My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU
After turning in one facetious, antisocial essay too many, Hachiman Hikigaya is forced by his teacher to join the Service Club, headed by the dark-tressed, regal, and sarcastic Yukino Yukinoshita. Among the rest of the cast are a boy who looks like a girl; a female yaoi fan, and...
... but you get the idea. SNAFU blatantly rips off Haganai in aspects of its characters and the general premise, but I couldn't really hate it at all, because it actually IMPROVES on its model story-wise.
Let's do some comparison/contrast. Haganai's Kodaka is actually a sociable fellow who gets shunned mainly because of his appearance. SNAFU's Hachiman, on the other hand, while having "evil" eyes (they're drawn narrow, an old convention for sinister in anime), otherwise rather resembles Oreimo's Kyousuke. Hachiman's main problem is that he was rejected by women so many times that he's become a bitter loner. His social isolation has given him both strengths and weaknesses. Since he's just been an observer of the interactions between other people, he's had the opportunity to learn to interpret both nonverbal and verbal communication, and this gives him insight in how to address relationship problems. On the other hand, his bitterness has given him a huge blind spot when it comes to the feelings of others toward himself; he now believes that no girl would actually have feelings for him, so maybe misses (or at least misinterprets) some definite signals directed his way.
The show does have a "class queen" type with requisite fawning male admirers, named Yumiko, but she's not part of the Service Club circle. The slot Sena occupied in Haganai is here filled by someone of much more modest means, one Yui Yuigahama, who originally came to the Service Club seeking help with baking cookies but stayed on as a member. She's a sweet girl, but rather scatterbrained and lacking self-confidence.
One important difference between Haganai and this show is that, while Haganai's Neighbors Club was mainly about reading and playing games (as Yozora admitted), SNAFU's
Other cast members here include Hachiman's younger sister Komachi, though she's just a moefang brat rather than anything like Haganai's goth-loli Kobato. Saika Totsuka fills the Yukimura role here, a male tennis player who's SO pretty that even Hachiman finds himself drawn to him (and hates himself for it.) There's no precise equivalent of Rika here, but we do have a rabid yaoi fan in Ebina, a minor character (and a VERY dispensable one, in my opinion.) We also do have one violent female in Hachiman's teacher Ms. Hiratsuka; contrary to what we see here, I'm pretty sure that teachers are NOT allowed to gut-punch their students.
In the end, we have a show that's superficially an awful lot like Haganai and yet, speaking as someone who was a lonely kid himself, I think SNAFU is often right on the mark about the thoughts and feelings that accompany adolescent social isolation, while Haganai often seemed to just be going through the motions. SNAFU champions the strengths of the outcast, and critiques the perfidy (or general cluelessness) of the popular. While I really couldn't get a handle on- well- what made Yozora's tics tick in Haganai, I got the feeling that, if SNAFU's story continued, we'd eventually understand why Yukino is like she is. (I can only speak from what I've seen in the animes; for all I know the Haganai light novels might explain Yozora a bit better.) Yui is a simple yet sensitive soul, and that gives her a charm that Haganai's Sena sometimes lacks. Yukino's jabs at Hachiman seemed to demonstrate a sharper wit than Yozora's ("What are you doing here at this hour? You should have a nice, long, eternal sleep"), while Hachiman is equally adept at- well, putting HIMSELF down ("Hey, I'm really grown up! I grumble, I tell filthy lies, and I do underhanded things!")
So the question finally boiled down to- is it OK to like the imitation more than the original? And the answer was, for me, 'If it resonates more with me.' So, four stars here. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: Mild fanservice (swimsuits, cosplay) and violence (Ms. Hiratsuka.) Older teens and up.
Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD
Review Status: Full (13/13)
My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU © 2013 Wataru Watari, Shogakukan/Oregairu Production Committee
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