Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru – Episode 12

Hey guys. OreGairu time! But before that, let’s talk about… romance. 

In many of my rants, I’ll talk about how characters lack chemistry, or how they have an unequal relationship, or whatnot. This is honestly a pretty big problem in anime – if we’re not being told-not-shown characters are in love, we’re often getting those unequal, moerotic-based relationships between a man and a mental child .

OreGairu says Fuck That. We’ve seen Hikki and Yuki grow to respect each other through actively helping and supporting each other. Their banter has always been strong, and reveals the many places their philosophies match or compliment each other, as well as their clear status as intellectual equals . And the reasons they respect and even admire each other are perfectly clear – Hikki’s bluntness, insight, and ultimate loyalty, Yuki’s ambition, confidence, and refusal to back down. Romance doesn’t exist in a vacuum – you can’t just create two characters and add romance by saying they love each other . OreGairu knows this, and really couldn’t be handling it better.

That said, last episode definitely went a little too well for Hikki and Yuki, and I have a sinking suspicion this episode’s going to break my heart.

…fine. Let it be done!

Episode 12

0:41 – OreGairu once again writes the book on actual sibling dialogue. His sister’s deadpan ‘wow, so cool’ is pretty perfect

2:51 – I’m not the authority on OPs, but I really do love this one. Great wistful tone, perfectly appropriate lyrics

3:50 – “I’ll have you know I rate Sis quite highly. I wanted to be like her after all,” Well jeez, isn’t Yuki acting self-confident and honest all of a sudden. It’s almost like the last couple episodes have directly focused on strengthening her trust in Hikki and developing their relationship in a completely organic way or something

3:55 – “You’re fine as you are.” YES HIKKI GO

Sorry. You know I’ve always been a sucker for this show, and it hasn’t even focused on the romance before now, and good romance is actually my great weakness, so not just giggling and clapping here is gonna be pretty tough

5:07 – “Could you perform one more song?” Hayama’s a goddamn superhero. It’s funny that this show is accused of pandering to people who relate to Hikki, because Hikki and Yuki are the ones being regularly portrayed as immature, and Hayama’s the most realistically flattering portrait of a put-together popular guy I’ve seen

5:38 – “I’ll go look for her!” “That’s a terrible idea, and it won’t help anyway.” Nice little jab at the classic “oh jeez, we need to find them – let’s run around and search randomly!” anime trope. I’d call out a specific example, but I think this writeup’s already had enough Sakurasou-bashing 

5:55 – “But you didn’t say it was impossible” while actually smiling. I told you, you guys. These two…

6:24 – They’re wrapping up a lot of character conflicts here – Yuki asking her sister for help is a big step (and her kinda dickish sister lets her know it)

7:10 – Aw man, God Knows-ing it up. Goddamn do I hope Hikki gets to see it

7:47 – Speaking of resolving character conflicts… “Yui, can I rely on you for vocals?” Ba-dum-psh.

8:37 – I mean, she’s gotta be on the roof, right? They’re always on the roof

9:00 – “Roof of the special wing.” Some things never change…

10:09 – And now Hikki’s doing his best to live up to the trust Yuki’s put in him. They grow up so fast…

11:02 – Oh my god, that’s fucking brilliant. Hikki can’t be someone other than himself (kinda neatly foreshadowed with Yuki’s ‘that’s who I’ve always been’ and Hikki agreeing with her earlier), but Hayama is the perfect man for the job

11:22 – “Everyone’s waiting! Don’t worry – they all did their best for you!” God, could you imagine Hikki trying to handle this role?

13:03 – Man Hikki, you are so damn mad . Normally he doesn’t care this much – is he just furious at what she put Yuki through? Or is this him actually trying to be his most true self, to match up to Yuki’s example

13:50 – “Why is that the only way you know how to do things?” YES. FUCK. YES. DROP THE FUCKIN’ AXE, HAYAMA. ‘Yeah, you may see the worst instincts in people – but you don’t have to fucking work that way. It doesn’t make you special or insightful – it just makes you alone. Grow the fuck up, Hikki.’ Hayama for president.

17:37 – “There are people who’d get hurt by watching you get hurt. You’d be wise to realize that soon.” You’d be wise to realize a lot of stuff soon, Hikki. You need to hang out with Hayama more often

18:16 – “You pickin’ a fight?” Pretty close to the first thing he said to her, right?

