understands me. But optimism in the face of all evidence? Optimism in spite of everything life’s thrown against you, in spite of your own personality’s attempts to shield you from pain by suppressing hope?
That’s fucking beautiful.
Anyway. Sorry. I really like this show.
0:58 – “When I see her underwear, I just think, ‘Yep, that’s 100% cotton.’” – Thank you, OreGairu. Jesus christ.
2:07 – Okay, this little sister actually does totally come off like a Monogatari character. I’ll give them that one
4:00 – Goddamnit, I go through that whole sappy opening monologue, and of course the OP just outright states, “Fairytales are rarely full of happiness – I know that, but that’s where I want to go.” Thesis established
7:10 – “She was a healthy, graceful girl.” Goddamnit Hiki you can be so gross sometimes.
9:00 – Ooh, glad to see this guy again. Hiki will hate it, but he’s a good influence on him
10:12 – Man this stuff is so well done. Of course Hiki sees self-confidence and charisma as some magical force that requires a title only he’s perceptive enough to articulate
10:45 – I also love Yuki’s “Source: Me” bits of wisdom. They’re a funny gag, but they’re also perfectly appropriate for someone who’s attempting to basically become a living model of superior human behavior
13:35 – Goddamnit this show is impossible to write about. How useful is it for me to just continuously point out “Smart, funny, well-written, smart, I know that feel, good characterization, smart” at every little thing? Screw you OreGairu
14:32 – Okay, I guess I can at least say that I think this episode conceit is another great angle to attack teen psychology and how much your experience is based on perception. It’s a graceful way to bring our protagonists’ acidic perspectives into contact with social dynamics they normally wouldn’t have any interest in, and would merely trivialize in the way Yuki already did.
15:22 – Trying to grill your alpha-girl friend? Bad idea, Yui. You are so much worse at this than she is
18:10 – Very cute, Hiki. Define friendship in such a specific way that you automatically exclude anyone even vaguely similar to yourself. Man, high school’s hard enough, why we gotta make it so much harder on ourselves?
18:38 – Does this work? They’re barely even playing his androgyny for laughs, now – or at least, if there’s a joke here, it’s that Hiki has just decided he’s totally comfortable with being into it. It’s not a real comment on sexuality as a spectrum instead of a tally mark (or, god forbid, a choice), but I think anime is still probably a good fifteen years away from progressive sexuality anyway
…though KyoAni is developing that swimming anime… hmm…
19:47 – Every episode of OreGairu there are like five moments that make me think, “How has no other anime made this point before?” This thing about a group friendship being dependent on its catalyst member is something everyone has experienced, but it’s just one of those awkward life truths that never makes it into media
21:30 – This is also great. It would be too easy to just let Hiki grow with people like Yuki around – he needs to learn to respect and appreciate friendships with people utterly unlike him as well
Welp, not much to reflect on here. This show is still the best, and still finds new ways to frame identity and social structures in high school, as well as new insights into how people think and behave, as well as further exploration of Hiki and Yuki’s self-defeating attitudes. And the dialogue’s great, and it’s really funny, and weekly problems are diverse and well-executed, and it has a genuine love for all of its characters. Keep doing your thing, OreGairu