Yahallo! This is a bit of a spontaneous post (No, its not April Fools related, despite its timing), It’s going to be somewhat shorter and more informal than what will be usual for this blog. Winter 2015 Final Thoughts is going ahead as expected and will be up by the end of this week. But for now, some words on… Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru, also known as OreGairu.
I just finished rewatching it in preparation for the upcoming second season starting tomorrow.
This isn’t going to be a review, or even just me convincing you on why this show is great (I already think it does that well enough by itself), but simply a sharing of my experience with the rewatch, most of which was conducted last night (9 episodes in a row). I am basically going to be talking from the premise that I think it’s superb, explicit in theme and message, and that you have already seen the show. So be prepared for a lot of gushing, and a little bit of harshness.
Fellow blogger and friend, Guy, mentions in his post about rewatching Neon Genesis Evangelion that at times he finds that he is “watching himself watch a show”, but my personal experience with OreGairu was very different. It felt like I was experiencing a lot of it for the first time and my reactions were very in the moment, directly towards the material I was watching. I hadn’t forgotten what the characters were like or the major events, but the two years I’d spent apart from it had created a very edited perception of it in my mind.
This biggest change was most evident in the humour, I still find OreGairu a very funny show, but the manner in which I was engaging with it this time around was very different, I was nowhere near as observant or critical back then, and much, much more tolerant. Some parts of the show I found amusing this time around that I wouldn’t have back then, and vice versa. A clear example of the former was Hikki and Yukino’s banter in episode 1, just hearing them, listening to those voices (more on seiyuus later) and the perfunct words they spat at each other brought a big fat grin to my face. It was a joyous feeling, I clearly thought to myself: “IT’S STILL GOOD, IT’S STILL DAMN GOOD.”
On the other end, a lot of the tropey comedy moments (such as the slapstick, the Sensei marriage jokes, Totsuka being adorable and the Fujoshi girl shipping everyone) didn’t make me laugh for their base material anymore (they sure would have in the past), but the visual execution of the gags still mostly sold that humour for me. Turns out OreGairu has a great sense of comedic timing and the facial expressions pull a lot of the work too.
A short word on the visuals: I know OreGairu isn’t an animation powerhouse (oh god seriously that concert scene was hilariously poor, look at the drums!) nor are the visuals what you come to the show for, but I don’t think it’s an unimpressive looking show either. The character designs are crisp, pretty and expressive, the backgrounds are detailed and possess beauty when they need to, and the purposeful direction is spot-on — the show is very comprehensible and easy on the eyes. It probably went over my head the first time, but the telling shots and effective uses of camera angles and perspective do tell a lot of the story. I can definitely say that OreGairu’s director certainly ain’t a slacker.
I remember not liking the episode focused on Kawasaki Saki (ep5) that much the first time around, and my opinion did not change this time either, but I was able to isolate the general reasons why that was the case. I won’t completely dissect it here, but in short: Her brother’s too stiff and unnatural, the episode spends almost three quarters of its time dilly dallying around flitting through failed plans to approach Saki – it actually does these back to back in a very rushed and disjointed fashion. This was the episode that had Yukinon nyaa-ing with that cat, and everyone dressing up at a maid cafe apropos of nothing.
I might have just found all this cute and enjoyed the “fanservice” the first time around, but it’s true that this stuff is what diluted the compelling subject matter behind this episode, causing the resolution with Saki herself to feel quite insubstantial. The episode does end with the notorious “I hate nice girls” speech (which was my favourite scene from the show, for a looong time), which does “save” the episode when thinking in terms of immediate retrospect.
The camp trip arc (helping the elementary schoolers) and the Cultural Festival arc (absolute destruction of Sagami) remain masterful. This is known, and the absorbing nature of these segments made it impossible for me to stop watching and put the show down. Instead I will just take this opportunity to talk about the voice acting – boy does the main cast absolutely own their respective roles, Eguchi Takuya, Hayami Saori and Touyama Nao’s performances were natural and effortless, so full of nuanced little tics that I ceased to think of them as being acted, and just perceived the characters as talking. Honorable mention goes to Yuuki Aoi for doing an uncommon-for-her genki role as Komachi, she had me chuckling with her deliveries every time.
The final, and possibly best treat was seeing how cute Hikki and Yukino were acting together in episode 12. I am definitely one of those that thinks the romantic tension between the two is quite palpable, despite this supposed “RomCom” show not actually focusing on romance or a solid arc of a couple getting together as with others of that type.
All in all, OreGairu was an immediate hit for me back when I first saw it, and coming back to it after all this time was an incredibly rewarding experience, affirming its status as one of my favourites. I am greatly looking forward to season two!
Yep, this post was a slightly more of an experimental thing, as with before I will gladly welcome any feedback readers have to give me.
This is the mind-blowing-but-not-really epiphany I had immediately after my first rewatch session of this show:
Sometimes, rewatching shows I already know I like and am going to enjoy beats that uncertain leap of faith into something new. — ShadowZael (@ShadowZael) March 24, 2015
If the above sentiment speaks to you, or you have had your own interesting rewatch experiences, I encourage you to share them in the comments below!