19:07 – “Great minds think alike, huh?” Oh man, these two are so adorable it’s almost insufferable. So much love

20:02 – “Nah, feel free to lie. I lie all the time.” And that concludes our last narrative thread, right? Oh god.

22:00 – “Even this pointless chapter is one I’ll someday lose.” Oh man, getting super-overt about the intended audience for this show

And Done

Oh GOD DAMNIT. The last one is gonna be some bonus episode one-off or something, isn’t it? You know, considering this episode resolved every single conflict perfectly and whatnot.

So yeah. Fantastic episode. Hikki sticks to his guns on his personality but directly expresses his admiration for Yuki, Yuki gets ridiculously overt in her flirting, and Hayama lays down the fucking law. The drama is resolved handily, we get resolution to Yuki’s conflicts with Hikki, Yui, her sister, and even kinda herself, all the characters seem much more comfortable being themselves, and it ties it back around perfectly with a return to the initial dynamic, even making callouts to their very first conversation. The main relationship progresses in a way that remains true to the original characters while reflecting both their growing maturity and clear mutual affection. Hikki gets one more absolutely brutal analysis takedown. There are more honest smiles than in the rest of the series put together.

In other words…

Oh my god you guys this show is so good.  So, so good. That was perfect. Holy shit. So happy. Love these characters, love this writing, love these ideas, love this bulletproof narrative structure. The source material is obviously fantastic, and this series composition guy clearly outdid himself as well. Goddamn. So satisfied. Nice job anime you did it A+.

Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru – Episode 11

Well here we are boys and girls. The best part of the week. Working on these writeups is honestly kinda regularly stressful, but OreGairu definitely makes me appreciate the way 23 minutes can stretch to an hour. There are many shows that I love, but OreGairu is pretty close to the one I would actually want to make.

Okay, I’d actually emphasize the romance more, and there’d probably be an FLCL-esque fantastical metaphor for some of the underlying personal themes, and I’d let more scenes rise to cathartic release and not cut them off with harsh, realistic anticlimax. But still!

Many weeks ago, someone mentioned how the festival we’re now in the thick of would probably mark the halfway point of the light novels. Narrative-wise, that feels about right – Hikki still has a long way to go, and the character turn Yuki’s about to hit isn’t going to “fix” everything, or possibly anything. But it will certainly change things.

Both their viewpoints have always been naïve and hypocritical, but they’ve always managed to distance the contradictory elements of their philosophies and personalities from each other. Right now, Yuki’s caught deep in the lie of her need to be better than her sister – she can’t accept that she’s just a very different person with very different strengths. If things had gone normally, she’d probably be willing to rely on Hikki to help her at this point – he’s the one person who understands her well enough for her to act shields-down around. But right now, he’s also the person most representative of her hypocrisy. And so, with no escape route that doesn’t require giving up her pride, she’s fled from the situation.

Hikki’s viewpoint is less complicated – he’s convinced he knows the rules and hates the game, so he refuses to play and tells himself it’s better that way. Last week proved he’s not so callous as all that – he deliberately made a fool of himself for the sake of Yuki’s pride. He tells himself he can’t forgive her, but I think he already has, and the only reason this charade is going on is because he’s too attached to his fraying viewpoint as well.

Honestly, it’s freaking poetry watching this house of cards crumble down. They could certainly take an easy route out here – since Yuki accepted Hikki’s rescue with relative grace, they could conceivably have Hikki continue to resolve this situation – but that’s pretty much the last thing I want to see. Yuki needs this more than Hikki does. Bring on the blood.

Episode 11

1:19 – Jeez Hikki, calling Yui? You are terrible at not caring about this situation

5:41 – Aw man, they’re being such good friends here. No defensiveness at all – “I won’t tell you some idealistic nonsense, but this can’t be the right way to handle this.” “What is the right way, then?” “I don’t know”

6:10 – Yesssss. “Not ‘someone,’ or ‘everyone,’ rely on us.” Yui ain’t playing games with their philosophical bullshit – this is about whether they can trust each other

6:11 – And of course Yuki can’t possibly respond to that

7:16 – Hikki’s signature move – leaving the room when the other two express an honest moment, uncomfortable and assuming he’s not meant to be a part of it, the way it’s always been

