Saturday, July 11, 2015

My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU

This romantic comedy revolves around an antisocial high school student named Hikigaya Hachiman with a distorted view on life and no friends or girlfriend. When he sees his classmates talking excitedly about living their adolescent lives, he mutters: "They're a bunch of liars." When he is asked about his future dreams, he responds, "Not working." A teacher gets Hachiman to join the "Volunteer Service" club, which happens to have the school's prettiest girl, Yukinoshita Yukino.

Despite it's super long title, this anime is not what I, or anyone else who's watched it, would ever consider your typical romantic comedy. In fact, I would almost consider this anime to be the complete opposite of a rom-com. While it starts out with that somewhat romantic comedy feel (you've got the anti-social main protagonist, the pretty girl ends up being in contact with, and the other pretty girl who joins up for reasons that are entirely her own), the gears of this anime quickly shift, and you're given the main characters harsh views on the world around him. While there are many moments of hilarity, there are just as many moments that will feel like someone just punched you in the face with a healthy dosage of reality.

In this story, you have three main characters. The first is Hikigaya Hachiman. From the moment he is introduced, you get a clear feeling of his character. He's a pessimistic loner who dislikes everyone and has the most negative world views I have ever seen in an anime character. He tends to think a lot, and so you're often given a healthy dosage of his internal monologues, which can be quite funny at times. After him comes the second main character, Yukinoshita Yukino, the prettiest and most intelligent girl in school. Much like Hikigaya, she's a loner. However, unlike Hikigaya, she's not a longer by choice, but because pretty much every girl in school is jealous of her. She's beautiful, smart, rich. She's basically what every girl strives to be, and they despise her for that. Despite this, she has a much more positive outlook on the world than Hikigaya, and their personalities will often clash, leading to hilarious yet witty banter between them. The last main character of the bunch is Yui Yuigahama. Unlike the other two, she is not a loner, and in fact is quite popular. She's bright and cheerful and is, in many ways, sort of like a stereotypical valley girl. Or, you know, what passes for a valley girl in Japan. While at first, she doesn't seem to have much of a role other than being cheerful and somewhat annoying, you eventually begin to realize that Yui is very much the glue keeping this trio together.

I've spoken a lot about the characters, and that is because I feel it is the characters that make this anime stand out so much. This isn't your stereotypical romcom filled with tropes and bothersome cliches. The dialogue between the characters, the growth they undergo as the anime continues, is probably this anime's strongest point in its favor. The characters in here aren't static, they aren't one dimensional archetypes derived from specific tropes. These characters feel real, and their problems feel real. I love watching this anime because I can actually get into the characters, because I actually care about what happens to them. Even many of the side characters are fully-fleshed out and get some good development.

The artwork is another strong point going in this anime's favor. While I have seen better, I have also seen worse. I would have say that, out of all the anime I have seen, SNAFU's artwork definitely places somewhere in the upper tier. The backgrounds are often bright and colorful, and the details are fully fleshed out. You don't have those half-assed drawings where it looks like someone made a few buildings and then decided to call it quits because they got lazy. The character designs are also very well done. Hikigaya's appearance, from his somewhat beady and bored-looking eyes to even his slumped posture and mostly expressionless face help lend credence to his character. He's a lazy, anti-social loner who would rather people ignore his existence than make friends, and you really feel like that's who he is just from his design.

This story does have one aspect against it. The story is sometimes too intelligent. Are you confused? You should be. While I found the intelligence of this anime to be delightful, many of my friends who watched this anime were lost. Why? Because a lot of the times, you have to read between the lines to understand some of the conversations. Sometimes, it's not what's being said that is the most important part about the characters interactions, but what's NOT being said. Unfortunately, not everyone can realize what's not being said, and so some people may feel a little lost, especially during the more serious conversations. That being said, don't despair too much. So long as you pay attention, figuring out what's being said, what's not being said, and reading between the lines to discover what the true meaning of each interaction, isn't as difficult as it seems. However, you do have to really pay attention. This isn't some mindless show where you sit on the couch and go, "Der! Natsu just farted fire! That's funny!" Overall, I feel like this anime was a breath of fresh air from the typical romantic comedies that litter the genre.

Artwork: 8.5/10
Character Design: 9.5/10
Character Development: 10/10
Storyline: 9.5/10
Musical Composition: 6/10
Animation: 8/10
Total Score: 8.85/10