Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru, or OreGairu, started as a series of light novels by Watari Wataru in 2011. It’s gotten multiple manga and an anime adaptation from Brain’s Base in 2013. Is this a romantic comedy that’s worth looking at?
Our narrative follows a young introvert, Hikigaya Hachiman, who gets himself in trouble with his teacher due to getting overly creative with an essay assignment. As punishment, she forces him to join the Volunteer club, an organisation dedicated to helping students with problems. The leader, and only other member, is Yukinoshita Yukino, an introverted girl who believes that the exceptional, such as herself, should aid the hoi polloi. The two are quickly joined by Yuigahama Yui, a more extroverted girl who wants to be friends with both of them and quite possibly has an attraction to both of them. The episodes generally follow a pattern of the club getting asked for assistance and our three leads going to work on it.
The biggest weakness with the series is with the “love triangle” aspect among our three leads. Here’s the thing, Hikigaya has no real chemistry with either of these girls. There’s a young guy in the tennis club he seems to have a thing for, complete with sparkly effects, blushing and other signals that would generally be indicative of him as the love interest, but it’s pretty clear that the series is trying to push the whole love triangle and it just doesn’t do it well. Of course, there is a second series. Maybe he actually does end up with that guy and the lack of real chemistry is deliberate. Pattern recognition says that it’s unlikely, but that would be awesome. Even Yui’s one-sided interest doesn’t really do much. She has more chemistry with Yukino than this guy. There’s also an issue with coincidence. Mainly, the set of sheer coincidences that go into tying these three together makes Steerforth constantly showing up completely by accident seem suddenly plausible.
With that out of the way, there are things I appreciate about this series too. I like that two of the three major characters are introverted. It’s not something that happens often. I also appreciate that the romance takes a back seat to the characters just getting to know each other and learning to get on as friends. I also like that, thus far, it’s pretty atypical for a romantic comedy. It takes risks with the formula and does its own thing instead of giving us the usual tropes. The comedy also does generally work. It actually builds on the situation and uses a variety of set ups and pay-offs as opposed to a series like WataMote where the joke is always that she’s socially awkward.
A lot of these characters actually do get well fleshed out and have verisimilitude to them. A lot of them remind me of people I’ve actually known. The emphasis on that makes it kind of jarring when Hiratsuka sensei does things that would get any real teacher fired. It also makes the few more exaggerated characters, Zaimokuza & Hina being the primary examples, seem a bit out of place. Overall, though, it is quite a compelling group of characters.
The artwork is pretty good. A lot of it is pretty standard for this type of series, but it’s well done and there are some nice details.
The casting is pretty good. Eguchi Takuya, Touyama Nao, and Hayami Saori all do well in the main roles. Even Sasaki Nozomi and Hiyama Nobuyuki are able to make their more exaggerated roles sound decent. The music is quite nicely done and suits the series well.
There’s quite a bit. I already mentioned the way Hikigaya and Saika have ample amounts of chemistry. There’s also the stuff between Yui and Yukino. These two get really affectionate and there’s a point where Yui mentions that she might like Yukino even more than she thought. Although she does clarify that she doesn’t mean in that way. Methinks the lady doth protest over-much. Hina’s character is defined by her being a yaoi fan-girl and she openly drags guys she knows into her fantasies on that front. I bet she’s the type who writes erotic friend fiction.
OreGairu is a pretty enjoyable series. It has some issues but it also gets a lot right. All things considered, I give it an 8/10. Maybe I’ll watch and review the sequel series at a later date and we’ll see if it improves. But next week is the start of a new year. This January I’m going to be looking at series and films that tie in to various things I’ve reviewed in prior Januaries. To start with, tying into Hayashibara Megumi month, let’s look at All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku Dash.