7:38 – “They say if you change yourself you can change the world, but that’s a complete lie.” God, he’s such a fuckin’ prick. He’s being offered the open door here, but he’s still determined to stick to his pride. That’s understandable, of course – he articulated his fear of getting betrayed during the Yui fight. Still sucks to see it, though

9:20 – “If you look at it closely, one side is just relaxing.” Goddamn, Hikki. I doubt Yuki wants this – this is all yourrage here

10:40 – Nope, she’s cool with it! I don’t think initial Yuki would have taken kindly to being supported this way – she may not be willing to rely on them, but she certainly won’t reject their support

11:09 – And it really did help – Hikki’s attack put Sagami incredibly off-balance, allowing Yuki to regain control of the meeting and the committee. Damn, Hikki!

11:34 – “You make excuses for the dumbest things, but you won’t do it when you actually need to, will you?” Looks like he’s more of your ideal person, then you thought, eh Yuki? NOW KISS

12:29 – Oh my god they’re adorable. Okay, so Yuki wasn’t actually forced to clear up the initial problem, and Hikki did in fact make a tremendous peace offering. So the conflict didn’t force the Yuki breakthrough I was hoping for, but either way they’re back to bantering again

15:53 – Man, how is Sagami gonna fuck everything up? They’ve spent an entire episode having her make vindictive pouty faces

16:52 – “Vice-Chairman… we can all hear you flirting with Hikki.”

17:42 – This might be the first time I’ve actually laughed at Trap, purely because Hayama hamming it up is just amazing. Hayama is so great

19:16 – They share a look yet again. This is actually worrying – this episode is pressing Hikki and Yuki’s relationship so positively and aggressively that it’s pretty much guaranteed something is going to go horribly wrong

19:41 – “So I haven’t heard anything about what you want to know.” Seriously. She’s not an idiot, Hikki

And Done

D’awww. All three of these characters are so adorable when they’re actually getting along. The resolution to Yuki getting cornered ended up requiring fewer concessions than I’d expected, but of course, this show is always more about subtle changes in perspective than groundbreaking paradigm shifts. And this episode certainly changed some perspectives – Yuki in particular was much more honest than before, and her confidence is beginning to come across as less brittle and more natural. There’s no edge in her humor any more – she and Hikki are perfectly comfortable with each other (so comfortable they were making everyone else uncomfortable, which was a nice gag), and Hikki’s “inability to forgive her” certainly has a strange way of expressing itself, what with his casting himself as the villain specifically to rescue her. Granted, that’s something that’s always come naturally to him, but as opposed to his work with the club, this time there was no possible pretense involved – he was just working hard to help a close friend.

And yeah, “close friend.” This episode had Yuki regularly smiling, openly admitting her friendship with Hikki through that “see you tomorrow,” and pretty much overtly flirting with him. Meanwhile, Hikki makes an incredibly obvious pass at seeing how she feels about him, and gets encouraged to admit his feelings for himself. With two episodes to go, a traditional ending would dictate a final act of desperation from Sagami that throws everything in jeopardy, a temporary break in Yuki and Hikki’s current trust, and an ultimate reconciliation that wraps up all the loose ends. But this isn’t a traditional show, and it’s an adaptation of an ongoing series anyway. I’d personally be perfectly happy with Live Alive Redux followed by a full episode of smooches, but something tells me it’s not gonna be quite that simple.

Welp, time to not watch more OreGairu for seven days…

Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru – Episode 10

OreGairu! Finally.

Last week set up the ideal conflict for our There’s-no-way-I’d-fall-in-lovebirds. Concealing her previous run-in (lul) with Hikki pretty much puts the lie to Yuki’s entire philosophy – if she’s not above lying about that, her bluntly honest persona and declarations of moral superiority are dust. The acknowledgment of both how artificial her standards are and her own inability to match them would be quite the blow to her – ostracized by her own lack of social grace and living in the shadow of her sister, she doesn’t have a whole lot else to lean on.

Meanwhile, Hikki’s doing his best to revert back to his callous and well-defended initial self, but his own respect and feelings for Yuki are definitely going to make that difficult. In spite of his own “better” judgment, he values their time together – but forgiving her and accepting her lie would mean breaking with his own angry and self-satisfied view of human interactions, and the power balance between them has always relied on each of them maintaining their own brittle confidence anyway. Forgiving and forgetting would involve a lot of honesty and trust that I don’t think either of them are really ready for.

