oregairu - why is it bad?
Prefer to listen on YoTube? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NWLJQfufXw&feature=youtu.be
My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU, also known as My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong, As I Expected, or the Japanese title, Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru, often shortened to simply Oregairu, is a two season TV anime, each with 13 episodes, based upon the light novel written by Watari Wataru of the same title. The first season was directed by Ai Yoshimura, under studio Brain's Base, while the second season was directed by Oikawa Kei under studio Feel. Changes in studio and staff are often met with much skepticism, but for fans of the series, in this case it was undoubtedly for the better, as the second season looks much better visually compared to the first season, which looks very boring and drab in terms of it's visual presentation. The plot follows our main character, Hikigaya Hachiman, a highschooler and social outcast. He's also very reclusive and doesn't like interacting with others. One day, while handing in a form to his teacher, his total lack of resolve and motivation annoys his teacher so much, that she forces him into joining the school's Service Club, which is dedicated to helping other students achieve their goals. The only other member is a girl, Yukino Yukinoshita, and Yui Yuigahama, who joins shortly after.
In terms of popular consensus, this show is very highly regarded, not to mention that it's also super popular, and I can definitely see why. The main character is quite easy to relate to for most viewers, and sometimes he has some genuinely funny quips and pieces of dialogue, not to mention that there are cute girls. Which, hey, I'm not gonna act like I'm above watching something because there are cute girls. Me, personally though? I can't say I share most of those sentiments myself. I found a lot of the dialogue to be very cringeworthy at times, and the way the main characters are framed in relation to the supporting cast feels, frankly, very lame, because aside from a few, the supporting cast is very underdeveloped. Some of the other characters in Hachiman's class are part of a certain clique, and especially in early parts of season one, they feel like such stereotypical idiots that it's impossible to take it seriously. One of my least favourite tropes in high school anime is whenever the main characters, who are underdogs, rise up against what is essentially the ruling class. This trope has been done well once in the entire history of high school anime, with Oniisama e, and never again since. One show that utilizes this trope is The Pet Girl of Sakurasou, and while its use in Oregairu isn't nearly as egregious as the utilization of the trope as Sakurasou, because thankfully, the characters don't literally rise up, it's still cringe inducing to me. Why do I dislike this trope so much? Well, mostly because it's just not realistic, and that in particular is another point I want to expand on.
When I say that I don't like this show because it's unrealistic, I mean that the way the characters act is nonsensical. This is purely anecdotal, maybe it's because I come from a different culture, but as someone who is currently in high school themselves, I have never experienced the sort of class divide portrayed in these series. Are there various cliques? Of course, I'm not denying that, but there's usually a fair bit of overlap in them, and there's never outright hostility. I realize that this is a TV series, there needs to be drama, there has a to be a plot, no doubt about it, but it just feels unrealistic and farcical, and when I'm supposed to take this series seriously, the character writing being unrealistic is a big drawback. More on the character writing, Hachiman's teacher is another issue I have with the series. Her behaviour is nothing short of bizarre. The show has a lot of somber and attempts at emotional moments, and they conflict a lot with the frankly absurd and weird comedy.
Hachiman's teacher beats him up, threatens violence againts him, and it's portrayed as a joke, but it's not portrayed as happening outside the narrative. It feels like the series just takes a break to be weird every now and then, it seems out of place. Now, I do want to make it clear that I do not have anything against quick shifts in tone, Phoenix is my favorite manga of all time, and I love the way it handles the tone, often shifting instantly for a single panel to add in a joke in between a dramatic moment. On the point of humor happening outside the narrative, that's something that's made pretty clear in Phoenix. No, obviously, the Queen of pre-historic Japan did not *actually* start speaking in a german accent while wearing an SS uniform just so she could look extra intimidating while shouting, it's implied to be outside the realm of the narrative. What I'm saying in regards to the context of Oregairu, is that it just feels weird to have an outright abusive teacher played as a joke, when the story is so small in scale.
Then there's the soundtrack, an often underlooked aspect of most shows. A lot of my favourite shows have tracks from the OST that I regularly revisit, because they remind me so much of either a specific scene or just the show in general, such as Oniisama e, Cardcaptor Sakura, or Uchuu Senkan Yamato. Oregairu decides instead to go the opposite route, and has an extremely boring and uninteresting soundtrack which is basically indistinguishable from other contemporary slice of life shows. I still find myself thinking about certain tracks from Lucky Star for example, because even though I haven't revisited the actual show itself since my initial viewing back in 2018, the soundtrack is just so memorable, with most of that being attributed to how unique and different it is compared to most other slice of life shows. For example, just listen to this track from the Lucky Star OST, and then compare it with this from the Oregairu soundtrack. One just blends together with everything else and has no individuality of its own, and the other is super memorable and fun.
To talk a little bit about the production of the series, the first season is below average for a TV anime, while the second season looks a lot better. I wouldn't call it great or anything, but no matter how you slice it, it certainly is a considerable improvement. This can mostly be chalked up to the updated character designs, which are much more detailed in the sequel. The background art is generic and flat in both though, so there is not really any improvement in that department. Another thing worth mentioning, but which I’m unsure of where to include, are the references to other works. JoJo and Glass Mask are referenced, and it just feels very out of place, since being an otaku isn’t exactly a part of Hachiman as a character. He’s just a loner teenager who occasionally plays games on his PSP.
Before I conclude this writeup, I want to touch on more aspect, that being the use of cheap drama for no reason. When I say cheap drama, what I mean is that it doesn't feel like situations that would naturally arise from these characters interacting with each other, it feels as if it comes from out of nowhere, or the characters have to act in incredibly stupid ways for the drama to arise in the first place. This is exactly what happens in season 1, as Hachiman and Yukino go to the shopping mall to find a gift for Yui. By pure coincidence, they encounter Yui, who mistakenly believes them to be a couple. She never says it outright in this scene, she just says things such as "I didn't know you two were like this'' and things like that. Now this is pretty standard for these types of shows, misunderstandings and romance go together in anime as well as bread and butter.
But it still annoys me a ton, because Hachiman's internal dialogue states directly that he knows that she's misunderstanding the situation, and yet he still doesn't just tell her that they're not in a relationship! Instead of clearing up the misconception then and there, Yuki tells her to come to the club room soon, because she has something important to tell her. She's reffering to the birthday gifts. Obviously, Yui thinks she's going to tell her about their relationship. When they finally do meet up, Hachiman and Yuki give Yui their gifts, she says that she thought they were in a relationship, and the misconception is cleared up. This could all have been avoided, if they had just spent two minutes talking to each other.
In conclusion, I do not like this show. No, to say I simply do not like this show would be an understatement. I loathe it. Filled to the brim with trite melodrama, terrible music, annoying writing decisions, cringe-inducing dialogue and barely any redeeming qualities, a main character I can not stand and a cast I do not care about. Not to mention the fact that it’s just incredibly boring. I feel confident in giving the second season of this show my fifth 1/10.