AKA, The most socially awkward love triangle EVAH!









RELEASE DATE: 2013-2016




EPISODES: 26 episodes and 2 OVA's




STUDIO (Season one): Brains Base (Baccano, Durarara)




STUDIO (Season two): Feel. (Corpse Princess, Tsuki ga Kirei)




DIRECTOR (Season one): Ai Yoshimura (Cheer Boys)




DIRECTOR (Season one OVA): Yusuke Onoda.




DIRECTOR (Season two): Kei Oikawa (Miniami-ke: Betsubara and Okaeri)






PLOT:

Hachiman Hikigaya is a narcissistic, cynical lonely asshole who spends his days being a narcissistic, cynical, lonely asshole. Maybe it's because of the girls who've rejected him in the past. Maybe it's because of a car accident he got into on the eve of the school's entrance ceremony, robbing his opportunity to socialise with anyone. Whatever the reason, he's such an apathetic dude that he ends up writing a scathing essay claiming that the concept of joyful youth is a lie.



As punishment, his guidance counsellor Shizuka puts Hachiman into the Services Club with the beautiful, but condescending and harsh Yukino Yukinoshita. As it turns out, her club is assigned to give advice to anyone in the student body who needs help. Whilst they spend their days sniping at each other however, another girl in the cheerful Yui arrives to join their club after they help her out with some cooking advice.



As time goes on, people are helped, lessons are learned, and the growing sexual tension between the three only gets more and more awkward.







PROS:

- Perhaps the show's strongest strength is its characters, who all develop as characters as the series continues. Hachiman may initially be a cynical asshole with some insightful (sometimes harsh and funny) monologues, but he does show to have a heart of gold. As the series progressed I started to show sympathy for his lonely nature and how he keeps putting his reputation on the line to help others. Yukino initially appears to be an Ice queen, but her own history of loneliness and her family situation soon start exposing her vulnerabilities. Then there's Yui, who might be as smart as the other two but has a pleasant, cheerful side to her which I really couldn't hate.




- This is perhaps helped that part of the intrigue of their partnership is the events surrounding them, and how things gradually become more and more awkward for them. Even with their attempts to still work as a club, there is always that question of their relationship and how they feel about each other hanging over their heads.



- Whilst perhaps not suited to all sensibilities, I also give respect to this show for delving into the psychology of a Japanese High Schooler. This is usually an important time in life with the development of self-identity, trying to fit into society, making new friends (or maintaining old ones) and finding romance. This is represented by a series of episodes and mini-arcs that always focus on one or several students. It helps that the supporting cast is quite eclectic enough to bounce off the main cast. Whether it's deluded Yoshiteru, the popular guy Hayato, Yaoi girl Ebina, the effeminate Saika, or even Hachiman's cheerful sister Komachi, everyone is either funny, hints of a more complex character, or really get under your skin (Yukino's sister Haruno being the most notable one).




- The humour of the show has a certain wit, with Hachiman's monologues having some of the funnier lines of the series (Issac Boobton's law of boobitation!). However, this is balanced out by the dramatic side of things to a certain degree (especially in season two). I also do have to admire how sometimes the options that Hachiman and the others eventually go with, isn't simply the best answer and sometimes there are consequences to their decisions.



- On the technical side of things, it's especially good in season two. The character designs are a lot more refined, there is actually more dynamic fluent motion going on, and the lighting and visual effects look superior. Now, why did I mention season two? Well...



CONS:

- Here's the problem having two different studios doing separate seasons of a show: the animation quality is going to look different between both of them. Alas, this is the case with season one looking more noticeably cartoonish and sloppy in its designs and overall quality.



- And now my biggest nitpick with the series: for chunks of the series (particularly in season two), I just couldn't really follow what was bugging the characters half the time. This is mostly because it's a very dialogue heavy series, I struggle to retain every single bit of information and even then I sometimes just couldn't follow the subtext. I would get a sense something was bugging me but I just wasn't sure why they were bugged or what it was about an incident that bugged them. I respect they were trying to go for a 'show not tell' thing, but here I felt like I needed some leeway to get what was happening.



- Also, it didn't help that I felt that we were not getting the whole story with the series. I felt like there was some backstory with Hayato that never got revealed, or if it had anything to do with Yukino. It also doesn't help that just as we have Yukino (and the club) going through a particularly sticky wicket, the show suddenly ends with no resolution. To add to the woes, there is still no season three announced as of this review.



- If you want a dub, there isn't one. Otherwise, I hope you like reading subtitles.




IN SHORT:This is a difficult one to rate seeing as I know it's perceived by others as a pretty good series. And perhaps for good reason too: the characters are well developed, and their awkward chemistry adds to the tension as the show also explores the psychology of adolescence. However, inconsistent animation quality aside, I just found this anime a chore to watch, and felt lost trying to figure out what the characters were going through. Otherwise, I'd say it's at least worth a peek if you want a high school comedy with a brain, but it may not be for everybody.




WATCH IT IF: You like insightful high school comedies or psychology.



SCORE: 3 awkward Service Club members out of 5.*



(* Personal opinion)