Fortunately, we have Yui there to break the ice and trample headlong through their silly little psychological games.

This one’s gonna be good.

Episode 10

0:40 – Just sitting in silence at opposite ends of the table. Yeah, seriously, you two are super mature

4:28 – Hikki’s certainly much more negative than he was at the start – he’s taking things much more personally. I also like Yui’s jerk friend still sticking up for her

5:30 – “You’re Haru’s sister, right? Her festival was amazing” Man, this episode is laying on the wound-salt like crazy

6:56 – God, their interactions are just painful to watch. If neither of them actually cared that much, there wouldn’t be any problem – but they’re both so proud, and they really do value each other’s respect, and the power structure of their banter is just way too fragile. FIX THIS OREGAIRU

7:32 – “I’ve decided to suspend the club.” Nooo! NOOOO! This is how it happens! Not with a big cathartic fight – you just let that waiting argument simmer, but you never address it, so you avoid interaction altogether and the relationship just fades away

8:19 – “Working together is a part of growing as well.” Yuki sits, staring downward, hand on her chin. She keeps her thoughts to herself

10:15 – Man, it is just painful to see Yuki’s confidence this damaged. From her perspective, taking this job is great, though – she can avoid coming clean with Hikki by avoiding the situation entirely and recovering her ego elsewhere – by directly competing with her sister’s legacy


14:30 – “She put on a concert. It was amazing!” ”I. Know.”

15:57 – What’s Haru’s game here? Is she really just that cruel?

16:29 – Or is she trying to make it impossible for Yuki to run from the situation?

17:20 – Nope, pretty cruel!

18:40 – “You should rely on others before it gets to that point.” They’re really emphasizing that theme this episode, which makes sense for this conflict, and hopefully is the reason Haru chose to isolate Yuki – she wants to force her to approach people from a position of mutual support and some degree of trust, not just leadership/superiority. And of course that kind of admitting your own fallibility would certainly resolve this Hikki situation quickly, too

It’s certainly not out of character for Hikki to remain on the sideline through all this, but it’s still kind of sad to watch. Not that Yuki would be interested in anything she could construe as pity from him right now

20:33 – Aw man, and just as I say that, he decides he can’t take it any more

And Done

Well, that was painful. They’re setting the tension as high as possible for this last act, and even introduced a character basically just to make life horrible for Yuki. The show itself is being pretty damn merciless here – she was already trapped in a lie regarding her philosophy, and now the festival is making her defend that philosophy in the face of basically everyone around her, with no support from Yui or Hikki. Well, until the end there, when Hikki’s empathy and obviously still-present respect for Yuki made him finally speak out and take the fall for what she really wanted to say. I think this is the longest the show has ever ridden some particular emotional status quo, but it’s not wasting time – it’s building tension towards some (likely horrible) breaking point. I’ve kept saying I want more Yuki development, and we’re certainly getting that – vicious, paradigm-breaking, Shinji Ikari-style Yuki development.

Fortunately, that happens to be my favorite kind.

Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru – Episode 9

Alright. With the camping arc over, we now have five episodes left to develop our main characters. I’m told our current LN-eating trajectory is leading towards some kind of festival finale, and the show has been alluding to Yuki’s problems too often for her situation not to play a pivotal role in the episodes to come. That’s awesome – she’s a great character and clearly has the most strongly built defenses, and since the camera follows Hikki so closely, any development of her pretty much implies he’s going to learn more about her home situation. Over these past several episodes, they’ve clearly become something resembling friends, but I doubt Yuki will take his learning more about her hangups willingly – there is infinite potential for really awesome drama there. Let’s see it through.

Episode 9

3:10 – Oh man, that slanted half-acknowledging stance when you really don’t want to be added to the conversation but also don’t want to come across as entirely rude, so you split the difference and just look ridiculous.

4:08 – I love Hikki’s sister’s incredibly obvious schemes

5:09 – Jeez, Hikki uses that defensive sideways stance all the time. Adorable, and again indicative of how you can convey a lot of personality through subtle visual cues alone. This show isn’t visually ostentatious, but it’s pretty carefully directed

6:08 – “Trying to find meaning behind pure coincidences or random events is a bad habit unpopular guys have.” This is both true and possibly aimed at every other goddamn romantic comedy.

