OreGairu takes the typical rose-colored school anime formula and turns it into the social food chain that life is indicative of. If anything, you have to appreciate it for its candor and insight along with all the uncordial situations life can present.
Series Name: Yahari Ore no Seishun Rabu Kome wa Machigatteiru (Translated as – My Romantic Youth Comedy Is Wrong As Expected)
Studio: Brains Base
Genre: Comedy, Romantic, School Life
For the most part, I enjoy most anime within the school-life sub-genre for its mundane and often sunny perspective on the lives of its youthful students basking in the warmth of their adolescents. Whether it be finding love, participating in clubs, talking with friends, or what have you – these seem to be recurring and fond traits of a normal life for the childhood sect coming into adulthood. However, let’s face it: Life is not like that. There will always be outcast, loners, societies deviants, and people who don’t seem to fit in anywhere – something that OreGairu knows and takes full advantage of to show the reality of school life and society at large. If you looking for another fanciful romantic comedy, then you better think twice. It is more like a social spin on the traditional genre and somewhat better than expected at first glance.
OreGairu is much like any romantic-comedy (sort of): an unpopular (antisocial) male lead that scoffs at the prospect of youth, a beautiful and smart female lead, her cheerful foil counterpart – and a common plot point that binds them together – the Service Club. However, what sets OreGairu apart from other titles in its genre is quite simple: its outlook. Instead of the Service Club going around and solving every single request they get from various students in the usual cherry and diplomatic matter you may expect, it is often quite candid, witty, and most of all, something that any student can relate to. It is more about the different social situations teenagers find themselves in and on a mental level, the compulsion that feeds their actions – something that the male lead, Hachiman Hikigaya dissects with a frank and deadpan lens and what gives the title half of its witty dialogue and enticing hook to continue watching. Other than that, OreGairu proceeds much like any anime would, but makes itself far more exceptional to avoid most of the holes many of in the genre seem to make, yet also mock them to some extent while presenting some excellent observational footnotes. It is a near perfect balancing act of a title that is one part wit, another thoughtfulness, and one more that embodies the pure messiness and chaos that comes with a youth’s social life.
Speaking about OreGairu from a purely organizational stand point over its 13 episode run, there is little to nothing to take issue with. It is hardly poorly written or directed, but also by the same token, in the case of early episodes; somewhat awkwardly setup when it comes to its exact aims or better yet, how the three characters have any relevance with one another. That being said, these issues are quickly alleviated and address early on in the series and allows it to begin to play to its strengths. Sadly, some of the strengths do seem to reach a point of tedium and limit, but regardless, OreGairu does what it knows and does it exceptionally well to a certain degree. In addition, to its straightforward and direct nature; the shows comedy components are not undermined by it and actually seems to have a lot of genuine fun as the extra 13th episode seems to do. It never takes itself too seriously, but always does provide a lot of social commentary for thought – while maintaining to get a rise of humor through. Even if is in a sardonic manner.
From the last three years with productions such as Mawaru Penguindrum and Sengoku Collection, I would have to say that OreGairu by far is the most subdued that I have seen in animation style and quality that Brain Base has worked on. This not necessarily a bad thing, since the aesthetic does seem to bring a practical edge to table with juxtaposing the usual saccharine and juvenile anime style with something more akin to normalcy, but also, it just seems work well. It is nothing special or noteworthy; in fact it is quiet plain, but all the same: it works. The musical score is also quite normal; with a few tracks that might be memorable or fade into obscurity rather hastily.
Not expecting very much from it in the Spring 2013 lineup, I must admit that OreGairu had to be the biggest surprised for me and I owe it more due credit than I am giving it here. Of course, it is not absolutely flawless or a shinning testament to other series of its design, but is certainly something that I liked and would love to see more from in the future. Prospects for another season might be minimal at best, yet I hope that other titles in the genre do least learn from this one to not necessarily reinvent the wheel; but at least make the presentation of its ideals more poignant and attractively honest. After all, OreGairu takes the typical rose-colored school anime formula and turns it into the social food chain that life is indicative of. If anything, you have to appreciate it for its candor and insight along with all the uncordial situations life can present.
Pros: Very interesting cast of characters, unique take on the romantic-comedy genre, balance of comedic moments with poignant social content.
Cons: themes driven points do become repetitive and preachy, execution for its content is awkward in some areas.