This is a series that surpassed all initial expectations I had of it, which is pretty surprising given its supposed slice-of-life nature that has been very frequently explored, and perhaps at times, overused. The topics approached are so scarily accurate in its presentation, I’m almost compelled to include my personal experiences just to prove the point.
The title is actually no indication of what the series is, considering most of the series falls quite far beyond the typical boundaries of what you’d call a “romance” or “comedy”. It’s almost as if you should read the title renamed: ‘This love comedy is wrong as expected’, because the closest thing you’d ever get to a romantic comedy in the show is this:
Thankfully that too is only played for laughs. So don’t dive into this show expecting a harem love comedy, because you’d come up empty. That’s not to say the show won’t have any of it, as both Yukinoshita Yukino and Yuigahama Yui make for more than passable leads, with the latter’s cheery nature being an entertaining foil to the former’s stern exterior, prompting our male lead Hikigaya Hachiman to employ two very different styles when interacting with them.
Where the show shines is in the way the show’s cynical loner Hikigaya is portrayed, with his witty dialogue and strong perspective capable of putting even Haruhi‘s Kyon to shame. Of particular mention is his exchanges with Yukinoshita, which are blunt yet amusing. (Even his essays that end with him getting lectured are well argued.) You’d be inclined to agree with Hikigaya on many levels even if you haven’t felt alienation on the kind of level he has, perhaps to the extent of having unpleasant memories resurface.
To quote one of the many things he says:
‘”If you change yourself, you change the world around you”. That saying is incorrect. When people judge someone, that impression of that person lasts, forcing a loner to stay a loner. Even if you do your best to stand out, it’ll only become something else to attack you with.’
There are many such similar lines that served as food for thought peppered throughout the series, with Hikigaya deftly tearing apart overused cliches. His strength also lies in being genre-savvy, acknowledging the times his sister tries to pair him with someone as well as how boys normally react in a situation with him often choosing to do the exact opposite.
The romance part of it is a little more complex. While it is quickly established that Yuigahama is attracted to Hikigaya, their exchanges when they are alone actually make up the more serious moments, something you likely couldn’t call comedy. Towards the end of the series, Hikigaya is still struggling to come to terms with him being their friend, much less being romantically linked to either.
This might actually be the first time I could agree with that the way it ended (in ambiguity), given Hikigaya’s distrust of others’, built over years of being a lone wolf, that can’t simply be bridged by singular acts. That’s not to say I don’t want to see a conclusion – if they make even fiction to be so realistic, it’s rather depressing for the individual no? 🙂
There are few shows that feature social psychology outside of documentaries, and to see it used in such a fashion is a rare treat in anime. While you could come out a more negative person after watching the show, it is testament to the strength of the writing that had gone in, and is one I’d wholeheartedly recommend.