6:58 – Yui just waiting for him to haltingly act like a normal human being and suggest wandering around. All these characters bounce off each other so well

7:20 – A nice trick, contrasting Hikki’s verbal philosophizing of himself with Yui’s visual appreciation of the world around her. Again, solid direction

7:56 – Also amused by the thought that if he were with Yuki instead, they’d be in total agreement on analyzing and selecting the most temperature-appropriate activity for this juncture

9:25 – I could listen to Hikki monologue all day. It’s such a poignant stage of maturity – he’s confident in his total assessment of the little status games the people around him are playing, but he lacks the confidence, drive, or maturity to rise above them. He’s perfectly content just stating the rules aren’t fair and thus he doesn’t want to play – meanwhile, Yui might not be able to articulate the rules that well, but she’s perfectly capable of enjoying the evening on its own merits. Hikki’s confidence and sense of self are based on his ability to analyze the systems, but ultimately that’s just another way of being trapped by those systems

11:10 – “Can’t take honest complement without undercutting it.” Check check check

13:00 – Oh man, Yuki’s not gonna like this. Her sister’s giving out some pretty key info about their home life, and I’m guessing that in her mind, this will change the power dynamic between her and Hikki in a pretty intolerable way

13:19 – “That means Yuki’s not gonna be chosen again.” Jeez, so she knows about Yuki’s feelings… and she pitiesher. That’s gotta sting

14:27 – It’s kind of fitting that with a character as guarded as Yuki, we actually learn far more about her when she isn’t even there

15:18 – Silly of me to hope for an awkward response from Hikki. Of course he’s already rationalized a prepared deflection for a question as dangerous as “do you like her”

15:34 – Genre awareness is making me wonder when the scene where we finally see Yuki in her yukata is gonna happen, but they might actually omit that trope. I do like how this show doesn’t just blanket attack tropes, and instead has a knowing love-hate relationship with them

16:28 – “Not looking back at the past is sort of my policy.” Hikki, your whole life philosophy is based on idolizing the simplistic “lessons” you’ve learned from the past

18:10 – “The more you know, the more problems you have.” Can’t really deny that one

18:43 – They are foreshadowing some upcoming Yuki conflict really hard here. I can’t imagine Hikki’s heroic rescue going well for anyone

19:22 – It’s nice that they’re bookending this episode with Hikki’s declaration of disbelief in fate and Yui’s confidence that they were fated to meet someday. Writing!

And Done

Oh man, that ending was brutal! So much good stuff in this episode – even at the very end, there was the nice parallel where Hikki himself interrupted both Yui and Yuki as they were likely about to tell the truth and damage his cynical view of the world, drawing a nice portrait of how self-generated his system really is. Great, charming moments between Hikki and Yui, a whole lot of perspective on Yuki’s situation, and man, that last speech… gah, I can’t fucking wait for next week. This show.

-edit- Still thinking about that ending, and I didn’t really go deeply into it originally, so I might as well add an actual comment. The conflict they’re brewing here is pretty much perfect, not just because it pulls in all the actual dramatic strands they’ve established so far, but also because it acts as a direct attack on both Hikki and Yuki’s philosophies. Hikki himself admits the standards he was holding Yuki to are ridiculous – his ability to forgive her for betraying his illusions is going to require some kind of acknowledgment that his pessimism about human nature is unsustainable. And on the other side, the standards Yuki holds herself to are absurd, and yeah, she’s basically been betraying her own philosophy from the moment she pretended not to know Hikki. They both know their perspectives can’t last, but they’re both proud and defensive, and so the situation will probably only get worse. I think Yui’s going to have to break the ice on this conflict, and however it resolves, something’s going to have to change.

This is going to be a long week…

Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru – Episode 8

Shit, I’m late! No homework this week. Let’s get to it.

