Look, I’m an absolute fiend for romance in anime. Give me a good, funny love story between two individuals that involve shenanigans and see me never shut up about it because it’s automatically a great premise to me. It’s why I enjoyed anime such as ToraDora or Ouran High School Host Club. There’s just something about a high school rom-com that works, you know? This is why when Oregairu came on my radar, I knew I had to give it a try.
Oregairu, or My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU, is more than just a cute watch! It is the anime adaptation of a light novel series by Wataru Watari, which focuses more on the interpersonal relationships between the characters than any actual romance. This, oddly enough, ends up working in the show’s favor. I didn’t think I’d enjoy something like Oregairu, but I stand corrected. It’s a little different from the other high school shows that were coming out at the time.
I don’t like when a show tries being deeper than it is, like when a premise about a high school love triangle becomes this stand-in for some philosophical poignance. Like, sometimes I just want a fun comedy-based anime that has tropes. But surprisingly, Oregairu happens to be an exception. I’m not saying it takes itself too seriously, but it is more nuanced than many rom coms before it.
With a coming-of-age plotline at its forefront, this anime by Studio Brain Base (Of Baccano! And Durarara!! fame) is an unexpected treat. There is a lot of high school rom-com out there, but this one seems underrated for what it is. With great writing, serious conversations offset by clever comedic timing, and just good characters overall, I feel like Oregairu has a lot to offer. And if that sounds right up your alley, then keep on reading!
The Premise: Disillusioned Teen Gets Bullied Into Joining A ‘Good Samaritan’ Club?
Meet Hachiman Hikigaya: He believed that having a normal teenagehood is a lie and that friendship is a bust. You can already tell he’s really fun at parties.
Hachiman is a high school student who appears aloof to everyone around him, alongside being pretty self-obsessed and even nihilistic at times. To him, all of the follies of being a youth are just that – an illusion, and people are delusional to think otherwise.
So when he submits a scathing essay on how modern social relationships are nothing but a joke, his teacher has had enough. Hachiman is forced into joining the Volunteer Service Club, a group that exists to help those who need support in achieving their dreams. Which is pretty vague but hey, maybe this is exactly what he needs to fix his attitude problem. The group has only one member, Yukino Yukinoshita, and together, the two have to brainstorm and help the students reach out to them.
Will this further cement how humanity is a burden to Hachiman, or will he actually grow to realize that life is more than scoffing on the sidelines?
The Breakdown: Life Isn’t A Fairytale (And That’s Okay!)
I don’t know how, but this no-nonsense take on high school romance and nihilism as a teen is surprisingly good, without being overbearing or preachy about it. Colour me surprised!
The characters play off of each other so nicely, and none of them is unlikable. Not even Hachiman, whose deadpan humor and sarcasm don’t make him your typical ‘lone wolf’ protagonist. Like the show knows he’s being difficult and, therefore, treats him as such. His bad behaviour isn’t rewarded. It knows the characters are flawed and the show is their journey to rising above.
And the show is funny. Like, surprisingly so. The reason why the main character’s humor works so well is that it’s weirdly realistic and relatable. That quality makes it all more hilarious, and yet, you can see the underlying seriousness it carries. Couple that with a razor-sharp wit in writing, and you have a solid anime.
The Verdict: A Surprisingly Deep Rom-Com That’s Worth The Watch!
Oregairu is a hidden gem. I did not expect to like it as much as I did but the comedy here actually serves a purpose beyond just being slapstick humor. Is biting sarcasm and a heartfelt story about growing up your thing?
If so, then I can’t recommend this enough!