When Hikigaya Hachimann submits a pretty depressing essay concerning the truth about what ‘youth’ is, his teacher decides that Hachimann needs some kind of character building to take place to restore his image of the human race and life in general. Here, he meets Yukino Yukinoshita and is forced to join the Service Club to help people and, hopefully, change a little to become a more open and sociable person.
My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU (which will from now on be referred to as SNAFU) is, without a doubt the most intriguing, interesting and down-to-earth slice of life anime that I have seen to date, and by far my favourite. Following similar trains of thought, or themes, to those discussed in manga and anime like ‘Homunculus’ (except a whole lot less dark J ), for example, SNAFU observes ordinary social interactions and scrutinises and analyses them to their very core through the pessimistic yet realistic eye of Hikigaya Hachimann. Whether this is the way that a group of casual friends behave around each other constantly ‘validating their friendship’ or simply playground bullying, we see these interactions picked apart meticulously and traced back to said interactions’ roots and reasons why they take place.
Being quite analytical about behaviour in general and what motivates people to behave how they do, I related with this show. It captures so well how social isolation can affect the outlook and behaviour a person has because there were some parts of his personality that I really related with because of my slightly socially awkward personality and because I have always felt slightly disconnected from other people, save for a few closer people in my life. I’m not throwing this ‘sob story’ in there for the sake of it (if you wanna call it that), but because I want to testify to you, the reader, how true-to-life this character is. This is definitely an anime that can appeal to the outcast on a whole new level. This is perhaps mostly owed to the main character of the show, Hikigaya Hachimann.
Hikigaya is a social outcast. Although he says that this quality of him is ‘voluntary’, as I learned more about him, I began to get the feeling that this isn’t the case, and he is in fact just a social outcast. As the show goes on and I got to know Hachimann better, I began to realise more and more about the way he behaved and began to realise the irony that the story was trying to portray as we spent the entire series with Hachimann dissecting other people’s personality and behaviour while deconstructing the guarded and cynical personality of Hachimann himself to show us implicitly why Hachimann behaves the way he does. I won’t spell it out for you because it would kinda spoil it a little and I REALLY want you guys to watch this show. Again, most people out there who suffer from social anxiety and have a grip on how the mind works will come to understand the character of Hachimann pretty quickly.
The supporting cast is done very well. Yukino Yukinoshita is a very serious girl who is kind at heart, but, like, Hachimann, due to some negative experiences in her past is very guarded. Yukino also sees through people’s behaviour somewhat but not as much as Hachimann’s. Unlike Hachimann, who couldn’t really care less, Yukino wants to better society to stop the things that happened to her in her past from happening again. She also has a much more positive outlook on people in general and is much more neutral than Hachimann. The final character in the main ‘trio’ is Yui Yuigahama. Yui is kind hearted and definitely fits the bill as the more ‘normal’ one in the group. She, unlike the others, has a group of friends and although she doesn’t quite fit in, she does her best to conform and partially succeeds in doing so. Despite being pretty simple, with no complex backstory or quirky personality, she is well written in that she is the glue that holds the group together and ‘completes’ the Service Club with her bubbly personality.
The chemistry between these three is done well; the characters themselves, despite some following archetypes, feel well fleshed out. Although the cast involves a set of clearly distinct main and side characters, characterisation is done well for a number of side characters as well, which made them feel familiar.
An admirable thing about the series is the surprisingly neutral stance it takes despite the strong views of the main character. It balances out the pessimism of Hachimann’s mind set with its supporting characters and it isn’t biased in that the series doesn’t necessarily set out to prove him right. I say this because, although Hachimann’s observations are fairly clearly correct in an objective sense, the level of pessimism in his observations are definitely questionable, and there are times when this pessimism causes him to make negative assumptions about others which we, the viewers, can plainly see that he is wrong about. The series uses well-placed comedy to break up the more serious or intense parts of the anime. I know it says that it’s a rom-com in the title, but it isn’t. The title is more of a parody on the fantasy of school life portrayed in the media but also the similar expectations of a rose-coloured youth that are held by other people, as we see Hachimann’s view of youth is entirely different and he himself mocks people who hold such expectations.
The animation is done pretty well in this. It’s smooth, nice and bright and filled with summery hues which, if you have read any of my previous reviews, I really like. I find it visually stimulating and it helps keep my attention on the anime. It also really affects the mood. I feel like an anime with darker or duller tones makes it a lot more depressing and this genuinely affects my mood when I watch it. The soundtrack for the most part is your standard slice of life soundtrack, and has a couple of nice tunes, but nothing particularly memorable.
SNAFU’s plot is arc-based, with each arc being about the Service Club taking requests from others, and the overall plot being more of a character development of the main characters (especially Hachimann) and the strengthening of the friendship between them. This is done well as the already well-founded characters go through a truly satisfying amount of development throughout the series. It isn’t rushed and feels well-paced.
Overall, SNAFU is something of a masterpiece. Since it came from a series of award-winning light novels, it was clear that the writers of the series had a well-fleshed out cast of characters to portray in the anime, and they did this well. There have been so many cases where anime that are light novel adaptations have been done poorly and so not compete when compared to their source material, which I always find to be a pity because it really shouldn’t be that hard when you consider that a book or book series of character, plot and setting development has already been written for the writers of the anime to use.
My rating for My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU is a:
9/10 for characters
9/10 for story
7/10 for art and animation – there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. In fact, it’s pretty good, but nothing particularly impressive is shown.
6.5/10 for soundtrack – again, not bad, but entirely forgettable.
… and a 9/10 for personal enjoyment. Despite the less than perfect art and soundtrack scores, this series does do everything pretty well. I enjoyed the series tonnes and marathoned it pretty damn quickly.
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I don’t own the pictures used in this post. All rights go to their respective owners. Please help support the official release.