Episode 8

1:07 – Oh boy, a full minute of silly trap jokes. Considering the usual stupid-joke-to-brilliant-insight ratio, the rest of this episode must be nuts

2:24 – Man, even this OP makes me stupid-happy at this point

2:49 – It is kind of funny that Trap and Yui have matching outfits

4:39 – waaaat

5:23 – Like with the stupid maid cafe, they sort of retroactively redeem the swimsuit stuff by contrasting it against his reaction to Yuki, who’s actually still wearing a shirt. They’re amping up the relationship between these two every episode now

6:18 – And then they do some more boob jokes. Dammit

8:46 – Hikki’s attitude: actually no different than the elementary schooler, but backed up by a whole lot of math and amateur psychology

11:18 – Hayama clear best costume

11:36 – “I have an idea.” “Looks like it isn’t a very good idea.” These two are getting way more playful in their banter. I’d think even Yui would notice it at this point

13:56 – This is a very complicated plan. I like how totally into it the popular crowd is getting, though

15:30 – Wow, I’m glad even Hayama realizes Hikki is just rationalizing here. Is that in line with his character? He’s more savvy than I thought

17:42 – “One small misstep and this could’ve turned into a huge problem.” No shit. That was a pretty demented plan, Hikki

18:48 – Brain’s Base getting their Shaft head tilt on

19:55 – Hayama is just a pretty great character. An actually well-adjusted teenager is weirdly enough one of the rarest character types to get such a full articulation (well, it’s not that weird, it’s probably because there’s less room for drama and character development with someone who’s already sure of who they are)

And Done

Hm, setting up some drama at the end there. It seems kinda weird to link Yui and Hikki’s past connection to Yuki in such a strained way, but I’m eager to get into more of Yuki’s family situation, so that’s something to look forward to.

As for the episode overall – eh, not my favorite. I was never hugely invested in the elementary schooler plotline outside of how it reflected on Hikki and Yuki’s own perspectives, and I’m a little disappointed this episode didn’t run with Yuki’s projection about the situation from the last one (saying the girl reminded her of Yui, when she’s clearly just a miniature Yuki), or her fight, for that matter. This episode did have some good Hayama moments, as well as a continuation of the changing relationship between Hikki and Yuki. Their banter only gets more adorable.

The resolution of the storyline was also pretty solid, and I particularly like how marginal their “fixing” of the situation really was – it’d be very out of character for anything in this show to really be that easy. This episode did have the highest concentration of scenes and jokes I could have done without (trap stuff, fanservice stuff, boob jokes), but I guess I’m just gonna have to learn to live with that.

Mainly I’m just mad I have to wait another week to finally get into Yuki’s issues. How this show tests me…

Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru – Episode 7

Only a quick prologue today, on these persistent, entirely bewildering Hikki-Araragi comparisons. I’m probably gonna get a little heated here, because I find this so ridiculous. There’s just something about this show that always makes me spill a little too much blood on the page[1] .

The only thing Hikki and Araragi have in common is they’re both snarky and articulate. That’s it. Hikki is not a pervert, he is totally insecure (especially with women), he has no savior complex, he is totally introverted and internally focused, he’s incredibly uncomfortable in his skin… outside of them both being well-written , they have almost nothing in common. Is that it? Is good writing enough to make two characters knockoffs of each other when it comes to anime?

Listen. “Snarky and articulate” is one of the base archetypes common to all media. Have people somehow missed this? Because if you’re going to point to Araragi, you might as well also be calling Hikki a Rosalind[2] , Viola[3] , or Falstaff[4] (or hell, even Ignatius Reilly[5] ) knockoff. Or a half of all Quentin [RES ignored duplicate image][6] Tarantino [RES ignored duplicate image][7]characters [RES ignored duplicate image][8] knockoff. Or an every-character-in-Scott-Pilgrim knockoff [RES ignored duplicate image][9] . Or a Bill Murray in every role he’s done since 1988 [RES ignored duplicate image][10] knockoff. Or hell, even a fucking Gandalf [RES ignored duplicate image][11] knockoff – it’s not so strong in the films, but he was a big ‘ol snarky asshole in the Hobbit.

So please. Can we quit it with these silly, reductive claims of Hikki being a derivative character? Because honestly, even if this weren’t one of the most common character types of all time, it’s also just a very misguided read of Hikki’s personality. He’s not a happy or confident guy. He’s dealing with some stuff. Get off his back.

Alright. That’s enough of that; OreGairu, you have the floor.

Episode 7

0:30 – And we’re back to OreGairu frankly dictating the terms of my life. If I spent half the time I spend rationalizing my not responding to texts actually responding to them…

1:20 – Holy shit, did OreGairu just manage a spin on these awful spinster jokes that actually works? This text-stalker gag – distinctive… relatable… actually reflective of character… kinda funny… yep, it checks out. Impressive work, OreGairu.

2:58 – Hikki finally expressed curiosity about that book that ends the OP last episode. I wonder if we’ll get back into that now that we’re in the back half


5:12 – Aw man, Yuki almost doing that stupid greeting in spite of herself made me laugh out loud

6:03 – When did the teacher turn into Frau? [RES ignored duplicate image][12]

6:58 – Hayama: charming, genuine, and even good with the kids. Hikki has every right to resent this guy

8:54 – Hikki’s attitude towards Yuki has definitely changed since last episode – he’s picking up on her emotional cues now, and so they’re also being made visible to the audience. Dear lord, does this mean there are ways to depict character growth visually? I thought only KyoAni knew that secret!

9:13 – “’Sharing a secret’ must be one of the techniques he uses to get along with people” – Funny, appropriate to character, and also just kind of psychologically true. All my love, OreGairu

10:31 – Ahhh so great. Hayama is pretty much a natural at diffusing social situations, but his view of people (and understanding of how they naturally react, being himself someone who has no trouble integrating into any social situation) means he just leads the loner to the other kids and assumes that will fix things. And of course Hikki and Yuki now actually getting along (in a way that doesn’t even slightly resemble the Araragi/Senjou confident, antagonistic flirting AHEM) is just awesome to see

11:32 – “Yeah, it’s got all sorts of weird stuff!” I love these moments where Hikki accidentally realizes he’s not actually that different from anyone else, and it freaks him out

18:20 – I think this show’s just fucking with me now. That conversation where all of them have such specific, individual perspectives on how social situations work was going so well, and Hina’s point about finding people you relate to through your hobbies is actually entirely true, and then… well, each episode’s gotta have one stupid joke…

18:58 – Damnit nice people, don’t diffuse the situation! They must fiiight

19:20 – “You know you’re inferior, so you feel like you’re being looked down on.” Is it wrong of me to pretty much assume this is a big part of the actual motivation behind American anti-intellectualism?

19:40 – Man, they really do only use that guy for gay jokes, don’t they? I’m pretty damn happy Brain’s Base cut out whatever their “date” from the third LN would have entailed…

20:38 – “I took 30 minutes to defeat her, and ended up making her cry.” Man, this is so damn good. First, it’s great that they know they don’t need to show any of this – we can pretty much visualize that entire conversation. But mainly it’s great to see Yuki’s deep-seated anger express itself in such harmful ways, and show that while she’s definitely smart, she’s still at a point where she can’t use it productively, and lashes out at people for their weakness because she’s not mature or confident enough to accept them or herself. She sees people’s shields, but she can’t empathize with them, and only hates them for it

And Done

Aww. I think that at this point, since Hikki and Yuki are actually pretty close friends by now, I’m just going to like the show more and more going forward. I know, it seems impossible – but smart characters having such full and honest conversations is pretty much everything I want out of this genre. This episode also had a ton of great social commentary, and finally pitted the two most naturally antagonistic characters against each other, with a wonderfully understated and totally believable result. Also, the way this show handles romance is so damn good – so many (bad) shows just have characters antagonize each other or avoid talking honestly for endless sets of episodes, interspersed with maybe a few random moments of honesty, and then bam they wuv each other. But here? Yuki and Hikki started out as pretty defensive but already complementary people, and over time they’ve come to understand and obviously respect each other, even valuing the other’s opinions. But there’s still barely any romance there – they’re still just good friends. However, between the last episode and this one, Hikki has begun picking up on Yuki’s emotions much more sharply, and Yuki has begun trusting Hikki with her own personal problems and questions – finally, at the end of this episode, Hikki directly asks what her relationship with Hayama is, something he wouldn’t have cared about in the slightest a few episodes ago. All these small pieces build off each other wonderfully, and everything else is so smart, and the writing is so good, and, and damnit OreGairu I’m doing it again…

OreGairu – Episode 4

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[1] . 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[2] , 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.

Episode 4

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…

18:55 – Oshit, Hiki can see it [RES ignored duplicate image][3]

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

And Done

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

OreGairu – Episode 3

This show is stressing me out.

With Crime Edge, I know it’ll be terrible, and that’s what I’m there for. With Aku no Hana, I’m fairly sure it’ll be great, but I’m not emotionally invested, so it doesn’t really matter to me if it spins off the wheels. With Gargantia, I trust Urobuchi enough to know he’s not gonna fuck up.

With OreGairu?

love this show. I have love love loved those first two episodes. But I have no way of knowing if it’s going to fall apart. And as the hour approaches, I find myself praying, “Please be good. Please, please, please be good. I want you to be good so badly.” Because goddamn do we ever need more shows like this. So one last time, OreGairu, please – continue to be this smart, continue to be written this well, and continue to explore both the vicious truth of young insecurity and the heartwarming passion and humanity that lies beneath it.

Please. Give me this one, at least.

Episode 3

0:43 – I always feel weird praising this show for its incredibly believable inner monologue, because really, the reason I find it so believable is that it almost perfectly represents a Younger Me. Applauding yourself for the combination of variables you’ve combined to excuse yourself from effort while still appearing eager to participate? Yeah. I’ve been there.

1:35 – Once again, mere minutes into the episode, I ask myself, “Why was I worried?” “Walls are a part of youth.” Profound wisdom from Best MC

3:30 – A nice little humanizing moment for Hiki here, enjoying a moment to himself where he doesn’t have to be on the defensive. Of course, all his actions humanize him – his motives and insecurities are transparent in all of his actions (kind of like “wall of Jericho” Asuka in that way – another one of my favorite written characters). But it’s nice to see him get to relax

4:15 – Wow, she’s got her Yuki impression down

4:20 – I like how Yuki’s easily-provoked competitive streak fits in so well with her superiority complex. It’s nice when personality quirks and deeper insecurities mirror each other like that

5:33 – Car accident. Our second clue, to accompany that flashback when Hiki saw the dog last episode

6:07 – “You’re making me blush, EHEHEHE.” I love how when Hiki’s engaged in conversation in a positive way, he reverts to that, “More like hot AND humid, AMIRITE?” artificial positivity

8:46 – Yuki’s anger seems far more deeply felt than Hiki’s. I can’t wait to see more honesty out of her

9:35 – I think it was xRichard in the last thread who mentioned a fear this show would become too “problem of the week” to maintain its initial strength? I think that concern’s valid, but I also think that, even more so than last episode, this episode has been expanding our understanding of the main trio while also containing a side story. I don’t have a problem yet, but this could certainly happen

10:50 – I really like that they didn’t feel the need to reintroduce our Chuuni friend – he just happened to be around, so he hung out with them for a while, and it wasn’t a big thing

12:00 – Hiki’s fighting back! I suppose he feels more confident with a few people already on his side

15:10 – “Worst case scenario: I’ll have to get serious.” Yeah, you don’t have any Chuuni instincts whatsoever, Hiki

15:42 – “I guess self-deprecation creeps people out if you don’t know them well enough.” Yep! That one took me a little while too

16:46 – “Though a certain someone calls me ‘The Ice Queen’… not like I care or anything.” Ah, youth

18:10 – “RAZE THEM TO THE GROUND!” I think I’m gonna like having this guy around

19:22 – “Lunch break will be over soon… usually I’d be in my favorite spot.” That same ocean breeze rustles his hair, and he smiles. See, this episode wasn’t about the side arc at all – it used that to create a concise little narrative arc about Hiki, and further develop the relationships between the main characters.

This is also just a well-crafted trick – the callback makes sense, along with the wind he unreservedly appreciates revealing his ultimately more optimistic nature.

And Done

Welp, it’s still doing it. At this point, the initial shock of a high school romantic comedy that treats smart, negative people as human beings has somewhat worn off, and I’m just enjoying how well these characters are written, how nicely they bounce off each other, and Hiki’s all-star narration. I like the various tones his narration took this episode – there was his default “I know high school sucks, but whatever” shield tone, there was his unshielded mini-ode to his favorite spot, there was the heightened, chuuni-recalling “high school sucks, and I’m a hero for surviving it” when he actually got passionate about the game and let his guard down, and there were his bitter, unguarded remarks towards the perfectly reasonable guy he was using as a stand-in for all the people who never thought to include him. This show knows this guy, and cares about him, but it never romanticizes him. And it’s smart enough to make sure that all comes through.

Maybe next week I won’t be so terrified it’ll all fall apart.

OreGairu – Episode 2

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

And Done

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.

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.